By Jill Bernard – YESand! – Minneapolis, MN – Summer 2003

      It’s not that Greg Proops minds being on Whose Line Is It Anyway? It’s just that “working with those guys live is a million times more fun than it is on TV,” Proops says. “We actually let each other talk and do things and we don’t do the same goddamn things over and over again.”

      He now gets plenty of opportunities to perform with the Whose Line cast live, as they’ve recently taken to touring as the Improv All-Stars. (“We’re only called that because Hat Trick won’t allow us to call ourselves Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Proops remarks.) “It only took us ten years to think of it, of course,” Proops jokes. “We’d only been working together since 1948.”

      Drew Carey kicked the whole thing off about four or five years ago, while they were doing Whose Line. Proops says “He had a gig in Vegas, and instead of doing it himself, which is what he was contracted to do, he asked all of us to do it.” From there, the group went on a small Northwest tour arranged by Ryan Stiles. Then it was off to Canada, Atlantic City, and Sioux Saint Marie, MI.

      “We went to Montreal for the [Just for Laughs] Festival,” he said. “Drew stayed with us and guested up there” with Proops, Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, Jeff Davis, and Sean Masterson. “It’s been really really fun, we’ve expanded it a little,” Proops says. “We played Tahoe this year without Drew and Ryan, and now they’re doing Tahoe while I’m in Edinbough. There’s so many of us that we can kind of mutate. And Kathy Kinney sits in with us too.”

      A highlight of the Just For Laughs Festival is when he and Mochrie were making fun of Esten, Davis and Sherwood as the three sang in Greatest Hits, “They went ‘okay, switch.’ So me and Colin went out and sang a song, which you’d never see us do on the TV show. And, of course, it was funny… That was the high point for me and Colin, I think, of the whole festival. We can be funny, it’s just that that’s not something the producer [of Whose Line] does. It’s not our aesthetic choice. We have no choice in what we do on the show.”

      Proops enjoys the improv he’s doing now off the air and on live stages. “I’m really lucky because I get to play with – well, obviously I’m biased – but I think the greatest improvisors in the world because the Comedy Store Players in London are just ridiculously funny, and the All-Stars are all tremendous. It keeps your game pretty high… those guys are all so funny that you have to run real fast.”

      Proops’ live schedule is intense – he didn’t just perform with the All-Stars at the Just For Laughs Festival; he also did stand-up, and appeared at the Loto Quebec Gala featuring Carl Reiner. The week after that he was in Washington DC on July 31 as a guest star at the ComedySportz National Tournament. From there he’s off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he’ll host a BBC radio show, chatting up fellow Fringe stars. He’ll also improvise with London’s Comedy Store Players in the Fringe and do his stand-up as well. “I get to do everything there,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve been there like a thousand times. I’m the mayor.”

      YESand caught up with Proops outside the DC Improv, a club he’s performed at as a stand-up, that was the site of the CSz Tournament. “My personal appearance guy said do you want to be in a ComedySportz show and I said yeah,” Proops says. Mind you, Proops had never seen a ComedySportz show before. “I had a vague idea what it was because I knew what Theatresports was,” he says. “It was really fun, I loved it.” He loved it enough to introduce the f-word to the normally squeaky-clean stage.

      Proops has no hang-up switching back and forth between improv and stand-up. “I’m just one of the people that’s able to do both, so I’m pretty lucky,” he says. “Some people tell me there’s a rivalry, that improvisors don’t do stand-up and stand-ups don’t do improv, but I’ve always done both. I’ve found that the improv’s helped my stand-up and vice-versa. I like stand-up because I can say the poisonous shit that I want to say. It’s not appropriate to do it with other groups trying to do their thing. I’m not hamstrung by doing improv, it’s just a different focus.”

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