As NBC was busy airing its numerous weeks of America’s Got Talent audition rounds, star judge Sofia Vergara and now former hubby Joe Manganiello revealed that they’re heading for divorce after seven years of marriage. She’s reportedly doing okay with everything in the aftermath, and trying to keep a positive attitude. And she certainly seemed to exude such vibes whenever Howie Mandel rather quickly joked about her being “single” in the competition series’ return to live eps for the Qualifiers, though it didn’t stop some fans from calling him out for going there already. Ever the comedian, Mandel responded by amusingly doubling down on his initial comments.
During the episode, Howie Mandel quipped to 12-year-old ventriloquist Brynn Cummings, whose act involved a female puppet looking for a boyfriend, that his co-judge Sofia Vergara would have advice about eligible bachelors, since she’s “in the market right now.” The moment could have easily landed with a dull thud, and AGT’s Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell weren’t about to engage in that subject matter, but Vergara herself was clearly amused by the off-handed divorce reference. Which is probably why Mandel felt free to lean into his joke even more when talking to Extra about viewers who weren’t so approving. In his words:
People were online saying, ‘Too soon.’ I think as soon as you’re available, it’s never too soon. She’s fresh, people. . . . People thought that was mean and insensitive. If you watched Sofía, 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.
Would it be amusing and slightly disturbing if Vergara went all in on agreeing with Mandel’s thoughts, and tried getting some girl time alone with the puppet in order to share dating advice? Absolutely on both counts. But we (probably) don’t need to worry about things reaching that level, unless wayyy too much alcohol is involved.
Howie Mandel joked that anyone watching the interview should send their romantic suggestions into the show, but when asked who he thought she’d be a great match for, the Gremlins vet became more sincere in saying Vergara didn’t need his input when it comes to finding new love. He continued:
I think everybody watching who is available believes they’re the perfect match for Sofía. I don’t think, Sofía, 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 Sofía is going to be really, really lucky.
Naturally, that sincere approach was dropped immediately, as Mandel joked that Vergara should find a match before the end of the current America's Got Talent season, so that they could have audiences vote on what the outcome would be. Considering how many people attain celebrity status by looking for love on reality TV shows, it only makes sense for there to be more shows that feature already established celebrities gamifying their own lovelives. Not that this should be an instance where that's put into practice, or that it should ever be put into practice. But expect Howie Mandel to sign on to EP that project if it comes into existence.
The Qualifier Rounds continue each week, as America’s Got Talent airs new episodes on NBC each Tuesday and Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. ET. Those same eps are available to stream the next day with a Peacock subscription.