By Philip Brown – The Star – November 23rd, 2011

      Schooled in the land of funny-smelling smoke and liberal politics known as San Francisco, where he developed a style of comedy that he claims “tried to baffle and delight the crowd as opposed to just going for mainstream laughs,” Greg Proops is not your standard punchline-machine club comic. “A friend of mine described my act as I tell a joke and then I spend the next 10 minutes telling the crowd why they should have gotten it,” quips Proops while chatting to the Star.

      Though famous from his time on the TV series Whose Line Is It Anyways, Proops specializes in generating delightfully intelligent and esoteric laughs that formed the basis for his semi-ironically titled podcast The Smartest Man in the World. Topics from the Roman Empire to Satchel Paige are the core of the act he’ll bring to Toronto this weekend for six live shows — standup, improv and podcasting — celebrating the third anniversary of The Comedy Bar.

      His years of experience ensure that Proops can get laughs from a crowd whenever he chooses, yet these days he’s more interested in exploring arcane and intellectual subject matter through the weekly improvised podcast that he will record live this Sunday. “It’s not for everyone and I think people respond to that. They like that it’s a bit more personal because I’m not like, ‘Hey ladies, who’s with me?’ and hope that everyone gets it. I don’t like to underestimate people’s intelligence or breadth of experience.”

      Proops crafts a fresh hour of material for the podcast every week. “When I get to Toronto, I’ll probably read the papers, go online, check out what’s going on and really talk about my experiences in Toronto and what’s happening in Canada. That goes a long way with Canadians because a lot of Americans never bother and say, ‘so you’ve got ducks on your money,’ ” claims Proops.

      “I don’t worry about how esoteric it gets because I think, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen because podcasts are free. There’s not an onus on me to think, ‘Oh they paid $17 or whatever, I’d better hit home runs every two seconds.’ ”

      Proops will also perform conventional stand up and improv sets with local comics over the weekend, which he enjoys, “because it keeps me in the game and one thing I never want to do is be stale or irrelevant.” However, while those performance avenues still work, podcasting has opened up a new audience for the comedian as it has for many performers and appears to be the way of the future.

      “TV’s always there and the radio’s always there but this new method of delivering comedy is way more intimate, personal, and relevant,” says Proops. “You can listen to it on your phone, at work, or in your car. It’s not a matter of sitting down and making an appointment with your TV anymore. The comedy landscape is changing.”

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