He’s performed on Broadway, won multiple Emmys, received a Grammy nod and totally dominated during the second season of Fox’s “The Masked Singer” behind the Fox mask.
He also hosts “Let’s Make a Deal” and brought on the laughs for many years with “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” not to mention his time on “How I Met Your Mother” or his self-named show.
And now the iconic comedian, musician and all-around talent Wayne Brady is making his way to BYUtv on Monday with his brand new, highly hilarious and yet ridiculously competitive reality series, “Wayne Brady's Comedy IQ.”
Inspired by the ongoing Lifetime television series “The Rap Game,” produced by Jermaine Dupri and Queen Latifah, “Comedy IQ” focuses on a group of talented young artists as they compete to show not just how funny they can be right now, but what kind of potential they might have as they focus on developing their particular skill sets.
“I started performing when I was 16, and along the way I learned you have to be able to do it all,” Brady said in an introduction to the show. “So that’s why I’ve created my own Academy of Funny, to teach young people to use their talents, whether it’s singing, dancing or acting to be funny.”
Starting with auditions and eventually narrowing down to just six competitors, Brady’s “Comedy IQ” will offer a curriculum that includes a unique blend of challenges, from sketch work to improvisation, comedy to stand-up and storytelling.
So how does one determine a comedy IQ?
“It’s a tough question and to anyone reading they’ll have to watch and see,” Brady said in an interview regarding the show. “I’m very specific with them that I’m not judging them on their funny, I’m judging them on their aptitude for learning, and I’m judging them on how they’re able to put those lessons I’m teaching into play. When I started off, it was all about learning, falling, getting back on the horse and doing it even better, so I think to really judge someone’s comedy IQ, at least in terms of my show, it was how can you learn all of the skills to be able to do your comedy.”
According to Brady, some of the competitors have no past comedic experience but rather come from a musical or theatrical background, which is a challenge he’s personally overcome.
“I had no comedic experience,” Brady said. “I was a musical theater actor who had a natural propensity to do improv.”
From there, Brady said he quickly learned to start utilizing his other skills and find ways to build on them and apply them to his comedy, something he hopes the contestants of “Comedy IQ” will be able to do as well.
The original concept for the show is courtesy of Brady’s producing partner, Mandie Taketa and, as mentioned, came after the pair watched “The Rap Game,” where young rappers are given opportunities to develop their skills and create a burgeoning career.
“What a great thing to be able to tap into and support young talent,” Brady said. “That’s a passion of mine and a passion of Mandie’s. She said, ‘You should do this, but do it with everything you know about improv and sketch.’ Being able to pass on knowledge and teach is a love I’ve had for years with a goal of someday opening my own school.”
That conversation sparked a journey which brought in Intuitive Entertainment, the production company for “The Rap Game,” as well as Provo-based network BYUtv.
“We found the perfect partner in BYUtv,” Brady said. “They understand family, understand teens and see the line that we were trying to walk between finding someone who was young, but still old enough to grasp everything that I wanted to teach. In the way of all business things, it just connected.”
According to Brady, that kind of connection is actually another goal and trajectory for the show.
“I wanted to help people, teens specifically, be able to navigate the waters of talent in this day and age of Instagram and Facebook,” Brady said. “It’s changed the business. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to connect on social, but a lot of people on social media aren’t necessarily talented. … Just because you’re popular doesn’t make you talented, and you have to have the talent in order to get anywhere in the business. That’s why we wanted to do something talent first, talent forward; the old school way of business.”
From singing and writing to dancing and producing, “Comedy IQ” is about preparing young artists for whatever may come their way in order to make them complete performers.
“As the season goes on, they’ll become very attached to the young actors — they’re all so good and we put them through the ringer,” Brady said of the show’s upcoming debut. “We really made it hard for them because that’s the business. We school them on improv, which was a given, sketch comedy, writing music, using music, and using dance and music in your comedy, using all the gifts you have, learning to write your own improv, learning to write stories that come from you. … It got harder and harder teaching lessons I had a lifetime to learn, and shoving it into their brains in 10 weeks. It’s fun, heartfelt, a lot of comedy and a lot of exposing the process.”
According to Brady, though the show is comedy-centric, it’s certainly for far more than just fans of the funnies.
“It shows the magic trick, which is hard work and using the brain; learning how to get to that point. It’s very exciting, not just for fans of comedy but fans of the art.
“It’s a great journey and they’re going to watch future stars in the making on BYUtv,” Brady continued. “I’m so happy that this show exists at this specific time when we all need something to rally around and make us feel better. I think it’s pretty inspirational to watch these kids take this journey, so I’m happy that we were able to make a show which can be of service right now in this dark time. So that’s what I’m happy about, that we can be here for the viewers and bring families together.”