The Ride of a Lifetime - Backstage.com, 9/2/05
You probably know Wayne Brady from his improvisational songs and sketches on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, or his Emmy-winning work on The Wayne Brady Show, or maybe even his hilariously foulmouthed, jaw-dropping guest appearance on Chappelle's Show. But you may not know that the multitalented performer has also played a Ghostbuster, a doo-wopper, and Cab Calloway. That's because all of these roles took place on an unlikely stage: a theme park. Before hitting it big, Brady worked at such parks as Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and Six Flags in St. Louis, Mo., finally ending up at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he worked until 1999.
"I've been in the business for about 17 years, and I've never waited tables a day in my life, and I've never been unemployed. And I have theme parks to thank for that," he says.
Brady isn't the only big name who got his start entertaining thrill-seeking tourists: Soap star Jack Wagner did a stint as a Universal Studios Hollywood tour guide, and Steve Martin worked at the Bird Cage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm and the magic shop at Disneyland. It was at these parks that Martin developed some of his initial talents. "That's when he started juggling, that's when he started playing the banjo, and he did a lot of his magic stuff, which kind of became the cornerstone of his standup," says actor David Cooper, whose first professional performing gig was at Six Flags New England. "He's someone that I learned a lot about when I was [working at theme parks]."