Questions By Fans, Answers By Greg – 1998

Do you ever get told off by the producers for swearing during your improv in WLiiA?

      No, we don’t. Besides, swearing can be a valuable tool. If you swear they might stop tape, then you can think of something funny if you’re lucky. They don’t let us swear because it would destroy your resistance to evil.

Greg, of all the people you have met on that show (Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, etc.) who is your favorite and why?

      My best buddie is Richard Vranch. I dig all the Players. Tony said the most hilarious nasty things ever. Josie is a force of nature. I love them all. Because they are so good I can live my life.

What is your favorite skit to do? (Party Quirks, Superhero etc.)

      Film And Theatre Styles because we get to do scenes. I like games that tell a story. And men who can laugh, spit, and move on.

What was it like working with those zany guys on WLiiA?

      Zany. There are non-stop hijinks and a crazy free-for-all usually ensues. Clive wears leather underpants during the rehearsal process – he says it “frees” him. Ryan and Colin are funny guys full time so we laugh when the time is ripe. But when it comes to work hard, we don’t – we are the kooktastic crew of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”.

What do you really think of the following:

Ryan Stiles – Tall and Rangy

Colin Mochrie – Groove Monkey

Brad Sherwood – Hello Sailor

Drew Carey – The Ginchiest

How often are shows taped? Being an improvisation show, it seems that shows could be produced quite quickly, is this true?

      As often as necessary. When more are needed a runner is sent out from the Incan Capital high in the Andes and we record during the summer months so as to avoid outdoor work. When the show is running in its trance state we can do a whole season simultaneously.

What do you lot always whisper about in-between games?

      Secrets of the Saints and Sinners. Finding peace in the world where you have to put on hats. What scent Clive is wearing. Blairism.

If you were in charge of casting… and death wasn’t an issue… what performer, living or dead, would you love to appear with on Whose Line?

      Groucho, Fields, Phil Silvers, Jerry Lewis, Christopher Walken, Johnny Depp, Brett Butler, Dawn and Jennifer, McShane. I got to work with Catherine O’Hara who is best known in the UK as the mom in Home Alone or BeetleJuice but she was on a show from Canada that aired on US TV in the 80’s. It was called SCTV and it ruled super hard. Catherine did many brilliant characters including Lola Heatherton the lounge act who calls everything scary. She is one of the funniest people I have ever seen. That was cool. She was hella funny and totally groovy and I told her of my fandom and she continued to rule hard.

Do you have any plans of joining the American sitcom realm like Mike McShane and Ryan Stiles?

      Plans and dreams. I read for them sometimes and I’ve done a couple of small turns. My acting is demi-blowy so, you know. You don’t plan on a sitcom part like you would something certain like a derby win.

You are usually first in line at Hoedowns: When you start singing do you know how its going to end?

      No, I never know what I am going to say. If I did I would try and make it funnier.

Do you ever have to abandon very funny ideas because someone else takes a game in a different direction?

      Yes, but I can’t remember any specific incidents.

What do you REALLY think of Clive?

      I think Clive is the quickest person I have ever met and off screen he is a love chop.

What is your favourite game?

      Film and Theater Styles

When you were in Australia, you hosted a show here called “Hey, Hey it’s Saturday”, a very well known variety show. How were you conned into hosting that and how did you find it?

      I found it in Melbourne and it was fun and bloody difficult work mate. I like the show and Darryl was kind enough to let me host.

What do you “really” think of Darryl Somers? Because everyone but Darryl Somers reckons he’s a tool.

      Darryl treated me with every courtesy. I think he’s a gent.

Did you take great satisfaction/pleasure in strangling Dickie Knee on “Hey Hey”? (I know I did when watching it!)

      Yes. Dickie is of course inexplicably popular with the people of NSW. He is fun to swing on.

(long and convoluted) On the Doug Anthony Allstars official bootleg album “Live in Edinburgh” Paul McDermott told the audience to jump up and down really hard “because Greg Proops is doing a show directly below us”. Then I read in a magazine that you and the Allstars hated each others guts because you kept on ruining each other’s shows in Edinburgh. Then you get to Melbourne and everyone says “Wow, Greg Proops and Paul McDermott are in the Great Debate. They’re gonna get really angry at one another!” But nothing! The snide remarks were not out of character for either debater, when the audience was expecting blood! Then, Paul gets you on JJJ and “Good News Week”. So do you hate the other Allstars, or was it all media beatup? Perhaps DAAS were just lying! (Whew!)

