Improvisational entertainer Wayne Brady doesn't do standup routines, but on occasion an ambitiousness attitude brought him violently down in both a wrestling ring and in the Lake Tahoe wilderness.
The first time Brady ever performed at Caesars Tahoe, which since 2006 is named MontBleu, he spent an afternoon snowmobiling. He attempted to hurtle his machine over a ditch and in an instant was on his back in the snow, fortunately with his ride a safe distance from him.
"That was God's way of saying, 'Watch out, dummy!' Brady said. "I lived to ride another day."
The fall he took on a wrestling canvas undoubtedly came with mental anguish because he knew it was coming. Randy Keith Ortman took Brady down with his signature RKO move which appears highly dangerous. But as a lifelong pro wrestling fan, Brady was willing to play a long.
"Not everyone can say, 'I got laid out on national TV during a wrestling match,' " Brady said. "He grabs your head, twists you neck and you go up in the air and he slams your head down. Even in the choreography there is an element of danger. This guy really could break my neck just accidentally."
That was one occasion when Brady knew better that to improvise, or what he calls "spontaneous theater."
Brady has performed his craft all over the globe since 1990. He spoke with Lake Tahoe Action by telephone earlier this week from Puerto Rico. Brady's career ascended during the eight-year run which began in 1998 of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" He returns to MontBleu for a 9 p.m. performance.
"I have been doing it so long in a few mediums that you would think it's just jump out the car, run on stage and call it a night," Brady said. "But every time I jump on stage, I have that fear: 'Whatever you do, don't suck.' "
It's hard to imagine the sharp, poised performer motivated by fear. But there is always a concern that the spontaneity well might on occasion run dry.
"Improv is an imperfect art anyway, so you are actually going to try to make something funny out of something that is not going to be right," he said. "If you do it the right way, then it's great. But if you go at it the wrong way, then it's horrible. So you are always walking this line.
"I use that please-don't-suck energy and I suck it up and jump on stage and it helps me. I think the day that I don't feel that, that's probably the day I should hang it up."
While he's best known for improv, Brady also is a musician, and he said he is in the process of recording a soul record in the spirit of a modern day Otis Redding or Sam Cooke. He produced a children's record last year for Disney after he was inspired by a song he heard his daughter sing. The tracks have messages encouraging good manners, hygiene and giving lessons about history.
And while it's not official yet, Brady expects to soon begin a fourth season of the CBS daytime program "Let's Make A Deal." He also is beginning a new endeavor producing two television shows.
"What's the alternative?" he asked. "Why wait for people to give you work when you can go out there and seize it?"