Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Mangum over Facebook. As you may or may not know, Jonathan is the current announcer on Let’s Make a Deal with Wayne Brady. Here’s his headshot….
That should give you some idea of what he looks like. Anyway, he was awfully nice to speak to me. I tried it with Rich Fields a few years ago, and he said I had to go through CBS clearance. Then again, this was back when he was employed!
GP: First off, congratulations on making it to the 2nd season of Deal.
GP: Just to be upfront with you, I do have a bias toward the Hall version because that’s the one I’m more familiar with. The changes made to the show are very radical, but it’s really just the same game, and I like what I see. So if it seems like I’m attacking you or the show, that’s why. I just wanted to be upfront, because this is what some people are asking.
JM: Understood, no problem.
GP: Now, according to your Wikipedia page, you were part of the cast of The Wayne Brady Show. Did this help you get your job as announcer in any way?
JM: I have known Wayne since 1991 when we started performing improv together at SAK Theatre in Orlando FL. The group of us moved out to LA in 1995 performing as “The Houseful of Honkeys”– we had great reviews and performed our improv show for nearly five years. During this period, Wayne got “Whose Line” and his career took off. By 2000, he was touring the country. I was(am still) his comedy partner- So, when CBS booked him for the host, they asked if their was anyone he had chemistry with that could be an announcer and more–
GP: I also understand that TV’s Original Big Dealer, Monty Hall, is working on the show as a Creative Consultant. I’m thinking (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you had to get some kind of OK from Hall in order to get the job, because the announcer does play an incredibly important role on the show. What’s that like, working with someone of that magnitude?
JM: Yes, Monty is a consultant and I see him on the set often. I’m not sure what the approval process was, though. I’m sure there was some kind of meeting, and I guess I made it through 🙂 Monty is very nice and gracious. He’s an awesome guy full of great stories and his wife is just as awesome too!
GP: So, what’s it like on the show?
JM: The show is super-fun and genuinely exciting. A new car or $15,000 in cash can REALLY change someones life- it’s not fake drama– it’s real, and it’s happening to real people.
GP: Is it really just as crazy as it appears to be on TV?
JM: It is even more crazy live. The sound of standing in the middle of that crowd is nearly deafening. When Wayne walks out at the top of the show, he literally cannot hear himself talking!
GP: There’s this documentary about the show out on DVD. It’s called “Deal” and I find it fascinating because it goes through the development of a single episode of LMAD (the episode footage was shot in 1975 but the actual film was released in 1978). Have you seen it?
JM: I didn’t know there was one– very interested to see it now.
GP: Have you seen any classic episodes of Deal to give you some idea of what you’re doing on the show?
JM: Yes, I do remember the show as a kid, but I did watch several episodes before my first day of work.
GP: If yeah, how much impact does Jay Stewart’s stylings have on your style?
JM: Jay had a beautiful voice. His gift was that magical sound- he could make anything sound like it was the best thing ever. I don’t have that. What I do have is a fun sense of humor and chemistry with Wayne that no one else has. It is a different beast.
GP: If no, do you just rely on your improv skills? How does that work for you?
JM: es– I do think I’ve gotten better at the ‘copy’ reading, but they hired me for the improv and fun-ness, and that is my priority.
GP: I asked this question to Randy West (one of the more professional announcers in the field). There’s an increasing trend of people you wouldn’t expect as announcers becoming announcers; Joey Fatone (Family Feud) and you for example. Why do you think this trend’s occuring?
JM: Evolution is everywhere, in everything- every aspect of business, entertainment, and everything else. People try new things, some fail, others work– then the whole process repeats over again.
GP: You’ve probably heard about the trio of guest announcers on Price (JD Roberto, Jeff Davis, and Brad Sherwood). Do you realize you are taking over for more experienced, polished announcers such as Burton Richardson or Randy West?
JM: I do realize we are taking over for some great talents. The people you mentioned have spectacular voices- and no one can ever take that away from them. I have performed with Jeff Davis and Brad Sherwood, and I can tell you they are some of the funniest humans alive. If the producers want ‘funny’ as the priority, then I get it 100%– I have to say, I’ve been on the opposite side of entertainment “evolutions”- When the reality TV thing hit– it drastically reduced the number of parts for actors. It was hard on all of us actors watching these ‘non-actors’ taking our jobs– But things have a way of self balancing and now I’m on the “right” side of evolution. (for now :))
GP: Now, here’s something a lot of people have been complaining about, Jon. It’s the fact that only one person plays the Big Deal. Throughout the entire Hall era, 2 traders played the Big Deal, and it created an incredible amount of suspense, excitement, and joy. With just one person, you still have the suspense, but a lot of disappointment as well because most traders don’t get the Big Deal. First off, whose idea was it to have only one person play the Big Deal?
JM: As far as how the show works now, I have no idea how or why they’ve come up with what they have– I’m sure they have good reasons.
GP: I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Mike Richards [the executive producer]. This is probably another reason many Loyal Friends and True don’t like him. What led him to make this change?
JM: There is no reason to not like Mike R. Maybe you don’t like his choices, but the guy is one of the smartest most on the money producer I’ve ever met. He his producing 2 game shows, 7 days a week, and is never frazzled. He is pro.
GP: You know, I find it incredibly strange that Price tends to have more commercials geared towards senior citizens (what with Hoverround, the Scooter Store, Liberty Mutual) and Deal doesn’t. Both shows are incredibly popular with people much younger than 65, but Price has that older feel. Why do you think Price has that AARP stigma about it and Deal doesn’t?
JM: Not sure. Although I can tell you that the ad people know who watches which show down to age, demographic, sex, income, and everything else– it is a precise science- they know exactly what they are doing- which leads me to think that more old people watch Price…but for certain, I can’t say.
GP: Finally, Jon, what advice do you have for someone who wants to do something similar to your job?
JM: If you mean similar to announcing, I have no idea- If you mean comedy or acting, I would say get one stage as much as you can. Do as many shows as you can do. When you start, you will not be so good– but like anything, practice means perfect. A good quote I learned (can’t remember who said it) “Whoever wants it most, wins.”
GP: Thank you very much for your time, Jon. Good luck with the 2nd season and keep up the good work.
JM: Thanks you, sir!
If you’d like to see more of him, just watch Let’s Make a Deal with Wayne Brady weekdays on CBS. Thanks a lot, Jon.
Does anyone have any comments?