By Kellie Hwang – The Arizona Republic – July 27th, 2009

      “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” veteran Greg Proops returns to the Valley for a few shows at the Comedy Spot.

      The comedian and actor has been busy touring, appearing on TV shows such as “True Jackson, VP,” “Ugly Betty”, and “Flight of the Conchords”, and hosting live events. Born in Phoenix, Proops now lives in the Los Angeles area.

      While Proops is always on the go, he took a few minutes out of his day to chat with us:

How would you describe your comedic style?

      Humorous. Not the tragic kind of humor. I’m not any good at that. I’m smarty boots-y with baroque descriptions. I do swear occasionally.

Does improvisation have an influence on your stand-up?

      Yes. I don’t ask the crowd for suggestions or anything, but I do what we call “riffing,” and make some things up as I go along. I have material already, but I will add things in here and there.

Are you still involved in any improv?

      I play with Ryan Stiles, Chip Esten, and Jeff Davis, and we do a “Whose Line” on the road. We were in Arizona about a year ago (Diane’s edit note: Actually, it was two years ago) at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Flagstaff, and Tucson, and it was great, fun stuff. We call it “Whose Live Anyway?”. When you are doing it live for a crowd, the interaction is so great and you get to bring people onstage.

Do you find that being on TV helps your stand-up at all?

      People are familiar with me. I’m like their TV friend. People call me Greg, and there are no barriers and it’s comfortable. There is nothing worse than a nervous comic, and it is important to feel confident or else it makes the audience uncomfortable.

What was it like appearing on “Flight of the Conchords”?

      It was great, we have known each other for ages. I put them on my radio show in London, and they put me on theirs. I was more than happy to be on the show, but I had to bring it down a bit, because I am the loudest comic on Earth.

How different is it doing comedy for a kids show as opposed to one geared for older audiences?

      Nothing really. When you play for a younger audience, you can’t cheat. For business yuppie types, they will always laugh even if they don’t mean it. Kids do not do that. If you get a laugh from kids, it’s real. They don’t pretend to like you because there is nothing in it for them. I just don’t swear, and I don’t do knob jokes, and it’s more like an old-fashioned sitcom like “I Love Lucy.” We do classic gags like the “dog wanders into the office” and “I shouldn’t be in the room,” all those jokes. I think it’s really fantastic.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming comedians?

      1. Stay out of my way. There’s not enough room for all of us.

      2. Move from Phoenix to Los Angeles, because you are eventually going to be too big for Arizona.

      3. Don’t take no for an answer. There is a lot of rejection in show business. For example, in the beginning I sent a tape to a club in Scottsdale asking for work. The owner phoned me back and said I was too intelligent for his crowd and they wouldn’t understand me. I didn’t crumble and die. I carried on, and now I play Arizona all the time, and guess what? Everyone understands what I’m talking about. Not everyone is right.

      4. Some people ask me if I am ever afraid to get onstage. If we were afraid to get onstage, there would be no comedians. You have to get over that fear in two seconds, then it’s a matter of finding your voice and everything.

      5. Get onstage as much as you can. I just did the Toronto (Just for Laughs) Festival last week, and I hadn’t done a set in two or three weeks. I had to perform for a big gala and was not nervous, but trepidatious. If you don’t perform every week, you get rusty, like a ballplayer.

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