By Lance Eaton – AudioBookCafe.Com – July 10th, 2004

Lance Eaton: Is Greg Proops your real name?

Greg Proops: My real name is Tim Johnson. I changed it to sound more scatological.

Eaton: At what point do you decide to become a comedian? Where and when did you train to become an improvisational comedian?

Proops: I didn’t have a choice. I knew when I was a kid. I was writing jokes in grade school, started doing comedy in earnest in high school with my buddies Tom Motroni and Forrest Brakeman. I learned improv from other kids in college. There was an improv group at the cantina in my dorms at S.F. State called Faultline Comedy Theater. They did an audience spot where they would ask for a volunteer from the crowd. I went and watched and decided I could do that. The next week I sat in the front row and when they asked I jumped up and did an improv. A Moonie and a drunk at a bus station, as I recall. The next day the leader of the group, Reed Kirk Rahlmann, asked me to join. I never went to Second City or the Groundlings. I learned it all from friends.

Eaton: Have you ever frozen in front of an audience while doing improv?

Proops: Why? What have you heard?

Eaton: What are some of the highlights of your career?

Proops: Meeting and interviewing Jonathan Winters, Bob Newhart, August Wilson, Neil Innes. Meeting Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Spending all day in a dressing room listening to Stephen Fry. Touching Lily Tomlin. Performing in my beloved San Francisco. Doing stand up in Edinburgh, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Paris. My long and fruity association with the Comedy Store Players in London and the Improv All Stars here in the States.

Eaton: What comedians (if any) have served as role models or icons while growing up and becoming a comic?

Proops: Will Durst and Debi Durst from San Francisco. From Will I learned work ethic, from Debi that it’s okay to be yourself. I love George Carlin, Bill Cosby the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers. But the comics I saw in San Francisco influenced me with their style and presence — Bobby Slayton, Warren Thomas and Paula Poundstone.

Eaton: You’ve been known to win game shows like Win Ben Stein’s Money and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Is that just pure innate wisdom or have you had a formal education?

Proops: I did not win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, I won The Weakest Link. Also Rock n’ Roll Jeopardy. I have shallow horizontal knowledge – it’s a mile wide and a centimeter deep. I love games and hate to lose.

Eaton: What is a typical day for Greg Proops?

Proops: Pain, bitterness, regret, sleep.

Eaton: How did the show on come about?

Proops: I met Brian Fielding in Aspen several years ago and he straight up asked me. So, blame him.

Eaton: Where do you get your material for the show “Audible Proops?”

Proops: You’re kidding, right?

Eaton: What goes into an episode of “Audible Proops” from beginning to end? Is your show fully scripted or how much of it is ad-libbed?

Proops: Do to the nature of my work for the government I am not at liberty to reveal these trade secrets. It’s for your safety.

Eaton: Let me rephrase those two questions — what kind of preparation goes into an episode of your show — or is that confidential as well? Does my Ovaltine decoder ring give me any level of clearance?

Proops: I prepare by anointing myself with precious oils. I then fast for six days and enter a sweat lodge. When the bird spirit enters my body, I am ready and commence. Your Ovaltine decoder ring has been reclassified and no longer grants you access to level nine.

Eaton: Audible Proops was “relaunched” in April — what happened during the interim?

Proops: I gave birth to my beautiful twins Sharon and Stone.

Eaton: So were you anesthetized for the birthing procedure or did you just grin and bare it?

Proops: No, they sprang full grown from my forehead much like Pallas Athena.

Eaton: What kind of feedback do you get for the show from fans or critics?

Proops: Little, if any. If you agree and laugh fine, if you disagree just laugh and walk away.

Eaton: Has there ever been any thought about expanding the show or changing the format?

Proops: Yes, we were going to go all sports bloopers but we lost the funding.

Eaton: How much, if any, censorship has put on you?

Proops: None that I know of. That’s why I dig it. I may run freely in the night.

Eaton: You often appear with other members from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” At what point did you and the others become friends or start to collaborate?

Proops: Day one. I went to the U.K. in 1989 and started hanging out with the Comedy Store Players. When we came to the U.S. to do the Drew Carey version Drew started us working on the road together. I have learned all from these fine alcoholic improvateurs.

Eaton: Did you feel it was any different when doing British and American versions of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Proops: Yes. The U.K. version allowed us more time to flow. The U.S. version was more action-packed. Dare I say it, but with the queer jokes and dick riffs, the U.K. version was wittier.

Eaton: What are some of your current and upcoming projects?

Proops: Drew Carey’s green screen project will air this fall on the WB. It’s improv with crazy animation all from the fevered mind of millionaire playboy Drew Carey. I am on tour with the All-Stars. We are also playing Montreal Just For Laughs Festival in July.

Eaton: With all of your traveling for various shows and performances, how do you fit in time to do the show?

Proops: There is always time for vitriol. It’s delightfully cleansing.

Eaton: So was your pet ocelot, Shakira, named after the international singer, or did Shakira steal the name from your pet?

Proops: Shakira was a gift from Sonia Gandhi. She named her after a favorite aunt.

Eaton: Of all the gigs you participate in, show host, improv comedian, actor, etc., which one do you find most fulfilling?

Proops: International Crime Lord.

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