Live Review: Wayne Brady kicks off Busch Gardens Tampa's after-hours Red Carpet Series

Fritz got to pet a fluffy sloth, too damnit.

On Friday night, Busch Gardens played host to their first ever event on their new Red Carpet Series with a special performance by Emmy winning improv specialist and actor, Wayne Brady. Though rides and  animal habitats around the park were closed, the small section between the entrance and the Moroccan Palace amphitheater were alive with elegant festivities.

While the park usually gives off the ambiance of a thrill seeking safari, the front of the park was completely transformed into a black tie event (one might even say a “gala.”) Since there were so few guests, everyone in attendance got to park in preferred parking. This coupled with the long, red velvet carpet truly added to the overall regal atmosphere. A band named Actual Bank Robbers” played outside the theatre while people drank $10 cocktails and ate salmon. 

Festivities aside, Wayne Brady brought the house down with his impeccable improvisation skills and natural charm. If you were a fan of the late 90s to early 2000s show, Who’s Line Is It Anyways, you’ve likely seen a slice of Mr. Brady’s incredible range. Not only is Brady a three time Grammy winner for his improv and talk show hosting, but he also is a grammy nominated R&B artist. A pure showcase of his raw talent, Brady began the show by improvising an entire rap about cyber security while using SAT level words suggested by the audience only moments before. 

Brady appeared onstage alongside his sidekick and host, Jonathan Magnum. They performed a number of classic improv exercises including one-word-at-a-time stories and using various audience members as props. Though the entire show was improvised and seemed to flow with no script, the timing and delivery was far superior to many rehearsed sketch comedy shows I’ve seen in the past. 

Before the show, audience members could write either questions or suggestions of weird song titles on slips of paper that were separated into two separate box. To ensure the honesty in both the improv and Brady himself, Jonathan drew questions at random that Wayne would then answer with either insightful or comedic responses. In a separate segment, Brady would improvise song in various celebrity impersonations using the strange and often wildly inappropriate song titles suggested by the audience. 

Since the Moroccan Palace at Busch Gardens is typically home to an ice show, a cover was placed over the rink to allow for the comedy show to take place. Occasionally throughout the show, a few Busch Garden employees would venture onto the stage on hands and knees to wipe up the condensation building around the floor. Using what started as an awkward situation to make comedy, Brady and Magnum improved around the employees by using them as cows in their scene about camping. 

After Brady took his final bow, the audience flooded back outside to drink Red Carpet Specials and listen to more Actual Bank Robbers. All in all, it was an incredible performance coupled with an incredible event. I’m excited to see what is next for the Red Carpet Series. You can personally watch Brady’s continued genius on CW’s revival on Who’s Line Is It Anyways? which airs at 9 p.m., Wednesdays. 

Below is a picture of CL contributor (and summer intern survivor) Fritz posing with a sloth. Damn you, Fritz. Busch Gardens' Red Carpet Series continues on September 17 with Arturo Sandoval. More information is available on CL's events calendar.