Brad Williams Brings Comedy to Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Mad Apple’

Inside the redesigned Zumanity Theater at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, you’ll be transported to one of the craziest nights of your life in New York City, without having to deal with the TSA. “Mad Apple” is Cirque du Soleil’s first new show on the Strip in more than two years, and on May 26, comedian Brad Williams, a veteran of the Los Angeles comedy scene, takes center stage (gigantic ). As the lead comedian on this big-budget show, he has the same goal as when he’s in Los Angeles or New York: to make people laugh.

Congratulations on the show and the move to Vegas! It’s so different to live there than to visit it.

Brad Williams: Yeah, I’m really digging so far. There’s a lot to do and I love seeing all the little things in Vegas that you don’t see when you’re on the strip. I also saw some people in Vegas that I hadn’t seen in months, and we both live in LA. Everyone comes to Vegas to make it big, so it’s interesting to work here. While the people I want to see are in a vacation space, I take seltzer water. Honestly, I’ve been in Las Vegas for a few weeks and probably drank more than I should have.

It’ll fade soon now that you’re an honorary local. Vegas talks about “Mad Apple”, but we’d rather hear you talk about it.

“Mad Apple” is the craziest night you can have in New York. Street artists, musicians, singers, comedians, hip-hop stars, a Brazilian strongman and, by the way, the craziest acrobatics you’ve ever seen. This is the first Cirque show that has comedians, and we have several, some of whom do magic. One of the comedians is Chris Turner and his trick is to go out and get five suggestions from the audience. Then he does this freestyle rap, out of the dome, and it’s different every night because he incorporates the suggestions. People say the most random shit and he incorporates it good. It’s amazing and if you’re wondering what it looks like, it looks like you’d expect. A White from London.

Brad Williams onstage in ‘Mad Apple’ at the New York New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

(Matt Beard / Cirque du Soleil)

That’s a lot to process. Give me more.

“Mad Apple” is a bit like Circus for ADD. What would you like? Do you like acrobats? Cool. Here are some acrobats. Oh, you don’t like acrobats? OK, wait five minutes, singers and dancers are going to come out and do something amazing. Oh, don’t you like that? Well, first of all, you are wrong. Now here is a stand-up comic. Because it’s a Cirque show, people might think the comedy will be watered down, but anything goes. Simon [Painter, co-producer of “Mad Apple” and founder of the Works Entertainment] recruited me for the show and I was like, “OK, do I need a script or do you want me to do something?” He says, “You’re the expert at being funny. Just go be funny. That’s it.”

How did all this happen? And, follow-up, what happens after your three-month run?

The producers had been watching comic tapes and they kept telling me, “That guy! This is the atmosphere we want. This is the tone we want. My manager always describes my stand-up as “cuddly and adorable,” so while I’m saying horrible things on stage, do you still kinda like me? I guess that was fine with me, so the Cirque crew came to see me at a show in Phoenix and right after they were like, “You’re the guy. My contract is for three months but it’s not necessarily three months and I left. It’s three months and then we’re all going to watch and make sure everyone’s happy and I’m enjoying being there. So far, great! It’s nice to be somewhere where you know people really want you there. That’s how they make me feel. They are fantastic.

It sounds like a dream job. How do you feel about the Vegas Strip crowd?

I started with COVID stuff, and I didn’t know how it was going to be because I do usually know who is in the audience of a comedy show. I don’t knowing who is in the audience at a Cirque show, so that’s different. But for the moment, nothing to complain about! People seem to understand what we are trying to do and the party we are creating. In our atmosphere, performers and audience are all friends, and we’re in New York seeing some sh—. Like, oh my god, did you see that? This guy just juggled his brother! Plus, before the show even starts, our stage is a bar. You can go up and have a drink from two working bartenders, and there are magicians walking around. Then, when the show actually starts, a cover drops from the ceiling and goes above the bar. And that’s our stage, so we’re playing at the bar where you just ordered a drink. Our stage is a Transformer, and the show starts as soon as you walk through the door.

Your stand-up is quite energetic, but it’s Cirque. In my head, you can eat whatever you want, get some exercise, and burn through the show.

Yeah, well, I started doing yoga. The scene I’m used to is like 8 feet by 8 feet. It’s not that. It’s so huge that we have a taxi driving over it and an Empire State Building that turns into a “Wheel of Death”. I have a huge stage and I like to use it, so I have a few tracks where I run around. One of Cirque’s #1 selling points, considering I’m almost 40, is that they give you physical therapy. And the therapists are amazing. Whatever you have, they will fix it. I was like, free? Oh my God, yes! Sign me up! “Mad Apple” provides everything. I forget that I work for this multi-million dollar company. It’s so different from stand-up, where you’re pretty much on your own and you get what a club gives you. Stand-up comedy is a lonely way of life. There are a lot of lone planes and hotel rooms, so it’s fun to be part of a cast. And we support each other. There are so many ridiculously talented people on this show, and no one is pushing each other away. Everyone wants everyone to succeed and put on the most awesome show possible. It’s a fun experience, I love it.

“Crazy Apple”

Where: New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas

When: Hours vary.

Information: Tickets from $59. cirquedusoleil.com/mad-apple

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