Wayne Brady to mix improv, song, dance in solo act
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer
Yeah, Wayne Brady. The guy who made improv comedy safe for prime time as a cast member of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" The guy upon whom ABC bestowed his very own (and sadly short-lived) variety/sketch program, "The Wayne Brady Show." The guy with a brand-spanking-new syndicated daytime talk show going up against Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O'Donnell replacement Caroline Rhea in the fall.
He's also here about one weekend a month, if not emptying supermarkets of their entire stock of hot-n-spicy Spam ("My father-in-law got me hooked on it. They don't have it here in Los Angeles."), then couching at wife (O'ahu-born and reared Castle High School grad) Mandie Taketa's parents' house.
Brady called us from the couple's Los Angeles home, a day away from another Hawai'i trip this one a working vacation and the excitement of all the Spam musubi he could possibly handle in one week.
With Mandie a local girl, you must know about omiyage, right?
Oh, yes. Yeah.
So what does the family generally ask the two of you to bring from the Mainland?
It really doesn't apply to us ... because I come home so frequently. But, normally, whenever I come, I might bring stuff for my nephews. I love 'em. So I bring them video games and I pretty much spoil them rotten ... throw 'em into a sugar fit, and then leave them for their parents to handle.
And I'll bet their parents soooo appreciate that.
Oh, yeah. It's like, 'Thanks, Wayne.' And then I say, 'Bye bye!'
Is the show you're bringing here this weekend anything like your last Hawai'i gigs at Diamond Head Theatre in November 2000?
No, and that's what I think is really cool. I'm definitely doing more of a solo thing. I brought a couple of friends with me last time. But this time it's solo improv.
I'll have a couple of dancers that I'll be dancing with, and I do a couple of straight musical numbers. And then I do musical impersonations. I do Stevie Wonder, James Brown ... I do a whole James Brown section and then I do James Brown trying to tell stand-up jokes. Then there's Sammy Davis Jr. singing "That Ol' Black Magic" and then breaking out into "The Thong Song" by Sisquo. There's Louis Armstrong and Michael Jackson.
And then I do an improvised concert where the audience gives me about 10 to 15 titles of songs they'd like to hear completely random, made-up titles like "Hey, I Dropped My Dog" and then a list of styles that they'd like to hear 'em in ... musical styles or musical impersonations. And then I perform 'em.
Jeez, Wayne, is that all?
(Laughs.) I've also brought the kitchen sink.
About your new daytime talk show ...
Yeah, it's going to be taking Rosie O'Donnell's place in a lot of markets across the country, and then on ... ABC (channels).
The trades are really buzzing about the show. The word is that (ABC parent company) Disney is putting a lot of financial muscle behind your show to make sure it succeeds big time. Nervous much?
Well, that's the stuff that you've got to be nervous about. All I want it to be is good. I can't worry about what the network wants from me ... or the studio. I just want people to be able to tune in daily and feel, 'OK, this is good, and I'm happy with letting Wayne into my house.' I would much rather worry about what the people across the country think than what a couple of suits up in the glass towers feel.
Rosie's show is second only to Oprah's in the ratings. Are you planning an attack on the big O?
No, because my aim is to entertain, and Oprah's is to change the world and make 'em read a book.
So what's your club going to be all about?
You know what, I really haven't really given it a lot of thought. I would like to have a video game club, but I'm sure that a lot of the women that (will) watch the show (won't) play video games. So I'll have to think of something else.
The last time we talked, a year and a half ago, you mentioned your love for kalbi from Yumi's Place and Zippy's chili. And that about covered your adventures in local cuisine. Tell me you've added something else to the list.
(Laughs.) You know, I'm sad to say that's still what I pretty much exist on. I'm dieting right now, so that when I get there, I can completely just pig out. I've added Spam musubi. I pretty much eat Spam musubi for breakfast, and then every other meal is either kalbi and kim chee or chili frank.
One last thing. Your in-laws don't ask you to bring anything, but I'll just bet you're taking stuff home.
Well, if Zippy's would like to donate any chili ...