Terry Bradshaw learned how to scramble early in life. He likes to keep it loose. And if he breaks into song, the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and part-time country singer knows he can get some laughs.
Winner of four Super Bowls, Bradshaw is better known these days as a TV analyst and motivational speaker. As adept with one-liners as handoffs, he has appeared on “The Tonight Show” more than 50 times.
But the sports legend yearns to do something totally different – sing and (sort of) dance on stage. That prompted Bradshaw to put together a Las Vegas-style, one-man show titled “Terry Bradshaw: America’s Favorite Dumb Blond … A Life in Four Quarters,” which arrives at Lake Tahoe’s MontBleu Resort on Friday.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do it is that I don’t know anybody else in my field that’s doing something like this,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I always liked doing things that other people can’t do. Maybe they could do it, but they don’t pursue it. I pursue it.”
Squeezed between his NFL duties for Fox Sports, the 90-minute stage show is a warmup for a planned national tour next year. Bradshaw has performed the show only twice so far; both appearances were in June at the Mirage in Las Vegas.
“America’s Favorite Dumb Blond,” as Bradshaw jokingly refers to himself, has had to refresh his memory for his upcoming show. As always, he’s appropriated “dumb” jokes previously aimed at him throughout his life and used them to his advantage.
“I had to take and make it fun because you can’t defend it,” he said. “Because of the pain and the meanness from it, I took it and used it. I’ve played with it ever since – good for me. Where do people come up with the idea that you’re not smart? I never quite understood that.”
Despite impressions to the contrary, Bradshaw, 65, always was a smart quarterback and quick TV analyst. “Did I tell you I called my own plays?” he added. “Because I like to tell everybody that the most money I ever made (in the NFL) was $300,000 and these guys today are making millions and they don’t call their own plays.”
His “Life in Four Quarters” bounces from his childhood in Louisiana and college career at Louisiana Tech to 14 NFL seasons and post-football TV, movies and music. It’s been a full life, getting busier with this new challenge, as Bradshaw explained to The Bee.
Tell us about the show.
“It’s a story about my life (set) to music. There you go. That’s pretty much what it is. Singing and a little bit of dancing. Great backup singers (called the “I-Qties”). A really cool band. My daughter (Rachel) performs a song that she wrote for me for Father’s Day and then I sing a song with her. All (eight) songs are original songs based upon my life, with the exception of one song that I did with Glen Campbell. But for the most part, it’s high-energy, a lot of fun, and really it’s just an entertaining show. If I get through it and don’t screw some of the stuff up.”
Will it include some standup comedy?
“It’s a structured show. It’s structured in the sense that the songs are all set up by the stories. It’s not a bunch of one-liners and stuff like that. Just self-deprecating fun stuff. You will see a lot of that in the show. Even the songs themselves, some of them are funny. Listen, my singing’s pretty funny. (Even) if I don’t tell one joke, you’ll laugh. If you don’t laugh, I’ll know it, and you’ll see me break out into some serious sweat. Listen, I know when I’m bombing because I’ve done it enough.
“It takes a lot of stuff to get up and do this. It’s not easy – you kidding me? Everybody thinks I’m nuts. (Former NFL coach and current TV analyst) Jimmy Johnson thinks I’ve lost my mind. He said, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. It’s fun. It’s a challenge. Television’s easy. This is fun.’
“The worst part of the show is having my friends come. I don’t want any of them to show up. It’d make me nervous.”
Jimmy Johnson has a point. What inspired you to do this show?
“This was something I had always wanted to do before my life came to an end. I have always wanted to do Vegas. A friend of mine, who is the head joke writer for Jay Leno (John Macks), and I are real good friends. As a matter of fact, we write jokes together like people write songs. I don’t like to do jokes because I have a hard time remembering them. I’m better off telling stories.
“So we hired this guy named David Goldsmith in New York. He flew out, and we met and we started telling my story. He flew back to New York and wrote 148 pages of dialogue and songs. Well, I’ve got ADD. You know how long it takes me to learn 148 pages? Try never. So we kept rewriting, and we finally, after three years, had cut this thing down to 42 pages with me telling stories and taking the dialogue out, other than direction for the show, and then it became easier for me.
“I don’t like to be scripted. I hate being penciled in – you’ve got to say this, you’ve got to say that – I don’t like that. I played football loose, and I like to talk loose. I like to let things flow. My jokes come naturally, my stories evolved over time – everything happens on stage for me.
“When I made the commitment (to do the show), I had about eight months to learn the material. Most stressful time in my life. You have no idea how hard this was for me. But primarily, it was just the fact that I wanted to do Vegas. I love entertaining people. I just love making people feel good. That’s the reason why I’m doing it. I’m 65 years old and I’m starting over, and to me, that’s kind of cool.”
What’s your favorite moment in the show?
“When it’s over. Actually, the most electrifying part is the start. Then after I get through the first number, I really get jacked up, and I’ve got so much material, and I’ve got to have a clock in my head, and that’s kind of fun. There’s not a whole lot in the show that I don’t enjoy.”
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.