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Here Comes the Wayne Again

Show us the funny: Wayne Brady, master of improv.
copyright Buena Vista Television

Two years ago, Wayne Brady and I shared a moment. During a Friday-night gig at the Tempe Improv, he pulled me onstage, asked me a handful of questions and performed an impromptu song about my so-called life.

As viewers of ABC's Whose Line Is It Anyway? know, Brady can sing. Big deal. And, sure, the man can dance -- if you consider that kind of thing impressive. But it takes a little more than killer looks, high-speed humor, engaging charm, a sexy voice and hot moves to stir this jaded journalist.

And then he did it: He rhymed "adroit" with "Detroit." The vocabulary geek in me wet her pants.

One could say that the playful performer, currently conquering the TV dial, is adroitly winning fans everywhere he goes. A two-time Emmy nominee for his slick-witted work on Whose Line (for which he recently finished filming a season's worth of new episodes), Brady hosted last month's Miss America pageant -- the first black emcee in the competition's history. And last season's prime-time Wayne Brady Show has been transformed into this season's daytime Wayne Brady Show, airing weekdays on ABC.

On weekends, Brady hits the road with his musical improvisation act, set to take the stage at the Arizona State Fair this Sunday, October 20. Comedy fans who think they know improv may be surprised: This routine is hardly the same old song-and-dance.

"I think of it as an improvised concert," Brady says. "I figured, if I was gonna keep doing improv on the road, I wanted to make it something that you couldn't just go to any old Improv or turn on Whose Line and see." Backed by a band, he morphs into various performers -- from a strutting Tina Turner to a frenetic James Brown to a cheeky Mick Jagger -- based on suggestions from the audience.

Perhaps even more impressive than Brady's versatility is his commitment to keeping it clean. While reveling in the raunchy is common practice for many comedians, Brady deftly sidesteps the occasional lewd audience suggestion, proving that funny and filthy don't have to go hand in hand.

Obviously, his PG persona isn't hurting his popularity. When he's not touring or taping, he's busy developing shows with his production company, making guest appearances and mulling over film offers. Though the man is in demand, his modesty is in check.

Discussing the success of his current tour, Brady says, "The musical improv is something that I think I do . . . okay." A wicked knack for understatement -- add it to his list of talents.


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