Wayne Brady’s schedule is a multitasker's dream come true. He's gearing up to host this year’s BET Honors in February, traveling the country for his "It's My Line" Tour, taping a new season of "Whose Line Is It Anyway," recording his own music and producing and selling sitcoms—and that’s not all.
All the while, Brady plays dad to his 10-year-old daughter, Maile, whom he is raising with ex-wife Mandie Taketa. The tales from their parenting adventures are pure gold. No, really. The divorced couple has their own production company, Frankie and Johnny, and recently sold a sitcom about their unique story.
Before his tour stops in Chicago on Feb. 28, Brady hopped on the phone to talk about his ex, a viral dating rumor and his weakness for ice cream.
Wayne Brady "It's My Line” Tour
8 p.m. Feb. 28 at The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.)
$38.50-$58.50, thechicagotheatre.com chicagotheatre.com
When you see Chicago on your itinerary, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Because I’ve been there in winter a lot, I mainly think of how cold it is during the winter. I also think I used to have such a great time there. I used to shoot a show called “Quick Wits” at the NBC building—I think we used to use the Jerry Springer stage or right next to the Jerry Springer stage. ... That was a really cool period in my life. That was pre-”Whose Line.” That show used to air right after "Saturday Night Live;" it was a syndicated sketch show. They used to fly us out to Chicago, so we worked with a lot of Second City people. That’s when I fell in love with your town.
What do you need in your dressing room before a live show?
Hot tea with a lot of honey, because it's 90 minutes worth of improv and talking and singing. I think as the years have gone by and I've toured, I don’t really need a lot because I don’t spend a lot of time there at the venue. I used to show up early, and of course you’d have all the stuff you want—you’d have all this food, and hook up my TV and my PlayStation. Now I come right from the hotel, and just hit it. It’s really not too "rock star," but as long as I’ve got my tea and some Red Bulls, then I’m ready to roll.
You and your ex-wife Mandie have your own production company and recently sold a sitcom. What’s it about?
It's loosely based on my life and my life with my life with my ex-wife, who is my production partner. And she’s an amazing producer and actress and artist in her own right. It’s about us co-parenting and raising our daughter even though we live in different homes and have different lives. That’s kind of the new model for a lot of families, and we definitely try to maintain a great relationship so that our daughter has both of her parents and knows that we respect each other, and what life’s like.
What's the secret to working and getting along with your ex?
I think the secret isn’t really a secret. It’s the same thing that I think you put into a friendship. You treat your friend a certain way, and you expect to be treated a certain way. It’s harder, of course, when there’s water under the bridge in the past, but if there’s a child involved, then it’s your responsibility to make it work. Unless that person did something so horrible to you that you can’t stand them. So I think in terms of Mandie and myself, our secret has been Mandie. She’s incredibly patient and just super giving, and super forgiving. She’s definitely taken the stance of, I want to make our friendship work, and that’s just made life great and easy and, obviously something’s going right because besides co-parenting we’re able to create together.
Earlier this month there was a rumor going around that you were dating TLC’s Chilli, and you took to Twitter to tell fans it wasn’t true. How do you decide when to let things go and when to speak up through social media?
Most of the time now, I just let things go. But when it concerns someone else, like the rumor concerned Chilli, then I definitely need to go and fix that. Because not just for me, but also for her. I would never want her thinking that I was trying to help fan the flames of the rumor, because she’s [been] a friend of mine for years. She’s a gorgeous woman—who wouldn’t want to be linked to her? But being a gentleman is a gentleman. If it was ever printed, I’d want it to be true.
You also tweet about random things, like resisting the urge to pig out because you want to fit in your suits. What’s one thing you can’t help but pig out on?
I’m definitely an ice cream man. I love Oreo milkshakes or dulce de leche, salted caramel ice cream—that kind of stuff. ... That’s the thing that I’ve got to watch out for. I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth. I have discipline with a lot of other things, but that’s my potential ruiner right there.
Speaking of suits, you’re a very stylish guy. Where would people be surprised to learn you shop?
The one extravagance I’ve indulged in in the past decade or so—because I can—I tend to shop at places like Dolce and Gabbana and Prada for my suits. Just because growing up, I was never able to. It’s very weird that you feel differently in a suit that fits you to a T than you do in some basketball shorts and your Jordans. I also like Zara. Zara’s got a lot of the same fit as some of the high-end stuff.
Last question! What song is stuck in your head right this second?
The song that I can’t get rid of—because I;m trying to write something for the BET Honors—is "Bright Lights, Bigger City" by Cee-Lo [Green]. That’s just over and over and over in my head because I’m trying to write a parody to it. So I can’t get rid of it right now.
Morgan Olsen is a RedEye special contributor.