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Jonathan Mangum: Love of the Laugh

He sees laughter as a beautiful experience that makes us better people.

Jonathan Mangum lives in the moment. For him, inspiration is everywhere, and life wouldn’t be fun without the spontaneity of it all. That’s how it was when he lost a bet and switched pants with Wayne Brady on live TV, or when he rapped about benign topics with his hilarious co-stars, or when he crossed the stage in a snazzy power suit and stiletto heels to relate to an audience member’s pain. Mangum is an actor, comedian, and co-host of Let’s Make A Deal, the popular multi-generational television game show on CBS. His ability to think on his feet and bring comedy to any situation has allowed Mangum to be featured in over 100 TV commercials, movies, and shows, like Whose Line is it Anyway?, Reno 911!, Married…With Children, and NCIS.

Jonathan Mangum with Jack Nicholson in scene from The Bucket List.

Let’s Make A Deal

Mangum is most known for being the announcer on Let’s Make A Deal with Wayne Brady. The TV game show began in 1963 in the United States with hosts’ Monty Hall and Stefan Hatos. Mangum and Brady revived the show in 2009 after its first 30-year run. The studio audience is asked to make deals with the hosts to win valuable prizes. “The crazy attire, the anything-goes atmosphere, the energy of the audience really make this game show one-of-a-kind,” Mangum says. Let’s Make A Deal is a Daytime Emmy-award nominated show with an average of three million viewers. “It’s an honor to be welcomed into the homes of so many Americans,” he says. “Each episode is always fun, and each studio audience brings its own charm and spirit. I love working with the team to entertain those in the studio and those in their homes.”

A Life of Comedy

Mangum grew up in Mobile, Alabama. After high school, he attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. His comedy career started in Orlando at the SAK Comedy Lab with his current Let’s Make A Deal co-host Wayne Brady. At that time, Mangum and Brady were college students performing about 13 shows a week.

“It was non-stop, we were performing, dating, taking tests, trying to pass class, forgetting to eat and do laundry,” he says. “It was tough, but I remember the joy of laughing all the way through.” In 1995, Mangum moved to Los Angelesand continued his comedy career as one of the co-founders of the sketch improv group, Houseful of Honkeys, with Brady.

Fast forward twenty years and the two continue to work together on several different shows, including The Wayne Brady Show, Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza, Let’s Make A Deal, and the British comedy series Fast and Loose.

Mangum has collaborated with many notable comedians like Drew Carey on The Drew Carey Show, which aired 220 episodes and comedian Eddie Murphy in the movie Imagine That. He also starred in the CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway, which began in the summer of 2013. “I do it all for the love of the laugh,” Mangum says. “Laughter unites and frees people at the same time. It’s a beautiful experience that makes us better people.”

Mangum encourages people to witness or partake in an improv comedy group and says, “It’s a great training tool; you learn so much about yourself in the moment.” Get a little comic relief and watch some of Mangum’s best moments in this video…

Screen Life

When Mangum isn’t living in the moment, he likes to write memorable scenes. As a screenwriter, he has worked for The N and The Walt Disney Company. He has written for Ben Rock, a film director, in short movies like The Meeting,and Conversations. He’s also written and produced comedic shorts like Open Carrie, Robots are Hard, and White Racist Zombies. In the short film, the people of Los Angeles discover that a virus spreads and turns only white people into zombies. The zombies are only hungry for the melanin in black skin, leading the black community to take the necessary steps to save itself.

All of Mangum’s work shows the importance of comedy in his life and his unique take on social issues and challenges. “I believe if we can all laugh at ourselves, we’d be better off.”

Spontaneous Reaction

Mangum loves the energy of change. “I prefer to give people fresh comedy — no rehearsed lines, just comedy in the moment.” His short-form comedic improv style is spontaneous, to say the least. But not every joke receives the desired result. “Sometimes, jokes don’t go according to plan, but you can’t dwell on it. You have to take the moment as it goes, adjust, and make it organic for the audience to be engaged. Be good. Be quick.”

Another reason for his success is his ability to work in a team effort. “It’s all about the team. You’ve got to understand your teammate’s strengths as well as your own,” he says. “Without understanding where you fit it, you can’t be where you truly belong.”

Mangum is married to Leah Stanko Mangum, a casting director, actress, and writer. They have two sons, Chase and Austin, and live in Los Angeles. You can learn more about Jonathan Mangum at jonathanmangum.com and be sure to visit Mangum Productions on Vimeo to watch his video clips.