Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2017

Currently: 71° — Complete forecast

Audience plays a part in the mostly improv show

Who: Wayne Brady in "Making It Up"

When: 9:30 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, through April 29

Where: Venetian Showroom

Tickets: $69-$89; 414-1000

Rating: ****1/2

Actor, singer and improv artist Wayne Brady is making it up at the Venetian, and audiences are eating it up.

The actual title of the production is "Making (expletive deleted) Up" but for a family newspaper it's shortened to "Making It Up."

As the "expletive deleted" indicates, this show is a bit stronger than what television viewers are accustomed to from this multitalented entertainer.

It is for mature audiences, at least 16 and older.

The title pretty much sums up the production, which includes a couple of dancers, a five-piece band and assistant Jonathan Mangum.

Although there are a few set pieces within the show - including a touching ending in which Brady pays tribute to the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Luther Vandross and James Brown - most of the evening is made up.

Brady had an entertainment career long before he landed a spot on Drew Carey's TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" - but it was Brady's genius at improv that made him nationally known.

You can see his genius at work through the end of this month. His final performance in the limited engagement is April 29, far too brief for his many fans.

Although Mangum gets second billing if he gets any billing at all, he is an integral part of the show.

He is a gifted performer in his own right. He became friends with Brady years ago at the Sak theater in Orlando, Fla., where Brady first became serious about improv.

Both entertainers work with the improv group Houseful of Honkeys.

But it is Brady audiences come to see, and he has them eating out of his hand from the opening number - singing "Making (expletive deleted) Up" - to the final tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. ("Mr. Bojangles").

Because 90 percent of the show is improv, its success or failure depends a lot on the audience itself. A bad audience can kill a show.

"You folks are part of the show," he told a group recently. "If I come out and get you as a volunteer, don't run. It affects the vibes if I have to tackle you."

This night he was fortunate. The audience was there to have fun, and he had some excellent guests - including a silver-haired retiree from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, who likes to golf and line dance.

After interviewing her onstage, Brady made up a song using all of the information and sang it while line dancing with her.

The next bit involved the audience shouting out words not commonly found in a rap song. Brady then rapped a number using "obsequious," "oxymoron" and "puke."

The only slowdown in this otherwise fast-paced evening was a bit in which Mangum and Brady create a scene and perform it over and over using the style of different movies shouted out by the audience (among them "Die Hard," "Kujo," "Pulp Fiction" and "Godfather").

It was slowly set up and slowly executed, although there were some hilarious moments.

Brady has expressed an interest in finding a home on the Strip. He certainly has the following and the talent. And I'm not just making that up.