Post Mortems

The Masked Singer Winner on His Finale 'Ta-da!' Moment and Why One Judge in Particular Should've Known It Was Him

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of The Masked Singer.

Will the Rentheads in the audience please raise your hands? Cool. (And the rest of you, please give us a moment.)

You know how there’s that scene in the musical, at the Life Café right before the end of Act I, where Tom Collins and Maureen chant about revolution and such? The winner of The Masked Singer Season 2 spent plenty of time going over those lyrics with none other than the reality series’ judge Nicole Scherzinger when they both starred in a 2010 Hollywood Bowl production of the Broadway show.

And yet, the singing competition’s top dog — er, Fox — says he never worried about whether Scherzinger would recognize his voice underneath his Masked Singer character’s monocle and fur.

“Worried? No. Hoped? Yes!” says Wayne Brady, who beat Flamingo and Rottweiler in the season finale and was crowned Season 2 champion Wednesday. (Read a full recap here.) “Call it ego. Especially during stuff like [Rent‘s] ‘La Vie Boheme,’ the two of us went over that bit that Maureen and Collins had over and over again, because it’s such a wordy piece. So we listened to each other sing a lot.” He laughs. “But the fact that she was one of the last people to pick up [on my identity], I was like, ‘Ah, this is beautiful.’ Because the story’s just gonna be so much sweeter.”

TVLine chatted with the Let’s Make a Deal host — whose extensive TV resume includes Whose Line Is It Anyway?, How I Met Your Mother, The Bold and the Beautiful and an upcoming stint on Black Lightning — about waking up everyone who slept on his musical talents (dude’s got a Grammy nomination under his belt!), freestyling that “Otis”-esque rap at the end of the episode and using Fox’s singing competition as the perfect springboard to re-launch his music career.

TVLINECongratulations on your win!
I am on such a high and it’s cool that the moment is finally here and I can say, “Yes, y’all were right.” Or, I can say “Ha ha, y’all were wrong.”

TVLINE | Do you get to take the Golden Mask home, or is that something you get to hold for a few minutes and then they take it back?
That one you get to hold for a few minutes. Once everything is finished, it’s kind of like an Emmy or a Grammy: You get to hold it and take pictures, and you get it in the mail later on. So I think I’ll get it in the mail. Which makes sense: If I were to take it home [then], and somebody came over to my house and saw it on the mantle, that would be awkward.

TVLINE | You mentioned several times during the season how the general public wasn’t aware of your singing abilities. That was surprising to me — I’m a fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and I know you’ve done Broadway — but it seems like that’s a common thing that you get? Like, “You’re the funny guy, not the guy who can belt “I’ll Cover You”?
Yeah — and thank you for knowing that I did Rent.. I look at myself like the story about the blind men and the elephant. Depending on which piece of the elephant they were touching, they each had a completely different idea of what it was. And I realized that in a culture where it’s easy to just put people in a box, where you go, “Oh yeah, I’m a fan of Let’s Make a Deal and that’s what I watch, so I know that’s what he does.” Or “I like you on Whose Line and I know that’s what you do.” Or “I liked How I Met Your Mother or “I like this other thing.” It’s cool I’ve done so many things that people have a favorite. But then they’re not looking at the guy in totality, because we don’t exist in that golden age of showbiz, where everyone that was on TV could sing and dance, so it was a given. So that’s where the disconnect comes in. I did this show as a way of bringing all of those different reins together and go, “Oh, OK!” People like yourself, you said that you watched Whose Line: If you are a real fan, then you know that in everything that I do, it is music-based. Because that is my first love. The comedy, the Broadway thing — it’s always been what I’ve done before TV. I made my living in cover bands and doing regional theater all over the U.S. So this is a really cool way and amazing platform to really have that “ta-da!” moment to people who don’t put the whole thing together.

TVLINE | The rap breakdown in “Try a Little Tenderness” in the finale obviously evoked the “Otis”-ness of the whole thing: Whose idea was that?
That’s me. It’s this full-circle thing. The very first musical revue show that I did in ’96, right before I moved to Los Angeles, that’s where I met my ex-wife Mandie [Taketa], who is my best friend in the world and my business partner and the mom of my daughter. She was in my corner this entire time to help me make all the creative decisions. So I did it as as tribute to her and as a tribute to where I started from. And that song was flipped into “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye [West], so I figured it was one of the dopest songs to perform. I loved the hip-hop nature of it, I loved the soul nature of it, and it let me do everything I needed to do.

TVLINE | And then you came back at the end with a freestyle! I assume that was all done right there, on the spot?
Oh, absolutely. That was all off the top.

TVLINE | You have an album coming out soon.
The name of the single that’s coming out tonight is called “Flirtin’ With Forever.” It’s a love song to music. I’ve flirted with music my entire career, and my life, and I’ve gone back and forth like, “Are we gonna do this thing or not?” I’ve been on a lot of dates with her, to Broadway and using it on daytime TV. I even got nominated for a Grammy but stepped away… But now, I am fully committed to her. So I am going to be making up for lost time. So that’s why it’s called “Flirtin’ With Forever.” The name of the EP that comes out at the end of January/beginning of February is called Been Here. Because that’s the case: I’ve been here, doing what I do, and it’s the answer to the first record, which was called A Long Time Coming. This is, “I’m still here.”