By ??? – WhoserCon – 2000

      Many thanks to Greg for volunteering to do this webchat exclusively for con-goers, and to Nessa #2 for her excellent work transcribing his over-the-phone answers into the chat room for all to read!
The name of the Whoser asking each question is listed with their query.

      And now, the chat:

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* Whosers applaud

Whosers: Hello Greg, and thank you for chatting with us today!

GregProops: Sorry I’m late you guys, I was working last night and busy eating a bowl of oatmeal.

GregProops: My pleasure.

Whosers: That’s ok. Only scattered heart attacks.

GregProops: LOL

GregProops: I didn’t mean to get anyone too excited.

Whosers: Too late.

GregProops: LOL

Whosers: Ready to begin?

GregProops: GO.

Whosers: Joe: When did you realize you had “made it” in comedy?

GregProops: I really never think that I’ve made in comedy.

Whosers: I know a roomful of people who disagree

GregProops: But I’ve had a couple of good moments that made me think I was doing the right thing, occasionally.

GregProops: Playing the Edinburgh Festival makes me feel very wanted.

GregProops: I did a gala in Melbourne a couple years ago so that made me feel I did the right thing.

GregProops: Playing in my beloved San Francisco always warms my heart.

GregProops: And basically, for me, when someone comes up and says they like my work, that means to me that it means more about making it.

* Whosers awwww

GregProops: You know, the guys who followed me in anyway know that television is my day job and I do comedy cause I really love it and the thing about comedy to me that is most valuable is making a connection with other people.

GregProops: So when someone comes up and says they like my work, that, to me, feels like I’m making it.

Whosers: well, we promise to keep doing that.

Whosers: Katherine B: How did you get started in Improv?

GregProops: I went to San Francisco State in the late 1940’s…

GregProops: …and Japan had just surrendered.

GregProops: I was living at the dormitory at Verducce Hall that is no longer there…

GregProops: …and there was a group that played in the cantina at the other dormitory, they were called Faultline. They had an audience spot they would do as part of the show.

GregProops: And I said, “Hey, I can do this.”

GregProops: The next week I went and when they asked for volunteers from the audience, I made sure I jumped up.

GregProops: I did a sketch with my buddy Reed, who wasn’t my buddy yet cause I hadn’t met him.

GregProops: The next day he asked me to join his group. That’s how it started, that was 1979. I learned improvisation from Reed and all of the kids in the group. And I say kids ’cause we were all kids, in our early 20’s.

GregProops: I never took a class like Second City or anything like that. And that was the long, boring story of how it happened.

GregProops: I had never seen it before and I thought it was cool that you could just get up and make things up.

Whosers: Lauren: Were people supportive of you when you decided to go into comedy?

GregProops: Uh, yeah I suppose. I think in anything one does, you depend on the kindness of other people in some respect. When I started doing standup when I was 18 or 19, I was with a partner named Forrest Brakeman.

GregProops: We met this band at a gig at our junior college and they asked us to come down and open for them at this bar in Palo Alto. We thought they were ancient, like 26 or 27, we were like 18 or 19 and thought we were real funny.

GregProops: That started my working in nightclubs, you know?

GregProops: And they were supportive.

GregProops: Then there’s been lots of people over the years who have supported me, you know, either bookers or club owners or agents.

GregProops: And of course my wife, you know, most important of all, important to me and aids and abets me.

* Whosers awwww

Whosers: What about your parents/family?

GregProops: Oh yeah, my parents, anything that makes you happy kind of thing.

GregProops: I think my dad was a frustrated comedian, you know?

GregProops: They didn’t stand in my way, let me put it that way.

Whosers: Kath G: Greg, you have a lot of historical references in your stand-up. What resources do you draw on to incorporate it, and do you find it goes over well with audiences?

GregProops: Well, unfortunately … it’s sort of a general, as my wife would say, a horizontal knowledge of history.

GregProops: Because of my travels. I wished I had studied history.

GregProops: Like the history channel, I don’t watch it much, it’s too dopey for me.

GregProops: I like the British documentaries, they go into more depth.

GregProops: I just feel like history is very much alive and important and I don’t, you know, I can’t worry about whether people get it or not, per se.

GregProops: I just have to do it.

