Sept. 12--Welcome back to what's become a beloved rite of autumn hereabouts, right up there with Apple & Pork and Spoon River:
The early-September arrival of a "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" cast member, all the better to fill the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts to the rafters.
That filler includes both bodies and laughs, in about equal proportion.
For autumn '13, Wayne Brady is performing the honors with an interactive, get-set-to-join-in (he says) solo show at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
He arrives in the sold-out wakes of colleagues Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, circa 2011, and Ryan Stiles, circa 2012.
With Brady, Stiles, Mochrie and Sherwood having passed our way, that leaves original host Drew Carey as the last man standing. (Hello ... Drew?)
Unfazed by the high standard set by his predecessors, the 41-year-old Brady is orbiting Earth on his own career high at the moment.
As of September 2013, he's got sizable hits on both sides of the fence: daily, via the successful CBS revival of "Let's Make a Deal," brought in to salve wounds inflicted by the 2009 axing of "The Guiding Light"; and in prime time, via the CW's revival of another classic, Brady's own big deal, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," just renewed after a summer tryout.
The career high is just one of many since the Georgia native's 1998 arrival as a cast regular on the final season of the original British version of "Whose Line?," which segued straight into ABC's nine-season American version.
"I don't consider this multitasking at all," Brady insists when asked what it's like to juggle two hit series in tandem, along with live touring, a sidelines recording career, acting gigs and a
half-dozen other projects.
"It's just part of the work ethic that comes from my grandmother and my father, who raised me to work hard and put forth my best effort and blah-blah-blah. It's not necessarily a novel way to do things," he says matter-of-factly, as if everyone subscribes to the same work effort.
So why all the fuss?
"One hopes, on the average, that every parent says 'here is what you should do,' which is how I've raised my own kids."
At the moment of this interview, Brady has been cornered in the calm, so to speak, before the storm: a taping of one of the more frenzied game shows in TV annals, "Let's Make a Deal," once the province of its founder, 92-year-old Monty Hall, who remains on board as "creative consultant."
So whose show is it anyway?
"Monty drops by every blue moon because he's a consultant on the show, and he pats me on the back and says, 'I'm so glad it's you,' so I think that's a good thing," Brady recently told Parade Magazine.
Happily, Brady says, "The one thing that never changes is people want money."
But once again, amid all that frenzy of greed, Brady remains grounded.
"You know, I go to work like anybody else, except that I go to work on a TV show. But I still have to get up and make breakfast for my kid like everyone else and then drop her off at school and then drive into Hollywood for a staff meeting in the morning and then do the show in the afternoon and then come back home and have dinner and help my daughter with her homework."
Do ya still think that's sexy?
"It's not better or worse than anyone else's job, it's just ... different, probably because, unlike a 9-to-5 job, nothing in this profession is guaranteed, and you have to treat every performance like your life depended on it."
Viva la difference and dependence, especially when Brady gets out of the taping studio to do the kind of live show he'll be delivering Friday night at the BCPA.
About which, Brady says to expect the improvisational mastery that preceded him to the venue, courtesy of Mochrie, Sherwood and Styles.
"But, unlike Colin and Brad's show, for example, mine is by myself, along with a keyboard player and a backup singer," an embellishment reflective of his secondary career as a working musician (his 2008 album, "A Long Time Coming," made it to No. 20 on the R&B charts).
The mix of music and comedy, all off the cuff, will keep him interfacing with the audience, so come prepared.
"I'm a big audience person and I'll be communicating with them all evening, sometimes conversationally, which may lead into a scene or a monologue which may lead into a song," says Brady, all of which may lead just about anywhere.
"I try not to compare myself or compete with Ryan or Colin, who's a (bleeping) genius ... we're apples and oranges, and when we're out on our own we're all doing different things. It's pretty safe to say that when you saw Ryan, he did nothing Colin did, and when you see me you'll see nothing either of them did."
Save all that conjecturing for "Whose Line Is Anyway?," which Brady insists is better now than ever in its second stateside incarnation.
"Everywhere I've traveled around the world, there's an appetite for this show, because it still airs in prime time in India and South Africa and Australia and New Zealand," he says.
"And I knew for a fact that Colin and Ryan and myself were going to be at the top of our game ... we all feel we're better now than when we were doing it the first time around."
So whose turn will it be anyway, come autumn 2014 at the BCPA?
Drew, are you listening?
No Wayne, no gain
Wayne Brady's enviable TV series track record would suggest he's considered an airwaves good luck charm
1998: WB joins the original British version of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
1998: WB co-hosts VH1's "Vinyl Justice," as a cop busting "hazardous music."
1998-2007: WB segues to the American version of "Whose Line?" for an epic nine-year run on ABC and ABC Family.
2001: WB stars in his own ABC variety series, "The Wayne Brady Show."
2002-4: WB moves to daytime with "The Wayne Brady Show," and wins two Daytime Emmys.
2006: WB becomes the host of TV Land's "That's What I'm Talking About."
2007-9: WB hosts Fox U.S. version of the hit Brit game show, "Don't Forget the Lyrics!"
2009-present: WB takes the reigns from the legendary Monty Hall for CBS' revival of "Let's Make a Deal."
2012: WB joins old "Whose Line?" pal Colin Mochrie for ABC's short-lived improv series, "Trust Us with Your Life."
2013-14: This past summer's CW revival of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," is a ratings smash and has just been renewed for a second season.
At a glance
What: Wayne Brady
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 600 N. East St.
Tickets: $54 to $85
Box office: 866-686-9541
(c)2013 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)
Visit The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) at www.pantagraph.com
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