By Marisa Milanese – Mercury News – September 3rd, 2000

      You only have to look at Robin Williams or Whoopi Goldberg to surmise that a sense of humor and a sense of fashion don’t go hand- in-hand. But Greg Proops will make you rethink your conclusions. The 41-year-old native of San Carlos and graduate of San Mateo Community College and San Francisco State Univerity is a stand-up comedian, a regular improviser on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC), and one of the squad members for the ruthless Fashion Police column in US Magazine. He might also be singlehandedly responsible for reviving the three-piece suit. Proops brings his rapid-fire comedy routine to Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco Sept. 7-10. (415) 928-4320.

QUESTION: What was it like to grow up in San Carlos?

ANSWER: It was a white suburb. I couldn’t wait to leave.

What do you tap into for your stand-up material?

      The hatred and pain that is America. The gun-toting psychopath mentality that prevails. When George W. Bush is a speaker for the NAACP, which he was recently, you realize that there’s no irony left in this world.

How would you describe your stand-up routine?

      Poison, invective and sarcasm.

I’d add energy. How do you get so amped?

      Coffee and cigarettes, generally. Or I’ll listen to records of the guys who rock the world: Bill Hicks, Lord Buckley, Richard Pryor. I wouldn’t put myself in their category, but I also think comedy can be really immediate and cogent. I’m no my-wife-is-fat-and-my-truck-broke-down kind of comedian.

You don’t really work the crowd when you’re on stage. Why not?

      No, I don’t do the whole “Where are you from?” thing. I’m not there to be your friend, I’m there to be funny. There’s a big difference.

On your Web site, you spell favorite ‘favourite’. Are you an Anglophile?

      With reservations. I do love the English. I lived in England between 1989 and 1994. But they can drive me up a wall. They’re not the friendliest group in the world. They can be classist. They can also be really reserved and then get drunk and shag everyone. But they�re a great comedy crowd. They�re on my wave length because they have a nasty, sarcastic sense of humor. Americans get a little huffy when you make fun of them.

What’s it like when the room is packed but you can hear a pin drop?

      Once upon a time, I would have been mortified. But I’m perverse. I figure at that point, I’m really doing something. If the people are back on their heels, then I know I’m doing the right thing.

Excerpt from “Speccy Dude” by Greg Proops:

I wear glasses. That’s how you’ll know me. I am the speccy one… And I am proud.

Contact lenses are for vain, weak-willed piglets who swan around showing off: “Look everybody, I can see without spectacles. No one at first glance will ever assume I know how to surf the net.”

Glasses are for the brave. I do not need to pretend that I am sighted. People who need glasses and don’t wear them are slightly less treacherous than people who don’t need them and do like every shallow Hollywood star who wants to be taken seriously.

Maxim magazine

Is that the Andy Kaufman school of comedy?

      No, I’m not as courageous. I don’t go up there to alienate people or do an art project. But it can also get too easy to preach to the converted to go to San Francisco and say, “Everyone should be nice to everyone.” Try going to Orange County and telling them that their views are wrong. I’ve done that.

Who makes you laugh?

      George Carlin, Paula Poundstone, Chris Rock. There are a lot of Bay Area guys. Greg Barron, Patton Oswald. My wife, too.

Does she think you’re funny?

      I hope so. She’s funnier than me.

But you’re the one getting paid.

      That’s right. People are always like, “There’s just the funniest guy at my work,” and I’m like, I’m sure he is. But that’s different from being able to be a comic. The funny people in your life are funnier than anyone you’ll pay to see.

Would you ever move back here from LA?

      We think about it all the time. I love the Bay Area. But I think the 1980s, when I lived there, was a better time to be there. The dot-com thing just isn’t that exciting to me. San Francisco is supposed to be a place for poets and drunks and miscreants, not a place for 20-somethings just out to make money. It’s a literate town, and it’s about being in the mix. I don’t see the dot-com scene as very literate.

Some would say unfashionable, too. Do you have any advice for them?

      Dress your age. It can’t be emphasized enough. Don’t wear white pants unless you’re selling ice cream. And no dreadlocks on white guys. That’s a horrible look.

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