Wayne Brady _ 'I look pretty damn good in those heels'
Nov. 19, 2015
NEW YORK (AP) — Ladies in heels, you've got an apology from Wayne Brady.
The comedian and TV host used to be the guy constantly asking his female companions in stilettos to hurry up. Now that's he's wearing heels, he's sorry.
"You know what, Wayne Brady? Shut up. I get it. I'll never say it again," he said this week. "I've learned to completely give props to every female that straps on a pair of heels every day to walk to work."
Brady's change of heart is due to a pretty severe change in his footwear from sneakers to 8-inch flaming-red, knee-high stiletto boots.
This weekend he's replacing Tony Award-winner Billy Porter as the drag queen Lola in the Broadway musical "Kinky Boots" for a four-month run. He's already lost a toenail.
"I've learned that my tolerance for pain is a little higher than I thought it was," he said. "I've learned your big toe might swell up to the size of a small vegetable. But I've also learned that I'm probably having the most fun that I've had in years in those boots."
It's a move that may seem unconventional for fans of the Emmy-winning improv comedian from "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and the squeaky-clean host of TV's "Let's Make a Deal."
But Brady — as he proved not too long ago with a hysterical skit on "Chappelle's Show" as a cop-killing pimp — has a lot more to offer than PG-rated TV.
"Those are things that I love and embrace, but that's not the totality of me," he said. "Instead of people feeling they know who I am, I'm ready for me to grab onto the things that I know that I love. And doing a show like this is a huge step in that direction."
Brady was motivated to tap into his inner woman onstage after recently turning 43. That made him assess where he'd been and where he's going.
"It makes me look at myself as a man and go, 'OK, 45 is this far away. Fifty is that far away. Sixty is that far away. What's the rest going to be like?'" he said. "Sometimes God just goes, 'Here' because He knows this is what you need and you're ready for."
During a recent vocal session at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, Brady sounded fierce as he belted out "Land of Lola" from the musical, with lyrics that could also describe him now: "I am freedom, I'm constriction/ A potpourri of contradiction."
Brian Usifer, the music director, played piano as Brady's voice soared. They worked on some of the trickier lyrics, and then Usifer advised the star to pull back at the end of the tune to save his voice. Brady tried it at a lower register and smiled. "Oh, yeah! Cool. Thank you."
It is Brady's first return to Broadway since he made his debut in 2004 in the musical "Chicago," but he was comfortable onstage before he became a TV star. He often learned multiple parts in shows on cruise ships.
Music has also been a big part of Brady's improv work, and he earned a Grammy nomination for his single "A Change is Gonna Come" off his debut musical album, "A Long Time Coming." He hopes to soon do a TV special of his live improv music show.
He's been a fan of "Kinky Boots" — he had hoped to land the job as Lola in workshops — and saw Porter play the role some four times before being asked to replace him. The original Lola has shared some tricks, including: ice your muscles, stretch and get regular massages. "You learn at the feet of the elders," Brady said.
Brady knows there may be some fans who may not like seeing him in a miniskirt and fetish boots, and that's fine. He noticed that a tiny group of people had nasty things to say when Taye Diggs played a transgender rocker in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
"If someone can't come with me because I'm playing a drag queen, then I'll be perfectly honest: Maybe you're not the person that I want to come with me anywhere as a fan," he said.
If they don't, it will be their loss.
"We did a walkthrough two days ago with the cast for the first time and I've got to say, I look pretty damn good in those heels."
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits