Wayne Brady is performing at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury tonight, but he has no idea what he'll be doing.
"It will be an improv show from beginning to end, so I don't know what is going to happen," the Emmy-winning comedian says. "I do a Q&A in the middle of the show, then use those questions to generate stories that turn into songs and different characters. No show is ever the same."
Assisted by comedian Jonathan Mangum and pianist Cat Gray, Brady will build a show before the audience's eyes, just like he does on his popular TV program, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
"When I perform live, it's 'Whose Line' times 10. I call it spontaneous theater," says Brady, who draws a crowd that ranges from college students to senior citizens. "It's about me creating a scene and writing the dialogue as I go along."
Growing up, Brady's mom made him watch a lot of PBS. He idolized multitalented stars who could act, sing and dance, such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Kaye and Gene Kelly.
"I like the way they carried themselves," he says. "They were always in control, the ladies loved them, and they were classy. I wanted to be just like those guys."
As a young man, Brady worked as a performer at both Disney and Universal theme parks, where he developed a strong work ethic and exuberance.
"You find out who you are as a performer when you have to do something day-in and day-out," says Brady. "It's about giving people the show they paid to see and killing it in every way, shape or form."
AS A HOST
These days, Brady pours all his skills into his job as host of CBS' version of the classic game show "Let's Make a Deal," which he says is different from the original.
"We added a new twist to the game -- there's room for comedy, music and audience participation," he says. "My improv skills come in handy when you are hosting because you have to think fast on your feet."
AS AN ACTOR
Brady also appeared on the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," where he portrayed Barney Stinson's (Neil Patrick Harris) gay half-brother, James.
While the series came to a close earlier this week, Brady says it was a good run. "It's like reading a great book -- eventually you are going to finish," he says. "I had an amazing time. My character was able to come in and be Barney's grounding influence."
AS A SINGER
One of the things Brady loves to do is sing. Not only does he incorporate singing into his improv comedy, but he's become a bona fide recording artist. In 2008, he released his debut album, "A Long Time Coming," which garnered him a Grammy nomination.
"Making music is a real love for me," says Brady, who is planning to release a new EP this spring. "Seeing an audience singing your song back to you is the best thing in the world."
AS A COMIC
The CW network recently revived "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" reuniting Brady with his old pals Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles, whom he grew up watching on the British version of the show.
"We have a shorthand that lets us have fun," says Brady. "The chemistry is right there as soon as we step onstage."
Improv, Brady says, is not a skill that can be easily taught. "It's 75 percent natural, 25 percent whatever else you bring with you," he says. "The good ones are pretty well read. It's definitely a smart man's game."
WHEN | WHERE 8 Thursday night at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
INFO 516-334-0800, thetheatreatwestbury.com
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