GregProops: I think it’s funny and I think it’s pertinent because I think history is pertinent.

GregProops: If they don’t get it, they should crack a book. I don’t know how to get people to get it.

GregProops: I think a lot of people in this country think it’s too useless or unnecessary to try to deal with it at all.

GregProops: They are very wrong.

GregProops: I’ve heard people say that “I wasn’t born then so why should I say that.” It’s very ignorant.

GregProops: I can’t deal with that kind of dismissiveness over history.

* Whosers applaud in agreement

GregProops: The people take for granted that things are the way they are without realizing that things just don’t happen,

GregProops: that people have to make important decisions and sacrifices to carry on.

GregProops: You know, like, for instance, a lot of things that happened this week.

GregProops: The Supreme Court withheld the partial birth abortion ruling in Nebraska, so everyone has to understand, women particularly, that the right to contraception and the right to freedom of choice didn’t just happen.

GregProops: It’s a sacred right and a lot of women died for it, literally died for it.

GregProops: And people who are very glib about labor unions and say they are just lazy, all that, people literally died so we could have a short work week.

GregProops: There was a time when people worked 6 days a week, children worked in factories.

GregProops: They still do around the world.

GregProops: But not here because they died for it here.

GregProops: I just think people don’t understand the rest of the world.

GregProops: It’s not emphasized in the news.

GregProops: IRC is probably owned by some big company.

GregProops: They could learn about history, too.

GregProops: It was a long boring answer. There’s also a difference, that’s the other problem in the USA, we have a lot of problems dealing with history.

GregProops: The good case in point is the confederate flag issue, you know what I mean.

GregProops: We were a slave owning country – pretending that that didn’t happen, doesn’t make it better.

GregProops: Clearly it’s is bad, but we’re not allowed to mention it. Not only can’t mention, but can’t mention that Thomas Jefferson had slaves and slept with them…

GregProops: A lot of people had to die. We’re about denying that things happen because we’re afraid it will hurt someone’s feelings, rather than deal with the reality on that.

Whosers: Sharilyn: You’re clearly a very well read and intelligent person. With all the career paths you could have chosen, what drew you to comedy?

GregProops: I like being, you know, in nightclubs – hehe. It’s immediate. I’m kind of an instant gratification kind of guy.

GregProops: There’s an enormous amount of freedom in stand-up that appeals to me.

GregProops: And you get to have, you know, immediate contact with other human beings in an environment that you’re creating, if you get my drift.

GregProops: It’s not created in a television studio, it’s not discussed by a committee of people who aren’t entertainers.

GregProops: It’s not formulated to be popular.

GregProops: It’s just me, my opinion, the microphone, and the people.

GregProops: Chuck D from Public Enemy said about rap music, he said it’s like the news, and I like to feel that comedy can be that way.

GregProops: Like comedy is like the news.

GregProops: It’s immediate.

GregProops: Hopefully involving and also carrying on an oral tradition in this country.

GregProops: It goes back to town meetings and chataquas.

GregProops: People used to give speaking tours in this country before stand-up comedy.

GregProops: You’d go see Charles Dickens.

GregProops: You’d see an orator, there was such as thing as an orator.

GregProops: And I think stand-up holds up to that tradition at its best.

GregProops: When I say at its best I’m talking Chris Rock, Paula Poundstone, Richard Pryor…

Whosers: Kim: What is your most embarrassing moment in show business?

GregProops: If you mean, in general, Billy crystal singing on the Oscars, no one likes that.

GregProops: But for me? The most embarrassing moment in show business… I had a lot of them; you get caught up in horrible things.

GregProops: Years ago in the Bay Area I dressed up in a sheep outfit at a charity softball game.

GregProops: No one saw me.

* Whosers wish there were pictures!

GregProops: I tried to steal the umpires hat and the umpire said “Give me that hat back, it cost me $15.”

GregProops: Hehe. There probably is somewhere; I’m never going to tell you…

Whosers: Well, we found the Christmas card!

Whosers: Shella: Are there any comedians/improvisers you think are really great, that no one else knows about?

GregProops: Yeah, in Los Angeles, Paul F. Tompkins.

GregProops: Extremely astute.

GregProops: Observant.

