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September 15, 2014

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What can’t Brady do?

Improv star moves effortlessly from film to CD to the stage, and never runs out of steam

Beyond the Sun

Improv virtuoso Wayne Brady is back in the house, and the house is full.

Last week he returned to his throng of adoring fans in the showroom at the Venetian after a taking a month off to tour the country promoting his latest CD, “A Long Time Coming.”

The brilliant entertainer, who seems to have no limit to his talent, has a lot to kick up his heels about these days.

He’s working on film projects, including doing voices for the animated features “Foodfight!” and “The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon.” Brady also hosts “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” on Fox television.

And this summer marked his first anniversary as a headliner at the Venetian.

“I’m having an incredible time in Las Vegas,” Brady says. “Being here gives me a chance to stay in one place for a while instead of the constant touring and filming I was used to for a number of years. I can hop in a plane and go to L.A. to see my little girl and then get back to Vegas and kick butt five nights a week. I still get a chance to do my TV show and any movies that come up.”

The CD — an eclectic collection of covers from Sammy Davis Jr. to Sam Cooke — is the freshest project on his mind.

“ ‘A Long Time Coming’ is the kind of album that says a lot about myself as a performer,” Brady says. “I would like to think of myself as a variety type of performer — actor, drama, comedy, music, musical, theater. This album crosses all genres.”

The title may fit the album, but certainly not Brady’s skyrocket ride to stardom.

Brady, 37, began performing professionally at age 16 and since then has covered most the bases in entertainment — singing, acting and standup comedy. He performs onstage — from Vegas to Broadway — and in films and on TV.

His charismatic personality quickly connects with his audiences and he pulls them into his fold.

“Making **it up” at the Venetian is one of the Strip’s “must see” shows, one that — given the nature of improv — changes nightly.

Brady and co-star Jonathan Mangum are a perfect comedy tag team, foils who have worked together for so many years they can almost read each other’s minds.

The production comes out high energy and the batteries don’t run down throughout the show — both Brady and Mangum have a bottomless reservoir of material.

Brady isn’t surprised by the success of the show.

“That’s not a cocky answer,” he says. “I wouldn’t have signed on and taken the risk with my name and livelihood if I didn’t think I would kick butt. I have to think that way. I have played Vegas enough over the years — and gotten enough love each time I came here — people let me know I was definitely someone they were willing to come out and see and to spend the evening with me.

“I’m glad it paid off.”

Brady couldn’t be happier here.

“The image of Vegas is changing,” he says. “A long time ago it used to be the most incredible place for live performances, then it became kitschy and ‘Vegas performer’ had an odd ring to it. But thanks to Celine Dion and Elton John and performers of that caliber, everybody wants a gig here now — and I’m lucky enough to be one of those guys.”

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