How America's Got Talent's Comedian Gina Brillon Uses The Comments From The 'Legendary' Howie Mandel


The sixteenth season of America's Got Talent is fast-approaching the finals, with five of the ten acts who still have a shot at the top prize already decided. Comedian Gina Brillon, who impressed in her audition and then quarterfinals performances with her relatable yet hilarious sets, earned herself a slot in the finals next week. The judges have all had a lot to say to her this season, but Howie Mandel has been particularly enthusiastic, and Brillon shared what the comments from somebody as "legendary" as Mandel have meant to her.

It was hard to predict initially whether or not Gina Brillon would advance to the finals based on the beginning of the results episode, which saw two golden buzzers and one already famous comedian in the three at-risk positions. When Brillon was called forward on the stage, she was up against Beyond Belief Dance Company, who the judges had selected to bring back, and singer Tory Vagasy, who had impressed viewers (if not all the judges) with her Lion King song choice. But Brillon is the one who will move forward, encouraged by the judges who all gave her a standing ovation after her latest performance.

As for Howie Mandel, who is the established comedian in the panel of judges, he not only reiterated that he was proud of her after her semi-finals performance and considers himself a fan of her, but also revealed that she's his wife's favorite and called her a "superstar." When Gina Brillon spoke to CinemaBlend and other outlets following her semi-finals act, I asked what his consistent high esteem has meant to her. Brillon shared:

You know, it means the world to me that Howie's supportive, just from a comic to comic. Like, just having another comedian, someone who is legendary, like Howie is, someone who's had such an incredible career. Like it means the world to me that he supports me. He has seen me working at the clubs, and just knowing that he is so knowledgeable about the world of comedy, and the breakdown of comedy, having somebody like that, as a judge, you're just going to learn and grow and become better. So for me any advice or anything that he gives, even just telling me, you know, how much he believes in me, it really just continues to light that fire of like, I just want to continue to impress not only Howie but myself with how much I'm pushing myself.

Howie Mandel previously commended her for working the clubs in between AGT performances, and Gina Brillon explained that his comments – whether in the form of advice, feedback, or praise – mean a great deal thanks to his background as a comedy legend. And in fact, it turns out that working the clubs is a part of her rehearsal process, which in turn earned her the consistent praise from Mandel. When asked about her rehearsal process, Brillon shed some light on how she prepares for the AGT stage:

Well, some stuff is ad libbed in the moment when it happens on stage. If I react to somebody laughing or if I react to some some kind of audience reaction, I like to acknowledge it. It's just kind of a natural thing for me to go and acknowledge it. When I rehearse and I'm doing the set, I don't always rehearse a very regimented set. I like to do it very natural, very conversational. And then by the time it gets to the show, I have to like tighten it up a little bit. So I tighten it up as much as I can. I will rehearse at shows and I will rehearse in the shower. Shower is one of my favorite places to rehearse [laughs] because I am undisturbed. And I am alone with my thoughts. And it is to me the best place to do any kind of thinking or rehearsing.

Some people sing in the shower, some people think in the shower, and Gina Brillon apparently does some of her best rehearsing in the shower! The combination of working out her act "undisturbed" in the shower as well as hitting the comedy scene to practice her set in front of audiences clearly works, as she currently stands as the comedian who has made it the farthest in America's Got Talent Season 16, having won her spot in the finals. Brillon went on to reveal what her rehearsal in the clubs meant for actual semi-finals performance:

Yes, I did rehearse the set, I ran through the set just to make sure mainly for time and word economy, because I only have two minutes to really tell the story. So I have to make sure that I'm getting all the important parts in. So there's a couple of things that other people may have heard that you didn't really get to hear tonight that are part of those stories. ...But I do my best to tell all the important parts of the story.

While some acts, with Dustin Tavella's multi-part magic act as a notable example, certainly go over the two-minute mark, comics have to stick to that time limit for their sets on America's Got Talent. Even if some things do have to be cut to make time, that clearly hasn't prevented her from winning over audiences on the AGT stage. In her semi-finals set, Brillon delivered the laughs on life as mom to a one-year-old beginning to talk, how she planned her wedding, and the merits of Spanx. Take a look:

Gina Brillon is one of only five AGT performers currently guaranteed a spot in the Season 16 finals, but that number will soon grow to ten. The second and final episode of semi-finals airs on Tuesday, September 7 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, with the results announced on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET. Two more comedians are still in the running to make it to the finals, along with plenty of others, including the final two golden buzzer winners.

Of course, the close calls with elimination experienced by both World Taekwondo Demonstration Team and Jimmie Herrod are proof that even the golden buzzer winners aren't guaranteed to sail right through to the finals, so America's Got Talent is still very much anybody's game in Season 16.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).