‘The Masked Dancer’s Cricket on Why His Exit Is ‘Bittersweet’ But Not a ‘Loss’

Cricket Masked Dancer Group A Playoffs
Spoiler Alert
Michael Becker/ FOX

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 4 of The Masked Dancer, “Group A Playoffs – So You Think You Can Mask?”]

The Cricket’s jumping is over.

Before The Masked Dancer heads into the Super Six, another contestant is unmasked in the Group A Playoffs on January 20. While Tulip, Exotic Bird, and Hammerhead are continuing on, Cricket’s time on the show is over — and the celebrity under the mask is someone you might think would fit better over on The Masked Singer: singer and songwriter Brian McKnight.

Here, he opens up about his time on The Masked Dancer.

I liked that you stayed in character as the Cricket.

Brian McKnight: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. That’s the cool thing about being underneath that costume, since nobody knows who you are, you can almost do anything.

I thought since you have to stand up there for a long time, what can I do to remain on the minds of the folks who are watching and the panelists? I came up with that on the fly, thinking, what would a cricket do? A cricket wouldn’t just sit there on a log, he would jump around and do something. I really took my character to heart.

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'I remember thinking, 'No one is ever going to guess who I am short of a clue being given as 'kidnapped in 2002.''

Panelist Ken Jeong said they wanted you on The Masked Singer. So how did you doing and saying yes to Dancer come about?

I find it interesting he said that since I never get a call from anybody about being on The Masked Singer. It seemed to me that would have been the case. I’m sure there are a bunch of celebrities going, “How come I haven’t been called for this show?” This is the first call I got, and once I did, I said, “People know my voice. They’ve been hearing me sing for 30 years. It’s going to be tough for me to disguise this. But if I come out here dancing — which I don’t do and nobody would think I would ever do — it seems like the perfect place to be anonymous in this way.”

Did you have any say in the costume?

I had some different choices as to which character to play. It seemed like the Cricket spoke to me the most. It seemed the least cumbersome at the time. Once I got into it, it just seemed like the correct fit.

What was the process of coming up with the dance routines? Was there any collaboration?

No. I had some really great choreographers for both of those routines and when they saw the videos of my sort of audition, they knew what I would be able to do, and they didn’t give me anything that was too tough. They challenged me a little bit because I’m not a dancer, but I think they did a really good job at looking at my body and the way I move and what I’m capable of and getting the best out of me.

We learned both dances at the same time. On the show, it looks like you learn one dance this week and the next dance the next week — no, it’s all simultaneous. I’d think, “Wait, I can’t do that because that’s from the other dance,” so you really have to be on your toes mentally as much as physically.

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Paula Abdul did guess it was you. Did you expect anyone to figure it out?

I looked at my clues during rehearsal that day. I saw some things that were pretty obvious and if someone knew my career or were fans of mine, it was possible. When [Paula guessed me], I kind of expected that, but it was cool because it also said she’s a fan and she knows about my career. It was bittersweet. I didn’t want anybody to find out but at the same time you want people to know who you are as well.

Who knew you were doing this? Have you heard from anyone guessing it’s you?

No one. The only person that knew that’s me is my wife.

Cricket Masked Dancer Group A Playoffs Performance

(Michael Becker/ FOX)

How do you feel about your time on The Masked Dancer overall? What are you going to take away from it?

There’s probably lots of celebrities sitting at home, watching these shows, saying, “How come I haven’t gotten the call for any of these?” I don’t think it’s a loss leaving the show because it’s such a win for being able to be a part of it. I’m taking that with me: It was a lot of fun just to be a part of such a huge show.

Are you going to dance more after this?

Maybe not in public. [Laughs] We’ll see. I dance a little in my concerts, nothing like what I did on the show. But I definitely have more of an appreciation for dancers in general now.

The Masked Dancer, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox