If you’re going to comedian Wayne Brady’s show at Tacoma’s Broadway Center on Thursday, go prepared.
“It’s truly 100 percent off the top of my head. Come with original song titles and an open mind,” Brady said while on a break recording his latest music project.
Already a performance veteran, Brady’s big break came in 1998 when his L.A.-based improv group, The Houseful of Honkeys, caught the attention of a TV producer. “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and lasting stardom followed.
The man with the mile-wide smile just might be the hardest working talent in show business with his comedy tour, music, acting and as the host of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Do you use your smile to get want you want? I would give you anything if you used it on me.
I appreciate that. I think a good smile is a good weapon to have in life. It’s a great way to disarm (jerks.) Going to the starting place of confrontation is the easiest thing to access. Just to smile at someone, I learned at an early age, goes a long way. There are still times I feel like throwing a brick at someone but I’m adult. I know there are consequences.
What will we see on stage on Thursday?
It’s a live one-man improv with a keyboardist. I might have a guest. I take suggestions from the audience and turn them into scenes, characters, improvised songs ...
Do people think your show, or even “Whose Line,” was scripted?
Still. I used to get very offended. But now I understand where it comes from. It’s hard for people to believe that I can walk on stage and be given a state of being, a movie from the ’70s and a household tool, and turn around and do a scene. I can barely change a tire, but I can get on stage and use my mind.
You’re known for improvising while singing. How does that work?
I pick up song titles (made up titles, submitted by audience members) out of a hat. I’ll say ‘This song is from Jimmy from Tacoma’ and I have Jimmy stand up so the audience knows he’s real. I might sing it in the style of Rod Stewart. It’s spontaneous theater.
You started on the British version of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
Yes, but I had been a working actor for quite some time. I had been in cover bands. I worked at Disney World. I was a backup singer for Sheena Easton for 10 minutes. Being on TV was never in my sights. Imagine my shock when the one thing I was doing for fun – improv – caught the attention of a “Whose Line” producer.
How do you juggle the various aspects of your busy career?
You do your passion and mine is exactly what I’m doing. It’s not a good show until you are dripping. The audience is exhausted and you’re exhausted.
Your bit on Dave Chappelle’s show poked fun at your squeaky clean persona and is a comedy classic. How did that come about?
Dave and his writing partner and myself came up with it. It’s great to be associated with something that people love...The media gave me that image. I’m not squeaky clean, I’m just normal. I hate that the average (Hollywood image) is so scuzzy I look good by comparison.
Your recurring character on “How I Met Your Mother” is a little bit unusual, considering who his character’s brother is.
I play Neil’s (Patrick Harris) black gay brother. (Harris is a white, gay actor in real life). That is awesome ... Neil is such a beast and it’s great to be part of that.
Tell me about your music projects.
I’m being courted by record companies right now, which is a great feeling. I’ll have an R&B project in the stores next. And I have a live record that will out on the 25th of February. It’s a live soul record dedicated to strong women. As a guy raised by strong women (his grandmother and aunt), I appreciate a strong woman.
Is it just a coincidence that you and “Whose Line” alum Drew Carey (“The Price Is Right”) are both hosting legacy game shows?
Completely coincidental. It’s hard to draw comparisons. Drew’s gig is easier than mine – and Drews’s a friend so he knows I’m saying this – Drew’s is comfort food. (“Deal” Producers) came to me because they needed a guy who hands out money while entertaining. Compared to Monty Hall’s version, it’s more performance based.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma
Tickets: $38, $58, $82
Information: 253-591-5894, broadway firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8541