Spoilers ahead for the August 21 episode of America's Got Talent.
America's Got Talent has become a staple of the summer TV lineup, and judge Howie Mandel hit a milestone in Season 14. He's officially been part of the AGT family for ten years, and the August 21 episode pulled out all the stops to celebrate him. While the episode included everything from a cake of Howie's face to a throwback to many of the puns he's dropped over the years, the celebration of all things Howie started out with a little surprise from Simon Cowell, and Simon himself was all over it.
Terry Crews, who is basically the best part of AGT this season, revealed that Simon had a surprise in store for Howie in celebration of the milestone, and Simon explained that he wanted to pay Howie a tribute to show his "significance" and "importance" for the ten years he's been on the show. Simon had something to show his longtime fellow judge.
Now, if this was your first episode of America's Got Talent and first experience with the dynamic between Simon and Howie, you might have expected to see something 100% heartfelt and genuine. If you've been an AGT viewer for more than a handful of episodes, however, you probably were amused but not surprised by what followed. Take a look at what Simon had put up on Sunset Blvd.!
I wasn't kidding when I said Simon was all over the celebration of Howie! His tribute to Howie that celebrated his significance and importance to AGT was a gigantic billboard showing all of Simon's smiling face and just a little tiny sliver of Howie's face, with an arrow pointing out Howie because it would have been easy to miss him.
Luckily, Howie wasn't offended that this was how Simon -- who pretty undeniably is the star of America's Got Talent -- chose to honor him. In fact, Howie was laughing so hard that he nearly fell off his seat and grinned broadly at Simon. He did ask "Is that real?!" right before he got up to share a very big hug with Simon.
For his part, Simon was grinning ear-to-ear the whole time, and it was clear that his compliments were sincere even despite the joke. This isn't the most conventional bromance on television, but it's pretty fun! I'm glad that neither Simon nor Howie joined their two former fellow judges and Tyra Banks when they departed ahead of Season 14.
Later on in the hour, after Howie had the chance to recover a little bit from the joke, Terry Crews asked Howie how he feels about the billboard, and Howie said this:
You know what, to be honest with you, it’s funny and I can’t thank you enough. But the real tribute, the real celebration is just being — and they show you — a very small part of the best show on television. It’s all about the talent, it’s all about you Terry, the people I sit with, this production team. This is the best job, the best show in the world, and the celebration is here.
Howie was pretty jovial throughout the whole episode, even though this was a results show. The judges had to say goodbye to five of the acts that were so talented that they made it to the live shows, and there were some real nail-biters. The acts that were eliminated were Golden Buzzer winner (and Dirty Dancing-esque lift recipient) Joseph Allen, The Sentimentalists, Nick & Lindsay, Charlotte Summers, and Marina Mazepa.
Find out what happens next on America's Got Talent when new episodes air Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.