Over the years, Groban has punctured his reputation as an adult-contemporary music goody-goody with hints of a wicked sense of humor, like when on Jimmy Kimmel he sang, with impressively fake sincerity, a mashup of Donald Trump’s tweets. Then there’s his own hilarious, unfiltered Twitter feed. A recent quip: “Some of the restaurant names in Times Square have me salivating on the way to work. ‘OK Deli’? ‘Port Authority Food Court’? Who can resist!” Having conquered comedy, Groban is now trying his hand as a romantic leading man in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, a musical based on War and Peace, opening on Broadway Nov. 14. What better time to ask the nicest guy on the Billboard charts our burning questions?
What five people would you invite to a dream dinner party?
Stephen Sondheim, John Oliver, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Miley Cyrus
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t take any opportunity for granted, no matter how solidifying it may seem. And be nice to people no matter where you are in the peaks and valleys of a career.
Who’s your all-time favorite singer?
Freddie Mercury, because of his raw animal talent but also his interest in classical music. He bent every rule and wasn’t a perfect voice technically, but he was uniquely him.
Do you prefer recording or performing live?
In the studio, you can have bursts of inspiration or days of hair-pulling. The real reward is getting the songs out where they belong, in front of an audience. I’ll never get tired of that feeling, that energy between your singing and a crowd. It’s when I’m happiest.
What’s the best thing about living in Manhattan versus California?
» I like to walk. I love that everyone shares space so much of the day. I think that’s healthy for our souls. «
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I was signed at 17, so I’ve only ever had one job.
What’s the best job you’ve ever had?
Playing Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. It’s a dream to be on Broadway, and it’s a beautiful show, one that challenges and inspires me daily.
What’s your TV guilty pleasure?
I’m a cable news junkie—nothing feels more guilty these days.
What’s the next thing on your bucket list?
I’ve been working on getting my pilot’s license.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
That video of [German artist] Ulay surprising [his former lover and performance artist] Marina Abramović at her The Artist Is Present exhibit. I wanted to show some friends. It gets me every time. Before that, the last thing I had Googled was “nearest Shake Shack.”
Do you prefer autographs or selfies with fans?
Selfies! They’re more fun and won’t end up on eBay.