Greg Proops on the Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live Show Spin-off

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How do you determine which jokes are best for stand-up, your podcast, or your recent publication, The Smartest Book in the World? Is the medium the message in comedy?
The medium dictates, and oh, what a cruel mistress she is. I choose only the sharpest satirical jokes for my stand-up act. The smaller, less-formed jokes go into the podcast, and the tiny, unformed fuzzy ones go into the book, where I hope they ripen and form
 their own humor.

What opportunities does the live version of Whose Line? offer that the TV version does not?
The improv in our live show is way more interactive. We bring people out of the crowd as hostages—I mean, volunteers. Plus we get every suggestion right then and there. So we never take the blame if the show is bad.

What was the most difficult audience suggestion you’ve enacted?
We did a scene in a skating rink a few weeks ago and I noticed we all skated backwards through the whole scene. Not so difficult you say, but we weren’t wearing skates.

What was your favorite audience suggestion to perform onstage?
Ryan [Stiles] and I were a young Dutch couple going out for the first time. It was sentimental, touching and wildly horny. Calamity ensued. Playing with Ryan is like being on a team with Babe Ruth—he just points at the fence and hits home runs. We have all played together so long we can bounce pass without looking like the Showtime Lakers.

Improv comedy is a lot like a sport. What mental exercises do you do to keep your wit razor sharp?
Vodka oriented ones, mostly. We just make fun of each other on the ride to the show and backstage. We also read books In between drinking and making fun of each other.

What are your techniques to keep from laughing at your fellow comics’ antics onstage?
None. We all find each other wildly amusing. I break more than Harvey Korman on the old Carol Burnett Show. Honestly, this year I have laughed at the guys more than ever. I think that is a miracle since we have worked together so long. It is imperative as a comedian to love comedy and these guys make me love watching them. The audience can feel that we dig each others’ acts and they, in turn, dig it. It’s a lot of digging.

May 29 at the Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills. On May 27 Proops reads from The Smartest Book in the World at Skylight Books, Los Feliz.

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