Wayne Brady didn’t know he was going to be writing a rant. He was under the illusion that this was a standard-issue interview.
“Not so!” I informed him, in so many words. “The Rant is a special feature. It is scientifically engineered to get you as many hate e-mails as humanly possible. It is super fun. Spill your guts, Brady. What drives you crazy when you’re performing?”
Fortunately, Brady has plenty of improv experience — he’s best known for his work on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” — and, to promote his performances at the Kennedy Center this week in “NSO Pops: Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys,” a musical tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. and Sam Cooke, he was game to play along.
To begin: Brady hates “Jersey Shore.” “I come from the school of show business where talent matters,” he said. “In this day and age, talent isn’t necessarily the most desirable skill. It’s about self-promotion: who has the most Twitter followers, the most Facebook [friends], all these social networks I’m just becoming savvy to.”
Are you on Twitter?
“Sometimes I think Twitter does good stuff. But . . . it gives anyone a voice. And the bad part about that is just because you’ve got a voice doesn’t mean you’ve got something credible to say.”
If you’re going to tweedle-dee your night away, Brady would prefer you not do so at the theater. “I sure hate it when people text when I’m doing my show. It speaks to where our culture is right now in terms of manners.”
He gets that sometimes people are texting because they are enjoying the performance and would like to tell their friends about it/want to make their friends jealous. “But . . . in the second that you’re taking to do that, maybe you’re missing something. Maybe you’re distracting the person onstage or the person next to you.”
He stopped himself. “I don’t want to sound like someone from the 1950s, because I am just as linked to my cellphone in an annoyingly disturbing way. But I also come from the place of, if I’m going to see a Broadway musical, [I’ll be] completely riveted by their performance. Otherwise I could just stay home and play Angry Birds.”
It is not just the audience that has the power to drive Brady to rant. Fellow actors, be warned. “Just be mindful of your warm-ups. We all have certain rituals and warm-ups that we do. If saying ‘kaKAW!’ in three octaves and doing it half-naked is your way of getting ready, go ahead, but don’t do it near me.”
Has that happened to you?
Pause. “Something like that.”
7 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW.
www.kennedy-center.org or 202-467-4600.
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