An Improv Life
Wayne Brady brings his genius for improvisational comedy to the Blaisdell Concert Hall stage Saturday.
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While other kids were outside playing, a young Wayne Brady was indoors reading anything he could get his hands on — from encyclopedias to comic books to the TV guide.
He was, he says, a “sponge of popular culture and literary works” — a “self-professed geek.”
Little did Brady know how much that knowledge would become a resource in his career as an actor, singer and improvisational artist.
“I was a natural candidate for improv,” says Brady, who is perhaps best known for his role on ABC’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? where his castmates included Drew Carey and Ryan Stiles. “Whether it’s in a character, a song, a story, a joke or a literary allusion, I can bring up that amassed knowledge any time I need it.”
If you’ve ever seen Brady in action, you know that his quick wit and dead-on humor can make you laugh until you cry.
Audiences can get a full dose of Brady’s winning style when he returns to Hawaii this weekend for one show only at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Brady and friends are planning an exceptional night with lots of audience participation, good, clean family fun and the occasional adult double entendre that will “go right over the kids’ heads but make the adults laugh.”
“Folks can expect a high-energy improvisational rock concert,” says Brady, who is originally from Florida, but currently resides in Los Angeles with his Hawaii-born wife, Mandie (Taketa) Brady. “People can expect a improv concert, where instead of singing songs people know, the audience will give me the titles and my band and I will create the songs right on the spot.”
Also expect some of Brady’s famous impersonations, including his favorites: Tina Turner, Sammy Davis Jr., Ozzy Osborne, Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson. He also plans on doing a lot of the old games (and some new ones) familiar to Whose Line Is It Anyway? fans.
“You name it and we do it. It’s us walking this incredible tightrope,” says Brady. “So come ready with your suggestions, props, fruits, animals … whatever you want. Just come.”
Brady is excited about this Hawaii engagement because he says the crowds in Hawaii are the most supportive he’s encountered. “I think the racial diversity on the island is incredible. Everyone is really able to make fun of themselves,” says Brady. “The level of love and tolerance in Hawaii is greater than anywhere I’ve been in the United States.”
This makes it easier for Brady’s comedic antics, and he says the best feeling in the world is when he’s done with the show and he hears “Hana hou!” and gets to run back on stage.
“That’s what I live for,” he says.
Brady admits that doing a show in Hawaii is especially important to him because he married a local girl and all of his wife’s family still lives here. Her sister Kristie Borja is a partner in Mandie’s newly launched women’s clothing line, Moonberries, and their father, Ron Taketa, is the head of the Hawaii Carpenters Union.
Brady has been seen frequently on Oahu since he met Mandie in 1995 when they were both doing a musical review called “Blast from the Past” at Aloha Tower. The two married in 1999 and since then have traveled to Hawaii at least once a month — now with the addition of their 2-year-old daughter Maile. Brady is often spotted hanging out in Kaneohe, shopping at Ala Moana Center or heading to his favorite local spot, Zippy’s, for a chili frank plate.
But Brady’s latest stop in Honolulu is part of a limited city tour he’s been doing around the country. The last time he was in the islands to perform was in 2002.
Immediately following his performance, Brady’s schedule continues to be jam-packed. He just finished filming two movies, Crossover, a drama about underground basketball in which Brady plays an amoral sports agent, and the romantic comedy Imperfect, in which he plays a guy looking for the perfect girl after his heart has been broken. Both movies will be out next year. Also look for Brady in the film Roll Bounce with Bow Wow, due to be released in September.
If Brady’s budding feature film career weren’t enough to keep him busy, he’s also been in the recording studio, lending his voice to two CD singles. Beautiful is You is out on the Cinderella DVD and Don’t Stop is being played on adult contemporary urban stations.
Brady plans to hop on a plane to Las Vegas this weekend to help Mandie set up for a big fashion show featuring her Moonberries line (which, by the way, has already been spotted on stars such as Toni Braxton and will be available in Hawaii soon, or currently at Moonberries.com).
From there, Brady will travel to Canada and the East Coast before he starts recording his first album. Also in the works is the development of a new TV show, and at the beginning of next year Brady starts work on the feature film Sexual Chocolate.
He’s come a long way from his days of doing community theatre in Florida. Brady started acting in high school when he was 16. “I never ever thought I would get into acting,” he remembers. “I was an incredibly scared kid. I had a horrible stutter that I couldn’t get over, and I was so frightened of my own voice that I was pretty silent when I was out in public. I was so frightened of other kids making fun of me that I shut myself down.” But an unexpected invitation from a friend to take over one line in a play — the line Brady remembers as “Yep, there she is” — helped him find his true calling.
“I walked into that theater and there were all these kids who were just like me,” he says. “They were called geeks by the other kids and they were artsy, and they were all running around singing and having a great time. It just clicked.”
Brady ended up with a lead role in the play, and that was the turning point. “It helped me get over my
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