It’s not often that NBC’s reality competition series America’s Got Talent finds itself under hot water, but that’s exactly what happened during this week’s broadcast. Generally genial judge Howie Mandel was critiquing contestant Stevie Starr, who has appeared on the show as The Professional Regurgitator, when he made a comment that wasn’t taken particularly well. Here’s what the judge had to say to the regurgitator.
This would probably come out wrong, but you, sir, make bulimia entertaining.
While he meant it as a positive critique of Starr’s work on the show, it instead came off as an offensive critique to many people who have lived with or known someone who has dealt with bulimia. I’m not sure if Mandel realized his mistake as soon as he word vomited it out of his mouth or if the network made its displeasure known as soon as the show went to commercials, but later on in the show Mandel made a point to apologize for his joke.
I just want to take a second to apologize. I made a comment earlier, it’s live television; I wasn’t thinking. I made light of bulimia, which is a very serious eating disorder and mental health issue. I deal with mental health all the time, and I did something stupid. I should never make light of it. I apologize to anybody that was offended. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes.
The mental health issue he is referring to is an obsessive compulsive disorder, an issue the TV personality has been open about struggling about for years. And just to make it clear that he was not particularly proud of the bulimia comment, the host later also went to social media to state that he was sorry for a second time. So, even if you live under a rock, you should know at this point that Mandel is really and truly sorry. There will be no further health comments from him on the live television show in the future.
America’s Got Talent is currently airing its tenth season on NBC. Judges include Howard Stern, who is in his final season, along with Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum. You can catch new episodes—and occasionally inflammatory comments—on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, here’s what’s coming up this fall.