Even without the black tape plastered over his mouth and cheeks, Tape Face would rather not speak.
The “America’s Got Talent” fan favorite (aka New Zealand native Brad Wills) is a stand-up mime who prefers to let his wide, black-rimmed eyes, spiky hair and expressive gestures do the talking in silly shows that thrive somewhere between awkward silence and unexpectedly gleeful physical comedy.
Having played the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord in 2017, he’s headed back to the venue for a 7 p.m. show Friday, March 17.
NHWeekend reached out to the comic mime via email with a handful of questions. Here’s what Tape Face had to “say”:
It’s been a couple of years since we last “spoke,” so I’d like to catch up on what’s been happening. Can you tell me about the Vegas residency and where you’re touring?
The Vegas residency is going great! We have really evolved the show to have a fun-house feel to it. The audiences are wonderful, and it’s nice to have a “home” for the show. We are back out on tour and heading back over to the East Coast, but we are always making plans to bring the show to the rest of the country. I always look forward to the touring as the shows have a much bigger rock ‘n’ roll feeling to them.
Your performances have a way of making grown adults used to looking at the world critically suddenly let go and join in the silliness. During your stint on “AGT,” there was this palpable shift where a sort of confused audience gets over that awkward silence and starts giggling. What’s that like?
It’s one of the reasons I love this as my job. The satisfaction of winning over an audience is always delightful. Everyone has played as a child, and I am one a one-mime mission to remind people to keep playing and using their imagination.
Are you ever uncomfortable if an audience is slow to get on board with a joke or gag?
I have had a couple of times where I go into a situation with an idea that I think is really funny, and then it has ended up making my sound technician laugh the loudest, as it’s only him laughing, and it’s very much at my fail. I don’t mind the idea or feeling of trying an idea out that doesn’t work as it’s essentially just crossing things off a list that don’t work, so it opens up more room for ideas to actually work!
Now that so many people are familiar with your work, has the audience dynamic changed? Are they in on the joke from the get-go?
Yes indeed. People now very much know what to expect when they are coming to my shows. They know that there will be audience participation, but they are coming knowing that it’s all being done in a fun safe way, which helps.
I’ve seen interviews you’ve done the old-fashioned way — a honest-to-goodness chat — and you’re engaging and full of smiles, which comes as a surprise because, first, we had no idea you had dimples or a lip ring, and second, that a New Zealand accent was under there. Generally, when do you talk and when do you cover up with that black face strip?
It all depends on the situation and context. Sometimes I will even write replies to interviews in the style of my character, which can be a lot of fun. I like to occasionally pop up as myself to remind people that there is an actual person behind the tape overthinking all of this nonsense.
I’m thinking of the genius of singer Sia, who because of her face-obscuring stage wigs can go anywhere in her private life and generally not be recognizable to her fans. When you go out without your trademark tape and black eye makeup, are you incognito? Do you still get recognized?
I tend to have the makeup on most of the time as that is actually my personality that I have put into the character. I am genuinely a goth from the ‘90s that didn’t grow up. When people do spot me I am always more than accommodating to take a photo or chat with them, as I also feel when you put yourself out into the public on a show like “AGT” then you then have a responsibility to engage with the people who got you the success.
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Tape Face returns to the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, for a 7 p.m. show Friday, March 15. Tickets are $25 and $35. To reach the box office, call 225-1111 or visit ccanh.com.