By Rich Freedman – Times-Herald – October 31st, 2009

      Greg Proops wasn’t always San Francisco’s most dapper stand-up comic. There were years he would sooner wear a Barney the Dinosaur costume than suit and tie.

      Why, during those early days — like when the 50-year-old was a twentysomething — If it had a skull, Proops wore it. Chains? Now you’re talking.

      But, as one of the featured performers in TV’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and the off-shoot “Whose Live Anyway” Nov. 7 at Cache Creek, Proops looked into the future and it wasn’t pretty.

      “I saw a guy at the airport who was 30-something and he had the exact same outfit,” Proops remembered. “Skull shirts. Lots of jewelry. I went, ‘Oh. That doesn’t look great.’ At that moment it hit me. It would be better if I started to dress up a little bit. Now, I can’t be on stage without a coat. It’s my armor. I have to be looking at the next 40 years of my life. I can’t be wearing skull shirts when I’m 62.”

      Basically, “I’m too old to look like I live in a dorm,” Proops saw.

      Goal accomplished. This happily married man has settled into the Southern California lifestyle, 10 years removed from his days as an admired Bay Area stand-up.

      And he’s been busy. Very busy.

      Max Madigan on Nickelodeon’s show, “True Jackson, VP.” A frequent guest on “Red Eye” on Fox News and “The Late Lake Show with Craig Ferguson.” The voice of cartoon “Bob the Builder.” He also hosts the new “Head games” on the Science Channel.

      Not bad for someone who “rarely goes on auditions. I’ve just managed to nail a couple of things. I’ve been lucky,” Proops said.

      At Cache Creek, Proops joins fellow “Whose Line” colleague Ryan Styles, plus Chip Esten and Jeff B. Davis.

      Improv is where he thrives. And something he’s done since college when he first witnessed an improv group and claimed, “I can do that.” He did, and joined the group the next day.

      “I guess you have to be predisposed to it (improv),” Proops said. “I think there’s a crying need for attention and having to be in a group all the time. I share that with my stand-up gene, which means you don’t want to be near anyone and want to be miserable on your own. I’ve been good at it.”

      With Drew Carey’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” Proops had a ball.

      “Ours was successful and funny consistently all the time,” he said.

      The fun of the live shows of “Whose Live Anyway?” is the interacting with the audience, Proops said.

      “The connection with the crowd is everything,” he said. “You want to connect and be yourself as much as you can. I had someone say, ‘What I liked best was when you’re laughing at each other.’ I find these guys genuinely amusing. We still crack each other up. On the road, we hang out.”

      With improv, there’s the element of working without a net “as well as complete focus on what you’re doing,” Proops said, adding that it can’t be faked.

      “The crowd knows when you’re really there and not just phoning it in,” he said.

      “Whose Live Anyway” has performed at several Indian casinos, which typically come off great Proops said, as long as the audience “hasn’t lost their child’s orthodonist’s money” in the casino.

      “I do have vices, but I’m not a big gambler,” Proops said. “We do play cards constantly on the bus. We have an ongoing Texas Hold ‘Em game that’s cost me a fortune over the years. I play every hand. I love the action.”

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