Review: Wayne Brady
Opera House, Wellington, 7 May
When Wayne Brady takes the stage, you can't help feeling just a little excited.
The Whose Line Is It Anyway? star is in New Zealand for the comedy festival and his performance at the Opera House in Wellington last night was packed.
At $80 a ticket, you'd hope to get value for money. But let's face it, one of the world's top improv stars (okay, THE top improv star), is hardly going to leave his audience short-changed.
The improv juggernaut took off with Brady's stage partner, Jonathan Mangum, having plucked several tongue-tying, multisyllabic words (including cucumber and jelly bean) from the audience. Brady's job was to include every one of the words into a rap song and apart from a really nasty one - which nobody seemed to have ever heard of - he nailed it.
It launched what would be 90 minutes of improv gold involving the entire audience.
Brady and Mangum launched into a skit called "one-word story", where each of them could say (surprise, surprise) only one word at a time. It was fantastically brilliant and so simple, and all anchored on one audience member not being read any bedtime stories as a kid.
"New choice" also had the audience bent double. A pick-a-path scenario, it focused on an audience member's holiday experience. As this IT professional had only been to the South Island for a holiday (and yes, we South Islanders got the Auckland treatment), Brady ordered him to pick a better place.
Tokyo it was, and Mangum and Brady launched into the story. Every time the adjudicator said "new choice" they had to pick a new response and soon this IT professional's holiday involved Japanese porn and kinky websites about Yellow Fever.
Celebrity Idol was the cherry on the top and involved song titles written by the audience.
It was brilliant. And a bit mind-blowing. And a bit disturbing to think of what is in some people's minds.
In a really creepy resemblance to Creed, Brady belted out the Anthem For The Eradication Of The Elderly And Incontinent.
To Justin Bieber's Baby, he melted hearts with Sheep Shagger (it was disturbing, but God, it was funny).
That's When I Lost My Arms was sung to MC Hammer's Can't Touch This hit, and embattled National list MP Aaron Gilmore was featured in Brady's Rolling Stones tribute, Do You Know Who Aaron Gilmore Is? It featured the lines "sooner or later, they're going to kick you right out the door".
But the absolute highlight was Brady's take on Prince, with a song called The Sneaky Sausage. It was hysterical. Mangum was bent over double. And Brady couldn't sing in parts because he was laughing so hard.
The only awkward part of the night was the Whose Line? hit, Sound Effects. Brady did his best, but when you get a quiet audience member making the sound effects for you, it's never going to be as good as Colin Mochrie. It's fair to say the Whose Line? team have set a high bar and Brady made the point of saying a new season of the show had been filmed and would hopefully be on New Zealand screens next year.
This was a great show, and well worth the money.
If you ever get the chance to see Brady live, fork out the cash and see the legend. Unless you're a soulless individual devoid of a sense of humour, you won't be disappointed.