Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beyond Whose Line, Part 2: Cast Member Productions

                The most famous Improvisational comedy show of the last 20 years, the US Version of Whose Line is it Anyway? originally ran from 1998 to 2004 on ABC, with unreleased previously recorded episodes premiering on ABC Family from 2005 to 2007.  The show is enjoying a revival on the CW, with a fifth season on that network (hosted by Aisha Tyler) premiering on May 29, 2017.  In the previous installment, Drew Carey produced three shows (two television and one live show) with his improvisational friends.  Today, the cast member shows are covered, which usually involve two or three performers instead of a group of eight or nine, like with Drew Carey’s shows.
                In 2005, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood split off to form their own duo, An Evening with Colin and Brad.  Colin and Brad’s live show, unlike the television show, enables the performers to do longer bits, sometimes lasting 10 to 20 minutes long.  While some of the games are the same as whose line (like “Moving People”) there are some that are unique to the stage, such as a bit where Colin and Brad blindfold themselves to do a scene barefoot…with mousetraps all over the floor.  Colin and Brad’s different styles serve them well together, and they continue to tour to this day.  They continue to tour throughout the US and Canada in the spring, summer, and fall of 2017. 
                In 2008, Ryan Stiles reunited with his Whose Line co-star, Greg Proops to make the live show Proops and Stiles Unplanned, which was modeled after Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned, a popular improv talk show hosted by David Baddiel and Mike Skinner.  In Proops and Stiles’ show, the two sit on a couch and take a topic discussion from an audience member.  They also ask one particular audience member to come up on stage write down notes and suggestions on a whiteboard.  The show was performed at Montreal at the Comedy Festival in July 2008.
                Following the success of Stiles and Proops Unplanned, Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff Davis, along with Joel Murry, formed the live show Whose Live Anyway?, joined by Bob Derkach proving music, just like he did on Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza.  Chip Esten has also appeared on Whose Live as well.  The show features many of the same games as Whose Line, with one of the unique games being an audience giving details of their personal life, and then watching the performers act the details out on the stage.  The four current performers had several dates lined up to perform in May 2017. 
                In the summer of 2012, the summer before Whose Line is it Anyway? returned to television, many of the Whose Line performers were recruited to a show called Trust Us with Your Life, which was hosted by Fred Willard.  In this show, based on the UK show Fast and Loose, a celebrity has their personal life acted out by the improvisers, which included Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Jonathan Mangum, and rotating players Greg Proops, Craig Cackowski, Brad Sherwood, Nicole Parker, and Josie Lawrence.  The celebrity would give a detail about their life, and the improvisers would act them out in games.  Some of the games were similar to the games on Whose Line and Improv-A-Ganza, but with different names, and somewhere unique to the show: for example, in the game Shorter and Shorter, the performers must do a scene in 60 seconds, then in 30 seconds, and so on.  The show only aired six episodes over three weeks in July 2012 before it was pulled due to low ratings, as well as the controversy surrounding Willard’s arrest due to “lewd conduct.”  The celebrities covered in the aired were Serena Williams, Kelly and Jack Osborne, Mark Cuban, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Springer, and Florence Henderson.  The remaining two, while unaired on television, were available online and featured David Hasselhoff and Jane Seymour. 

                Whether doing a live show or a Whose Line spiritual successor, the improvisers continue to show their varied, wonderful talents.  Check out these live shows, or the short-lived television show to see these talented performers again.