By Merv Collins – The Pun – Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

      51-year-old Greg Proops from San Francisco doesn’t do the annual international comedy circuit and hasn’t been to Melbourne for 14 years. He doesn’t need to: he’s a TV regular, having had a successful career in both the U.S. and U.K. versions of Whose Line is it Anyway? and now having a role in a U.S. sitcom amongst other work.

      This experience and expertise is on display in his stand-up routine at the Athenaeum. His manner is brisk and the words tumble out in a waterfall of clever verbosity: I never expected to hear “ingenuous”, “mendacious” and “joie de vivre” in quick succession at the Comedy Festival!

      He had some well-researched local gags – played off Gosford and Perth against “latte-drinking, book-reading, outside-sitting, cigarette-smoking Melbourne”. They’re not his exact words, but that’s the manner of his rapid, sure-footed delivery.

      He’s caustic, even bitter, and at his best when skewering the pompous, inflated and over-rated. Oprah and her “moronic” friend cop a serve, he apologises for Dr Phil (while doing an excellent impersonation), and destroys country and western music with perfect “did done me wrong” patois.

      He showed his improvisational skills portraying neanderthal man discovering a dubious use for his opposable thumbs, doing funny Aussie, French and Italian accents and riffing to the stage manager suddenly spotted in the wings.

      His “Paul McCartney and the one-legged girl routine” were mercilessly funny and drew little gasps of horror which Proops enjoyed as he ploughed remorselessly on.

      Maybe some of the American political lines didn’t quite fire and perhaps we’d heard the koala “bear” stuff before – Proops made a note, literally, of lines that missed the target – but the pace was relentless, the mannerisms exquisite, the delivery ever-fluent and the content largely relevant and cutting.

      If you want to see – and laugh at – a consummate comedy professional at work, go and see Greg Proops.

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