The multi-talented Wayne Brady, who's currently the host of the popular game show Let's Make A Deal, took a break from his hosting duties to go on tour with his completely "spontaneous" improv show. While promoting his upcoming performance in Flint on February 11th, he sets the record straight about a few things in an interview with The Flint Journal.
Here's a few excerpts from that interview:
You've played different roles, sang different types of songs, and found ways to use all of your talents at once. In Hollywood, and even in music, a lot of black performers talk about the difficulties of being boxed in, as you've mentioned. Did you feel a lot of pressure to conform before you found your own lane like you have now?
I think you always feel that pressure as a black performer in Hollywood, simply because not every role is written for us. There's not a lot of roles written for us. Film-wise, unless you are one of the big cats, a lot of those roles go to them, or they want people who they don't have to pay. You end up having to create your own vehicles and create your own lane. That's what I eventually learned to do. I'm not going to get this film role? I will wait until that happens. But until then, I will do everything I can, both on TV and live, to make sure that folks keep on seeing me so I remain relevant.
Many people also liked your appearance on Chappelle's Show. Do people still walk up to you and say, "I'm Wayne Brady, bitch!" Or has that died down a little bit?
Nope. Every day, someone will come up to me and say, "Does Wayne Brady have to choke a bitch?" They say it on Twitter all the time, or I'll be walking down the street and someone says, "I'm Wayne Brady, bitch." It's cool, because it's great to have something in the zeitgeist. Not everyone can say they've done something that sticks around, and that's cool.
The flip side of it is, that was a moment for me. It was incredibly funny, and I love Dave, and I loved doing the show, and I think that for the people that I'll say in a nice way that were ignorant of my total package, I think it kind of shown them something else that they didn't know was there. But I knew that was always there, because that's just what I've always done on stage. That's cool, but I don't live in that moment. So to have that come up every day, you kind of go, "OK, there it is again."
But it's way better for people to remember you for something good and positive that was good work, than to be remembered for something infamous like a sex tape or something. So I live with it, it's cool.
When the comedian Paul Mooney's joke on "Chappelle's Show" — "White people like Wayne Brady, because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X" — originally aired, did it offend you?
It absolutely offended me. To a degree, it still offends me every time I see some white kid post that on Twitter as a way to get my attention. But the thing is, they're actually a fan, and they think that's funny because of the follow-up, which was my sketch. Not to go into it, because this interview is really about my appearance in Michigan. To keep it simple, I get offended at that not because I don't have a sense of humor. Of course, this is my profession. We make jokes about each other all the time. It's no different from when I was on the bus, and we had to trade "Yo Mama" jokes and I had to shut people up, and they're like, "Oh no, Wayne just shut me down!" I get that.
I get offended from a bigger level, in the fact of black people, we are one of the only races that I feel, if someone is judged as not being black enough, no matter how well they're doing, the thought isn't, "Hey, look how good that brother's doing, and he represents us, and if he can get in that door, we can get in that door." People take it to be, "Ugh, look at him. He only got there because white people put him on. Listen to how he talks. He's not hard, he doesn't do this, he's a square." Taking the negative slant.
I'm not just talking about me. I'm talking about folks that get on the bandwagon and hate on our president. I mean the people who get on the bandwagon who hate on black politicians, black lawyers – folks that have taken steps to not just succeed in the world, but do so carrying the flag of their race on their back. So from that viewpoint, that's why a joke like that pisses me off. It's not just offensive to me, but every single person that tries to make something of themselves.
I even told Paul that I didn't find it funny. That's the thing, I stick by what I say. I don't say a lot of it in the press, but I'm not a chump, either. I'm glad that out of that joke, came the positive thing of Dave invited me to the show, writing the sketch with him and his partner Neil, and we created this brilliant piece of comedy that folks still talk about eight, nine years later. I love that.
Whether it was back then or now, is it ever frustrating that people don't know your total package of talent and versatility?
It's frustrating every single day of my life, but that's something I've learned to let it roll off my back. In reality, no one is ever completely going to know everything that you do, especially if the things that you're doing mass media–wise is only one thing. You can't fault people, because it's human nature for folks to want to put you in a box.
Instead of getting frustrated by that, I use it to fuel me. That's why I think Twitter is cool, and some of the other social media platforms, because it gives you a chance. Even if it's educating one person at a time, you can't look at it as educating one person. Let's say they have 2,000 friends, those 2,000 friends also have friends, and it increases exponentially until you release something and a whole new audience is digging on you. I look at it as an opportunity.
You can read the complete interview HERE and below is the famous Chappelle show sketch.