Howie Mandel's prank on 'AGT' fans backfires, nearly leads to blows: 'Extremely rude'

By now, pranks are a tradition on America’s Got Talent. For instance, there was that time when Simon Cowell pretended to be maimed by a danger act’s bow and arrow, nearly giving poor Sofia Vergara a heart attack in the process; Sofia later got her revenge on Simon by commissioning an embarrassingly hideous clay bust of his face. Then there was that time when professional wrestlers Nikki and Brie Bella auditioned for the show in creepy clown costumes. So, on Wednesday’s results show, Simon and his fellow judge Howie Mandel decided to carry on this tradition — and this time, the victims were some unsuspecting AGT fans.

After all, with this season’s boring new elimination format — which features no Instant Save or any input from the judging panel — the cast had to find another ways to kill time before the week’s contestants were whittled down from 11 to the top two, right?

Anyway, as AGT viewers waited to find out the two acts moving on to the Season 17 finale, Howie and Simon decided to go check out the AGT Las Vegas Live venue at the Luxor and get into a bit of mischief. And while two months ago, it was the above-mentioned Bella Twins who got into a fake fight onstage, this week it was Howie who almost engaged in fisticuffs.

First, Howie donned a tow-headed shag wig that could’ve had Simon mistaking him for an early-season version of his old American Idol co-star, Ryan Seacrest. (Simon actually called Howie’s look “terrifying.”) The disguised Howie then ventured out into the crowd at the Luxor resort venue’s VIP Experience — with Simon feeding “extremely rude” one-liners, Cyrano de Bergerac-style, to him through a hidden earpiece. Howie took Simon’s direction well and basically behaved like a gatekeeping Studio 54 doorman, telling guests they were “below the level of performance” and not “important” enough to be included in this season’s AGT promos… and things understandably got tense.

Ultimately, the guests were amused and surprised to find out that it was Simon and Howie messing with them entire time. And the surprised — but less than amused — reactions didn't stop there. Later in the episode, viewers were shocked when ventriloquist Celia Muñoz, who made a big impression Tuesday night with her tribute to Olivia Newton-John and was declared one of the night’s best acts by Simon, was eliminated.

However, as I’d predicted, French magician Nicolas Ribs and Simon’s Golden Buzzer pick, teen singer Sara James, made it through instead. They’re now headed to the finale, where they’ll compete for a slot performing in the “AGT Las Vegas Live” revue; hopefully Simon and Howie will be on their best behavior then.

And AGT fans on Twitter are already hoping that Celia will nab the finale’s 11th wildcard spot, which will be announced in this season’s final qualifying round week. In the meantime, 11 more AGT hopefuls will compete next Tuesday, as the qualifiers continue.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

· 88-year-old exotic dancer promises 'more clothes' will come off if she advances on 'AGT'

· Welcome to the dollhouse: Creepy celebrity sisters pull off the ultimate 'AGT' prank

· Say cheese! 'America's Got Talent' singer makes history with surprising, unprecedented judging decision

· Simon Cowell's deadly 'America's Got Talent' stunt shocks audience: 'We need a medic!'

· Nick Cannon on quitting 'America’s Got Talent': 'One of the best decisions I ever made in my career'

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