GregProops: Hilarious comedian!

GregProops: And writer.

GregProops: Greg Behrendt.

GregProops: He has a show on comedyworld.com.

GregProops: I think it’s called manversation – like conversation.

GregProops: He is also a HILARIOUS stand-up comic.

GregProops: Zack Galafinkas.

GregProops: Extremely odd.

GregProops: Original.

GregProops: Obtuse.

GregProops: There’s a guy who plays in Wayne’s group (Jonathan Mangum).

GregProops: Brilliant.

GregProops: Fresh-faced young kid.

GregProops: I think he goes on the road with Wayne.

* Whosers applaud for Jonathan.

GregProops: Maryiln Raskjub can be very funny.

GregProops: And then there’s lots of English comics who aren’t known here but are known in England.

Whosers: Melissa: What is your strangest fan experience?

GregProops: I’m not going to tell you that, but I will tell you that people are usually really, really nice.

GregProops: Sometimes they give me chackas(?) and are usually very complimentary.

GregProops: Mostly people want a picture.

GregProops: The problem is, as my wife will tell you, I’m not always in a good mood and I just hope that I don’t act like an asshole to anybody.

GregProops: Because I think you never forget when someone acts like an asshole to you.

Whosers: Sue B: How much reading do you do, and what are your favorite genres/authors?

GregProops: I don’t read enough.

GregProops: I read the sports section everyday.

* Whosers applaud

GregProops: And I read Vogue and the Tattler.

GregProops: I read travel books sometimes.

GregProops: My favorite genre is baseball history, which is tedious if you’re not a baseball fan.

GregProops: I like to read bios of movie stars. I’m not very deep.

GregProops: And crimes and mysteries.

GregProops: My favorite authors are James Crumley, Patricia Highsmith, Charles Willeford.

GregProops: And my favorite author, he doesn’t write crime, but fiction, Cormac McCarthy.

GregProops: And I’m trying to get though a book called “Cities of the Plain,” third in the trilogy of “All the Pretty Horses” and “The Crossing.”

GregProops: He’s extremely complex. I picked up the book several times and couldn’t get through it.

GregProops: I’m also reading the “Tremor of Forgery” by Patricia Highsmith.

GregProops: And I just finished reading an autobiography of Billy Wilder.

GregProops: And some autobiographies of Lefty Grove and Buck O’Neil.

Whosers: Lisa: What do you think of John Rocker?

Whosers: Speaking of baseball.

GregProops: John Rocker is a flipped young jock who shot his mouth off to a reporter and then realized the horrifying implications that happens in a media circus.

GregProops: John Rocker is, you know, learning, what he was ignorant of before.

GregProops: The problem with baseball and society, is not Rocker. The problem is that the baseball owners believe in what John Rocker said in Sports Illustrated, dearly and deeply.

GregProops: They are misogynist, racist, grasping millionaires (the owners not the players).

GregProops: You can’t expect every athlete to have a brain in their head, that’s not what they’re there for.

GregProops: The dirty little secret is the owners never EVER wanted to make it a level playing field for everyone.

GregProops: Therego it took them 100 years for black men to play.

GregProops: Another 30 years for black men to manage.

GregProops: No black owners, no women owners, no women players, you tell me what’s going on.

GregProops: John Rocker was just saying it to be funny.

GregProops: My problem is not with him, but the powers that be, because they believe it.

GregProops: Also, there is more of a problem with men in sports, beating up and killing women. That’s more important to me than some dumb redneck saying he hates fags.

GregProops: To me that’s a huge issue (men beating up their wives and girlfriends).

Whosers: Tracy: Who do you miss performing with from the UK series?

GregProops: Ooh, all of them.

GregProops: Jim Sweeney.

GregProops: Josie Lawrence.

GregProops: Tony Slattery.

GregProops: Richard Vranch.

GregProops: Paul Merton.

GregProops: McShane.

GregProops: But I don’t miss them that much, cause when I got to London, I do perform with them.

GregProops: I’ll be at the Comedy Store on August 9th with a lot of them.

GregProops: I actually get to see them a lot and perform with them.

GregProops: Mike came to my show the other night, but we didn’t throw down together, but we do occasionally.

GregProops: Oh, and Clive of course, darling Clive.

