By William Loeffler – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – January 20th, 2010

      That guy with the Austin Powers spectacles and vinegary wit, who dishes on “Chelsea Lately” and plays Max Madigan on “True Jackson, VP” on Nickelodeon is Greg Proops.

      Fans of “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” which ran for eight years on ABC, may recall Proops as the resident troublemaker in a cast that included host Drew Carey and Canadian-ized Scotsman Colin Mochrie.

      It was Proops who usually would play to the cameras or break the tension if he thought an improvised sketch, song or game didn’t have legs.

      “There’s a whole video of outtakes and us cursing,” says Proops, who performs Thursday through Saturday at the Pittsburgh Improv. “If you were dying and nothing was working out, you’d just curse and they would stop camera. It was a way to get out of bad improv.”

      There’s no such exit strategy when it comes to stand-up, however.

      “I did standup when I was in high school and college,” he says. “I feel like improv’s my other job.”

      Like many others, he came to stand-up by default. He cites “my complete lack of interest in any kind of schooling or having any kind of regular employment” as the chief motivator for embarking on the laugh track.

      Onstage, he delivers acerbic observations on bogus American history and social hypocrisy in a quick, peppery cadence. His influences, not surprisingly, include George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lily Tomlin.

      “The job isn’t to make people feel good about what they already believe,” he says. “The job is to challenge their assumptions and make them laugh.”

      But he insists he’s not out to convert anybody.

      “I’m just trying to offer a different and hopefully humorous point of view,” he says. Laughing at things you don’t agree with is called ‘sophisticated.’ ”

      His new CD, “Elsewhere,” is available on iTunes and Amazon.com.

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