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Here’s the Deal: You’re Famous

Here's the Deal Don't Touch Me by Howie Mandel

I couldn’t wait to read Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me, Howie Mandel‘s recently published memoir. Finally, it arrived in the local library, where I’d put it on hold. The first thing I noticed was the cover: it looks like Howie’s standing inside a giant white currant. Gardeners like me will like this.

The next thing I noticed was the smell. Unfortunately, I’m so near-sighted, I have to hold the book up to my nose to read, and the smell was, well, repulsive. I thought about the cigarette addict who’d gotten to the book before me. We all have our stimulants of choice, don’t we? I smiled knowingly as I imagined the poor sod struggling with OCD, ADHD, or both. My brother-in-arms. I forgave him the smell.

Howie, thank you for writing this book. It’s not a great book, from a literary perspective. But it is entertaining. And important. I’m hoping Howie’s book will help put ADHD and OCD in perspective, removing some of the stigma and shame some of us feel, or, rather, that is thrust upon us by ill-informed people. Howie’s brave entrée into the literary world proves that, yes, you can suffer terribly from mental health issues and still have a successful career, great marriage, loving kids, friends and family.

My question is:  How, Howie, How?

Howie states that he has severe ADHD, which surprised me. I have severe ADHD. I’ve been wondering what distinguishes the success stories, like Howie, from the legions of adult ADHDers who continue to struggle in our daily lives. We’re the underachievers, who feel as though, try as we might, we just can’t get it together. (I once tried to start a support group, “Underachievers Anonymous,” but I just couldn’t pull it off.)

Anyway, I read Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me with these questions in mind. Here’s what I found.

While Mandel shows classic signs of ADHD — highly distractible, impulsive, lacking self-awareness, has a co-morbid condition (up to approx. 85% of us have at least one, the most prevalent ones being depression, OCD, anxiety disorders, bi-polar, learning disabilities, etc.) — he also has several other factors (besides his sense of humor) that seem to tip the scale in terms of an outwardly successful life.

In a classic example of lacking self-awareness (and having a supportive, insightful spouse), Howie describes how his career had taken a downturn. He contemplated whether or not to host the game show Deal or No Deal, and didn’t want to, worrying it would screw up his career in comedy. His wife Terry called it when she said, “What career?” Closely followed by, “Take the deal, you idiot.” Closely followed by Mandel being catapulted into the most wildly successful career choice he’s made to date.

Howie’s impulsivity shows as he describes countless incidents of practical jokes played on friends, colleagues, and even his wife. Following his prankster impulses loses him some friends, but serves him well in stand-up comedy.

In one of his most reflective moments, Mandel describes the euphoria of stand-up comedy in a way that a lot of us ADHDers can relate to, especially those of us who are performers. He likens the experience to the message in Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

“If I could just focus on the now,” writes Mandel, “I might realize I’m ok. The only place that I’ve found the ability to do this is onstage. Every other issue seems to disappear as I live in the moment of performance.”

Mandel, who sometimes improvises during a performance, explains the focus we ADHDers can achieve when our adrenaline is running high. In relating a night when he becomes distracted by an audience member, he breaks from his routine and chokes onstage. After several nerve-wracking minutes, he saves the day with a stunningly brilliant (and funny) remark. It’s one of the best anecdotes in the book and illustrates the exquisitely focused ADHD brain under pressure.

From all the reading and interviews of people with ADHD I’ve done, not to mention my own life, it’s beginning to appear to me that the make-or-break factors for success for adults with ADHD are:

  • unconditional love from our parents
  • finding out about the condition early in life
  • giving up trying to fit in
  • following your gut instincts rather than conventional paths
  • in adulthood, a loving partner / spouse who “gets you”
  • a passion for something

With the exception of finding out about ADHD early, which isn’t mentioned but seems implied in Mandel’s book, Mandel appears to have the rest of these make-or-break factors.

So Here’s the Deal: for those of us who didn’t or don’t have any of these, how do we get ’em?

I can sure relate to the downside he describes, but how do we go back and get supportive parents? An early diagnosis? Permission to be ourselves rather than try to fit in? Belief in our instincts?

Obviously, we have to start from the now.

The things I share with Howie are: an innate sense of humor, a passion for performance, and a growing trust in my own path.

So, Howie, I may be a late bloomer, but I’m getting there. I realize that all I have is the Now. Thanks for the signpost along the way.

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Here’s the Deal: You’re Famous

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). Here’s the Deal: You’re Famous. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 May 2013
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