Howie Mandel defends 'awkward' joke he made about Sofia Vergara's love life on America's Got Talent
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Comedian Howie Mandel has defended the joke he made about fellow America's Got Talent judge Sofia Vergara's love life after it was branded 'awkward'.
The live shows for the 18th season of the talent show kicked off on Tuesday (22 August), with Mandel joining judges Vergara, Simon Cowell and Heidi Klum to continue their search for the most gifted people in the country.
The episode featured child ventriloquist Brynn Cummings, and during her act the performer invited Klum to help her pick the best eligible bachelor for her puppet, Penelope the skunk.
Ever the comedian, Mandel used the opportunity to make a joke about Vergara's recent split from her husband, Joe Manganiello, as he said: "If I have one word of advice: If you're looking for eligible bachelors, you should've talked to Sofia 'cause she's in the market right now."
Vergara appeared to take the joke in her stride as she laughed and cheered, though host Terry Crews quickly shut down the topic as he commented: "No, we are not doing that here."
Mandel's joke was branded 'awkward' by social media users after the episode aired, though the comedian has since responded to defend his comment and insist it wasn't made 'too soon' after the end of her relationship.
Speaking Extra, he said: "People were online saying, 'Too soon.' I think as soon as you’re available, it’s never too soon. She’s fresh, people."
Mandel went on to claim Vergara herself was a fan of the joke, saying: "People thought that was mean and insensitive. If you watched Sofia, she screamed after she came over to me and thought it was funny.
"She said, 'Yes,' so she’s got a great sense of humor and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt a fellow — a friend first, and a fellow co-worker."
Mandel of course couldn't resist using the opportunity to crack another joke, as he continued: "Now that I have said that, if you are watching Extra, and you can think of somebody, send them our way and we will either swipe left or right."
When asked who he thought might be a good match for Vergara, Mandel responded: "I think everybody watching who is available believes they’re the perfect match for Sofia.
"I don’t think, Sofia, to be honest… she doesn’t need my help. She really doesn't. I believe that she'll be fending them off.
"I mean, she is a great friend, a brilliant person, businessperson, a powerhouse, an amazing sense of humor.
"She checks every box, so whoever ends up with Sofia is going to be really, really lucky."
Mandel expressed hope that the world would find a match for Vergara by the end of this season of AGT, joking: "We’ll find her a match and leave it to America to vote."