Note: Adele's concert has been canceled due to illness.
In person, Adele Adkins is a zany, outgoing redhead with the wit and comedic timing of a young Lucille Ball.
The brassy Brit — who performs as simply Adele — already made her stateside TV debut on “Ugly Betty,” a role she thoroughly enjoyed.
“But I sounded like Dick Van Dyke doing it — even though I’m English, I was putting on this fake English accent,” she says. “So it’s not something I want to pursue, acting. I just want to be a singer, and I don’t think you can be good at lots of things. You can be good at one thing, and mediocre at all the others.”
The plan is working. Adele’s new sophomore set, “21,” is the biggest-selling album of the year. In the No. 1 spot on the charts for nine weeks in the U.S., it has sold more than 1.7 million copies.
Overseas, its chart-topping reign was so magnetic, it drew her 2008 debut, “19,” back up to rest alongside “21” at No. 2.
At only 23, Adele — who plays the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Saturday — truly rules the pop-R&B roost.
“So I don’t want people to be distracted by other things that I do,” she says.
Humor may be key to the Grammy winner’s success. But so is humility. She knew she hit paydirt with “19” and its breakup-themed ballads such as “Chasing Pavements.”
But she was also willing to admit the truth.
“I’m quite limited and quite set in my boundaries as a musician,” was her sober assessment. “I can only play four or five chords, so I would’ve ended up writing ‘19.2’ if I’d written this new record on my own. So I made a conscious decision early on that I wanted to work with more people this time.”
Adele co-penned “21’s” first gospel-stomping single, “Rolling in the Deep,” with Paul Epworth. For the rest of the record, she recruited co-writers such as One Republic’s Ryan Tedder and ex-Semisonic songsmith Dan Wilson.
“Dan had me on my hands and knees, crying my eyes out — there’s just something about him that made me completely open up as a composer,” she says. “And it’s unbelievable how professional Ryan is, and it’s totally rubbed off on me.”
Adele might be sitcom-ready. But her concerts play more like telenovellas.
“Even at the end of touring my last record,” she says, “I’d think, ‘this is so embarrassing that I’m still singing about this guy who broke my heart two and a half years ago, and he’s had, like, 14 women since me!’ So now I have to go sing this record, and it’s like breaking up again, every night.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Greek Theatre, Gayley Road and Hearst Avenue, Berkeley
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $45 to $65
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com