GregProops: How could I have forgotten to mention Clive?

Whosers: Angie: Is Colin a good kisser?

GregProops: Colin is a very sexy man.

GregProops: That’s my whole answer.

* Whosers applaud wildly

Whosers: Jeff K: What did you think of John Sessions?

GregProops: John is one of the quickest people I’ve ever met.

GregProops: And I would’ve really liked a chance to work with him more.

GregProops: They have a thing in England, where if you are too clever, you’re an asshole.

GregProops: In Australia they call it the “tall poppy syndrome.” In England it’s “too clever by half.”

GregProops: If you start to shine too much, they are going to put you right back in your place, and I think that’s what happened with the public and John.

GregProops: Eventually the media turns on you.

GregProops: Personally, we are very good friends.

GregProops: I haven’t seen him in years, only in plays and stuff. He’s a very talented person.

GregProops: In my opinion John is one of the main reasons the English Whose Line was a success. Clearly the star of the show – there, I’ve said it.

GregProops: It used to be starring John Sessions, with the rest of us.

GregProops: Because he was the funniest one.

Whosers: Erik: Is there a chance that Clive will do a guest-host on Drew’s Line?

GregProops: There is a slim chance and it’s the same chance as a snowball falling in the middle of Grand Central Station during the morning commute on the 10th of July.

Whosers: Stephanie: Why Ocelots?

GregProops: They’re adorable.

Whosers: Jeffy B: When you’re at home, who does the cooking?

GregProops: My wife.

GregProops: She’s a great cook.

GregProops: She’s the best cook, I think, in the world.

* Whosers awwww

GregProops: For instance, she can make Thai tiger prawns, duck risotto, veal marsala, baked goods from scratch.

GregProops: I’m not kidding, she’s a fucking great cook.

Whosers: Jill and Poto: No questions – just wanted to say we’re really looking forward to your dates at Caroline’s Comedy Nation in NYC.

GregProops: Thank you.

GregProops: Bring a friend.

Whosers: Jules: I heard a rumor you’re cutting back on WL to concentrate on a sitcom. Any truth to it?

GregProops: Not that I’ve heard of.

GregProops: We start taping at the end of July, which I’m sure every Whoser knows. I’m the last one in the loop on this one.

GregProops: With any luck, I’ll be back.

Whosers: And we all hope you will be.

Whosers: Katherine B: In last year’s con greeting, you said Wayne is “just good fun.” This year, he is pure evil just like Colin. What happened?

GregProops: You guys, I want to keep you off balance. I can’t have you feeling comfortable, that’s not how I play.

Whosers: Tracy: How exactly did the Greg/Clive banter begin, and who started it?

GregProops: He started it because he’s a butthead.

GregProops: And that’s the whole answer.

* Whosers cheer and applaud

GregProops: I don’t care who started it, you’re both going to your rooms.

Whosers: Lauren: What was your first job, comedic or otherwise?

GregProops: First? Wow. Paperboy, I delivered the San Francisco Chronicle morning edition in San Carlos.

GregProops: That might not have been my first job. I was a janitor also, when I was 14 or 15 – not a great job.

GregProops: Although it had a measure of solitude, which I enjoy. The hours weren’t very good, I had to get up real goddamn early.

Whosers: Kim: Will you ever come to Toronto to do stand-up?

GregProops: Why? Are you angry?

Whosers: Only if you don’t show up. 🙂

GregProops: I’ll meet her on Yongie Street.

Whosers: Shella: Who’s your favorite/least favorite Superhero character?

GregProops: Favorite is the Wolverine from the X-men.

GregProops: Because he has all the powers that I wished I had.

GregProops: Keen eyesight,

GregProops: acute sense of smell,

GregProops: can smoke and drink and his body regenerates immediately.

Whosers: Sharilyn: How does it feel to know you’ve influenced so many people’s choice of eyewear?

GregProops: Well, if I have, I’m proud.

GregProops: I believe in a bold eyewear statement and I think the record shows, I have backed that up.

GregProops: I’m currently wearing Paul Smith.

GregProops: *trying to read the style name on the glasses*

GregProops: PS126 I guess.

GregProops: I believe in Michael Caine in the Iprcress File. I believe in Palini.

