By Dan Pearson – Mundelein Review – November 10th, 2010

      Ocelot ownership might be on the agenda when Greg Proops entertains lucky audiences on Nov. 13 at Zanies Comedy Nightclub in Vernon Hills.

      Proops often finds himself deluged with inquiries of whether or not an ocelot truly resides at the Proops hacienda in Southern California since mentioning in 1989 his domestic relationship with a sleek nocturnal feline of the South American rain forest on the British version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

      For the record, it does not.

      “Somehow that became a thing and now I can’t get away from it,” said Proops in a recent phone interview. “I’m glad I picked an ocelot and not something even more obscure like a margay or a pademelon or a civet. There are plenty of weird animals out there.”

      Rather than discuss where one might shop for imaginary ocelot kibble, Proops, an Arizona native who was raised in San Francisco, is currently basking in his favorite team’s World Series victory.

      “I’m completely elated but I wasn’t as hysterical as I thought I would be. I almost burst into tears. I’ve been a fan since 1967, since I was a little kid.”

      This is just about the same period in time that Proops began to write his first jokes.

      Proops is also elated about the launch of his first podcast, “The Smartest Man In The World,” on iTunes.

      “I go on other websites to answer their frequently asked questions, because I feel my answers are more pertinent than theirs are.”

      Proops has won academic tests of knowledge on “Win Ben Stein’s Money” and “Rock n’ Roll Jeopardy.” He also served as a guest expert on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” this year, has 30 years experience as a professional stand-up comic and has four CDs available including his latest, “Proops Digs In.”

      He gained his greatest national exposure with the U.S. version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” which was hosted by Drew Carey and ran from 1998 to 2006.

      “It was something we did on a whim and never thought the show would last.”

      Last year Proops served as the TV host for “Head Games,” a science quiz show that was not renewed.

      “It was the Discovery Channel’s foray into quiz shows and just didn’t work out for them because it wasn’t about sharks.”

      In addition to stand-up, Proops has built a successful career as a voice actor in “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” two “Star Wars” projects and the title voice for “Bob The Builder.”

      Proops, who will appear at Zanies in Chicago Nov. 11 and 12, is currently hosting the weekly “Odd News” on Yahoo. He said he bounces almost all his new material off his wife before trying it out on stage.

      “The problem with my wife is that she’s smarter than 95 percent of the crowd so she’ll say, in a derisive manner, ‘Oh that’s great, open with it.’ And I will go, ‘You don’t get it because you’re too smart. Trust me the crowd will get it.’ I use her as a reverse barometer at times.”

      In his stand-up, Proops said he will address subjects that are both topical and political as well as generously referencing pop culture and history.

      “I try to put a little truth in my history, which I think is the difference. They say Ronald Reagan was a really popular president. He was re-elected by 35 percent of the electorate. The lowest voter turnout ever and they called it a landslide.

      “The truth is what you want it to be, but I do like facts. As far as comedy changing anything, Peter Cook, the brilliant English comic, said it best. When asked if comedy could change politics he said, ‘Yeah, look at all the work the Weimar cabaret did in stopping Hitler.'”

      Proops said the key to creating classic comedy is to be yourself.

      “The more you are actually expressing how you feel, the funnier you are. At 21, I had to go a million miles an hour because I was afraid of any kind or error or pauses, letting the audience see through the holes,” he said. “Now I think I am more myself. I’m a little less manic. I still probably go a million miles a hour, but I think I’m a little more confident with the direction of how it’s going to go.

      “Stand-up is the one time I feel comfortable. If I’m talking to agents and going to a pitch meeting I get a little intimidated, but when I have the microphone in my hand, no one can touch me. There’s a warm glow on the stand-up stage, so I want to go there.”

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