ORLANDO, Fla. – Comedy fans are raising their glasses in a drinking song that toasts Central Florida native and birthday boy, Wayne Brady.
The award-winning comedian, musician and current host of CBS game show “Let’s Make A Deal” turned 50 on Thursday.
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While many people have seen Brady, who gained fame for his wild musical and improvisational skills on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” and his winning smile flash across their TV screens for years, he wasn’t always in front of the camera.
The multihyphenate marvel got his start in Tangelo Park, his love of comedy and theater taking root and blossoming in Central Florida.
After graduating from Dr. Phillips High School, Brady performed all over the theme parks and began doing short form improv at downtown Orlando’s SAK Comedy Lab, a place he still returns to and credits as sparking his passion for the craft.
“I can trace my growth of being this kid who wanted, but didn’t know exactly what I wanted ... then once I got to Dr. Phillips I got a taste and then that journey started,” Brady told News 6 anchor Julie Broughton in an interview back in 2019.
He’s so embedded in Central Florida’s culture, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer even declared Oct. 12 as Wayne Brady Day to commemorate the day Brady brought his improv show to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Brady’s beginnings led to bigger breaks on Broadway, in musicals like “Kinky Boots” and “Chicago,” and on television, where he’s transformed into everything from improviser, musician, game show personality, talk show host and voiceover actor on top of his typical acting roles.
“I don’t like to be compartmentalized,” Brady said. “It just goes against my nature. It actually makes me angry because it wasn’t the way I was raised as performer. There’s no reason I can’t be Roman Centurion, there’s no reason I can’t play an Italian gangster, why I can’t play a king ... There’s no reason why I can’t play the good guy or the bad guy.”
His self-coined “Brady roles” extend beyond the world of acting and into the studio, where he’s produced cover and children’s albums, even earning a Grammy nod for his rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” off his debut album, “A Long Time Coming.”
And while he may appear cool, calm and collected on the outside, there’s a “hamster wheel” of energy and inspiration firing on all cylinders when he gets in front of the cameras or onto the stage.
“I’m one of the only performers on TV who can walk on a stage and you say, ‘Here are the parameters of the show’ and (then) turn on the camera and I go. I will give (a) show no matter what it is,” said Brady, the building blocks for his ability to adapt grown from years of improv and live shows.
When he’s off camera, though, he appreciates stillness.
“All I want is to just chill. So I’m like that because I like to give 100% every time you see me,” Brady said.
So, a toast to Brady and what is hopefully a day of quiet amid the chaos.
You can catch Brady on “Let’s Make a Deal” weekdays at 3 p.m. on News 6.