Sofia Vergara laughs off Howie Mandel’s ‘in the market’ joke amid divorce from Joe Manganiello — too soon?

Howie Mandel, left, stands while Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, Simon Cowell sit at judges' table in front of an audience
Sofia Vergara, who serves as a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” split from Joe Manganiello in July after nearly eight years of marriage.
(Trae Patton / NBC)
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With the ink still drying on Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello’s divorce papers, Howie Mandel couldn’t stop himself from cracking an on-air joke about Vergara’s new relationship status.

And even after online backlash that the gag was too soon, Mandel is defending the moment and claiming Vergara was in on the joke.

On Tuesday’s episode of “America’s Got Talent,” in which Mandel judges alongside Vergara, the panelists were watching an act from ventriloquist Brynn Cummings. During the performance, the 12-year-old asks Heidi Klum, also a judge on the show, to help her pick an “eligible bachelor” for the ventriloquist’s puppet.


‘True Blood’ and ‘Magic Mike XXL’ actor Joe Manganiello filed for divorce Wednesday from ‘Modern Family’ star Sofia Vergara, ending their seven-year marriage.

July 20, 2023

After the act, Mandel lauded the act as “amazing” before ribbing Vergara. “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,” he said.

As the live audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium reacted with a mix of cheers and groans, Vergara looked down while smiling shyly, before beaming, stretching out her arms and yelling, “Yeah!” She turned toward Klum and laughed.

However, the show’s host, Terry Crews cut into the moment, calling out from the stage, “No, we are not doing that here.”

While “people were killing” Mandel online over the joke, criticizing it for being “too soon” and “tasteless,” the comedian doubled down on his humorous take, telling “Entertainment Tonight” that he was “helping Sofia.”

“It’s not too soon,” Mandel continued. “It’s too soon when she’s still married. Last season was too soon. Even if she saw it coming. I don’t think she did. I’m just saying, that was too soon. As soon as she’s free, as soon as they live in separate homes, the door is open, people!”

Mandel then assured that Vergara had come over “and she thought it was funny” and had “approved of the joke.”


“I’m her Bumble,” he added.

The rumors are true: Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello are getting a divorce. The two actors issued a joint announcement Monday.

July 17, 2023

After the episode aired, Vergara shared behind-the-scenes shots from the episode on Instagram, including a selfie with Mandel, captioning the post, “Luv u @howiemandel” with star emojis.

After nearly eight years of marriage, Vergara and Manganiello announced their divorce in late July. “As two people that love and care for one another very much,” they said in a joint statement to Page Six,” we politely ask for respect for our privacy at this time as we navigate this new phase of our lives.”

The pair of actors did not have children together, which TMZ and People cited as a potential reason for the split: Manganiello wanted to have them and Vergara did not. She already has an adult son, Manolo Gonzalez Vergara, whom she gave birth to when she was 18. She was also embroiled in a protracted custody battle over two embryos with her ex, Nick Loeb, that she won in 2021.

Divorce papers filed by Manganiello on July 19 showed the pair had been separated since July 2. Court records show Vergara responded on July 31 and filed her own petition to dissolve their marriage. Both cited “irreconcilable differences” and stated in court documents that they have a prenuptial agreement and will decide who gets what, and how much.

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.