If Wayne Brady had been putting on a competition TV series for teenagers who could sing, he would have been able to go to vocal classes to find participants. The same goes for dancers, gymnasts or cooks.
But, the name of his series for the streaming service BYUtv is “Wayne Brady’s Comedy IQ.” After a season of young comedians dealing with challenges based on comedy skills from sketch writing to improve, the finale is slated to be broadcast at 5 p.m. June 15.
Finding participants was the easiest part of putting the series together.
“There were people all over the world that love comedy and feel that it’s in them. They are good at it but they also want to learn it,” Brady says. “Because we were doing this with teens and it was a very specific type of thing, I didn’t really want to find people that were already established as comedic performers.
“The whole purpose of this show is that it was an experiment. If I had been looking for adults then I would have done like ‘Last Comic Standing’ and I would have held auditions.”
That route would have given Brady a contestant pool of those who had reached an age where they were at least trying to make a living with comedy. Brady’s main intention with “Comedy IQ” was to find young people who had taken a similar journey as he had going from acting in school productions and regional theater before falling into improvisational comedy.
Brady was looking for young people who could sing or dance or act. He would then teach them how to handle the various aspects of comedy. Six finalists got the opportunity to work with Brady and guest mentors such as Jonathan Mangum (“Whose Line is it Anyway,” “Let’s Make A Deal”), Epic Lloyd (YouTube star from “Epic Rap Battles of History”) and Sinbad.
The young comedians were in a boot camp for seven of the 10 episodes of the show, giving them a real chance to walk away with valuable showbiz lessons.
Only three got to battle for top honors in the finale. The winner gets a prize package that includes: a special guest appearance on BYUtv’s “Studio C”; the opportunity to perform with Brady on one of his tour dates; various recording equipment; and $10,000 to help get their career going.
Brady talks in vague terms when speaking about the finalists as his views changed from the first day.
“Maybe there was one person that stuck out in my head and I thought this guy really could win it. But, then after a couple of weeks of seeing what everybody could do, it became this little horse race where one week it was ‘Yes, this is going to be it’ and then the next week ‘Oh no, it’s going to be her,’” Brady says. “It was a constantly evolving list.
“So was I surprised when they reached the finale – no. But I would not have been shocked if it had been other people in the finale as well.”
The most difficult of putting the production together was having to pick the eventual winner. If Brady had been allowed, he would have given all three of the finalists a prize. Only one walks away the winner but Brady expects many of the participants to find careers in the comedy world.
The fact Brady had time to talk about the show is a bit of a minor miracle. There are few performers who are as busy as the Georgia native ranging from putting this series for BYUtv together to hosting “Let’s Make a Deal.” He also is a regular on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Brady also performed in the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots” and as James Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother.”
He found time for this competition show because it touches him so personally. There’s been no decision announced if there will be a second season but “Wayne Brady’s Comedy IQ” is a perfect match for BYUtv as its target audience is tweens/teenagers between the ages of 8 to 15 and their parents.
BYUtv is available in more than 50 million homes in every state of the country on DISH Network, DirecTV and 146 other major cable systems. If you don’t have cable and want to watch the finale, BYUtv streams for free. All you have to do is download the app or go to www.byutv.org. There are no subscriptions, no in-app purchases and no ads. The network is always streaming live, and past and current seasons are all available to binge.