GregProops: Peter Sellers.

GregProops: Carrie Grant.

GregProops: Nana Mouskiri.

GregProops: Groucho Marx.

GregProops: You know, I love the glasses.

Whosers: Emile: How do you come up with the names for “Weird Newscasters” and “News Report”?

GregProops: Single entendre.

Whosers: Works for us.

Whosers: Sue B: What’s easier, stand up or improv, and why?

GregProops: Well “easier” is kind of a value judgement… I dunno…

GregProops: I can’t say what’s easier. Improv is easier in the sense that you don’t have to remember your act, but more difficult because you have to make your whole act up.

GregProops: Easier doesn’t enter into it.

GregProops: I really like both.

GregProops: Improv because you’re in a group, you can bring a whole world, populate it, have enough people to make it look like there’s people.

GregProops: Stand-up is really personal,

GregProops: for me.

Whosers: Kath G: Gotta ask this: where do you shop for clothes?

GregProops: All over.

GregProops: Bloomingdales.

GregProops: Agnus B.

GregProops: Hugo Boss.

GregProops: Harvey Nickels in London.

GregProops: Frateli Versetti for shoes.

GregProops: You know, department stores.

GregProops: I don’t wear thrift as much I used to.

GregProops: I used to wear thrift, now I’m old and I don’t want it tarted up.

GregProops: But if you don’t have you know, the dosh, I would definitely go thrift, you can get more bargains.

GregProops: But rather than calling it thrift, how about vintage, you can go vintage, vintage works.

Whosers: Lauren: Did you like school when you were a kid?

GregProops: Parts of it.

GregProops: I liked some of my nice teachers

GregProops: And I liked some of the kids.

GregProops: And I hated a lot of it.

GregProops: I’m sure that’s natural.

GregProops: Or unnatural, as the case may be.

GregProops: School is confusing, you know?

GregProops: And not just what they’re teaching you.

GregProops: Like you’re learning how to be a person, I don’t know.

Whosers: Sharilyn: To what do you credit your creative use of the English language?

GregProops: Personal predilection.

Whosers: Jeffy B: What do you think of the censorship on ABC as opposed to the UK?

GregProops: It’s more stringent.

GregProops: I like less rules.

Whosers: Rob: Does it depress you that the Giants suck this year? (Disclaimer: Jules the typist is bitterly opposed to this question!)

GregProops: I think “suck” is a little strengulent.

GregProops: But you know, clearly a little part of me dies when they are not good.

Whosers: A Whoser enclave: Why did you decide to change your glasses style?

GregProops: I change it every couple of years.

GregProops: Don’t want to make it too boring.

Whosers: Nick: What did you do with the $5,000 from Win Ben Stein’s Money?

GregProops: Blew it on drugs.

* Whosers cheer and applaud

Whosers: Joe: If you hadn’t gone into comedy, what would your career of choice be?

GregProops: Baseball historian

GregProops: Or petty thief

GregProops: By the way, I’ll be on Rock n’Roll Jeopardy with Graham Nash and Kerri Verer.

Whosers: Please keep us posted on that!

Whosers: This is our last question:

Whosers: Sharilyn: We’re sharing our conference space with about 200 Seventh-Day Adventists with puppets, and we’re scared. Do you have any advice for us?

GregProops: Oh god, run!

GregProops: Be sure to smile.

GregProops: You don’t want to anger them.

Whosers: We will.

GregProops: Big love to everybody except the asshole who asked about the Giants.

GregProops: Please, drink as much as you can, you’re only young once.

*Whosers cheer LOUDLY!

Whosers: Do you have any questions for us?

Whosers: Wanna know why we’re such freaks or anything?

GregProops: Why do you plague me?

Whosers: Because we love you 🙂

GregProops: Awwww.

GregProops: That’s sweet.

Whosers: And because Colin deserted us this weekend.

GregProops: Maybe Colin has a life

Whosers: lisa: How can he? He’s Canadian.

GregProops: Nice.

GregProops: Go Jays

Whosers: Greg thank you so much for doing this chat with us. We apologize for taking you from your oatmeal.

GregProops: That’s alright. Thank YOU very much and have a good time.

* Whosers give Greg big applause!

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