Bruno Mars on the most nerve-racking moment of his Apollo special

Bruno Mars is having a fantastic year. He’s received six Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year, and has continued to play sold-out arenas throughout his “24K Magic World Tour.” Tonight, his 2017 gets even better: CBS premieres his first primetime television special, Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo.

The show kicks off with Mars performing atop the Apollo Theater’s marquee — which the star told us was no easy feat — but it will be more than just a concert. Mars also tours Harlem and connects with his fans in New York. Here, he offers Yahoo Entertainment a preview.

Yahoo Entertainment: Which historic Apollo performances most inspire you?
Bruno Mars: Aw man, I just remember growing up watching Showtime at the Apollo, you know, and the laws of that show. Before American Idol and before X Factor, there was Showtime at the Apollo. The laws of that show were that if you’ve got it, they’re going to cheer you on, and if you don’t they’re gonna boo you off. And that’s just something that I preach to my band, I preach to myself: Every time you get up on stage, your mentality is like you’re at the Apollo, and you better kill ’em or they’re gonna kill you.

In the special, you visit a few areas in Harlem. What inspired that idea?
I didn’t want it to just be a concert, you know, where I’m just singing all my songs, commercial, singing all my songs. Harlem is such a beautiful place, and the people that we got to interact with in the streets were incredible, and there were so many exciting things happening and we got it on camera. To be able to intertwine it with the performances — that was the whole thing. I just wanted to go to Harlem and pass out tickets and get everybody in the community at the show, so you get to see all that.

What was the most nerve-racking part of performing atop the Apollo marquee?
The most nerve-racking part was that it almost wasn’t gonna happen. You know being in New York, there’s so many fire codes and laws. When the idea came, it was very exciting for all of us because I’ve never seen that before, and I don’t know if they’ve ever allowed anyone to do that before. But it was almost not going to happen due to it just being too hard to be able to block the street off and get up on there and the safety issues and all that. It kind of became a nightmare and finally, in the final hour, it got approved, and we had a couple opportunities to do it on the marquee, so we got it on tape, and you’re about to see it.

Was that your idea to do that?
No, that was actually [executive producer] Ben Winston’s idea. Me, I don’t really think like that. I’m pretty, just put me on the stage and let me sing. So him wanting to do that was exciting.

Did you rub the lucky stump at the Apollo?
You have to. It would be in bad taste if you didn’t. So the answer is yes, I did.

Do you miss the Sandman?
I got to, what do you call it, press the button where the air horn comes on. The cameras weren’t on, but that thing starts ringing out, and I pretended I was the Sandman.

Where did you sign your name?
Underneath the stage, backstage somewhere.

Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo premieres Nov. 29 at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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