      The Doug Anthony Allstars were appearing in a theater above me in Edinburgh in 1993. Every night they lead their crowd in the emu dance or some such nonsense and it would rattle the hell out of my room and pieces of the ceiling fell on me and the audience. Finally after two weeks of this we were mid-show and the pounding started. I told my crowd “right we are going upstairs to teach these wallabies a lesson”. So me and 120 people marched through the Assembly rooms upstairs to the ballroom and crashed the Doug Ants show. We stormed the stage and chanted “we hate, we hate the DougAnts.” Though outnumbered by their crowd my audience fought gamely while the Dougs hid backstage. Finally I told some jokes the Dougs came back out and we all sang Your Cheating Heart. The show ended, the crowd was either happy or stunned and the Dougs looked like they were going to give birth. That is the story. I asked them if they were going to invade my show but they pussed out. As far as Paul goes we are friends and he is a good guy who has been very kind to me. Sorry, I don’t hate them. But what the hell is the emu dance???

When are you coming back to Melbourne? We had an Irish/English OVERLOAD at the 1998 Festival… we’re all waiting for you to return.

      I don’t know. I really enjoyed Oz. They have the best food and wine in the world. It is a little parochial for my taste but then I’m from San Francisco a city that refuses to acknowledge the outside world.

Do you write down your routine at any stage, or do you just remember it?

      Both. I write down idea’s and then take them on-stage and riff till they are funny. This is a long process and hurts the audience. But it can’t be helped. My memory is very selective and sometimes I forget whole portions of my act.

When was your all-time favourite gig?

      I really love Edinburgh Festival and two or three years ago Jack Dee had me on a really big show at the playhouse. the crowd was insane and it was all rock. Last year at Melbourne on the last night we did a gala show and that was wild. Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco with 20-30 thousand people is way fun. But once in ’96 I did an AIDS benefit for an Irish mate named Pat Murphy at a pub in Dublin, that might have been the best fun I ever had. People gave me spliffs on stage and it was truly wonderful. Doing late nights at the Gilded Balloon in E’Burgh are awesome and of course the Pleasance Over the Road is Fab.

Do you prefer performing in the UK or US?

      I like both. The UK and especially Scotland are precious to me. I love sharing the love. San Francisco is of course groovskatchewan.

What’s the worst thing about touring the UK?

      The food on the road sucks the big one. I pined for the safety of McD’s. We ate at a lot of petrols because you can’t die of peanuts and Pepsi. Sandwiches should taste good and have lots of meat and cheese in them. Mr. Rainbow my tour Manager once got a mouldy roll on the road back from Kinnslynn. Coffee shouldn’t have to come from a jar – we have the technology. Salads don’t need a pile of shredded carrots on them. Food seems to be a complete afterthought in many parts of England. The motorway services are unspeakable. Food is not “grub.” Food is supposed to be a joy. Mushy pea juice running onto greasy chips does not spell joy. I would open a chain of burrito stands with FRESH ingredients and a chain of coffee houses with REAL coffee. Then I would smirk a lot.

Will you be at Edinburgh next year?

      I honestly can’t say. But I fucking love it there. I’m jonesing hard this year.

My friends and I were wondering if you’ll ever do any stand-up shows over here in Seattle?

      I might. I need to hook up a gig there. I love Seattle second only to my beloved SF.

Do you have any plans for touring other parts of the country/world/wherever else?

      Not now. I am trying to get work in LA. Maybe Montreal one day.

When will you be back in the UK working, and what will you be doing?

      Can’t say. Hopefully live dates next year.

Are you going to be performing at the Comedy Store in London before the end of the year?

      Yes, don’t know when. Maybe with the Players.

On your last tour I noticed that Polygram were involved, plus there were clips of your show on the series “Entertainment Biz”. Are you intending to release your live show on video, or if not, then would you ever consider doing that?

      Ring Polygram and demand it.

Are there any TV shows that you’ll be in which we should look out for in the near future, either in the States or UK?

      UK WLIIA? starts in October.

You have been to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal… any word on your Canadian fans? Differences / similarities / opinions in general? Would you ever do a tour in Canada?

      I love Canadia. I’ve played T.O and Montreal. The Festival has a lot of showbiz types so they can fuck up the humor but by and large Canadian crowds are nice. They could use a more keenly observed sense of sarcasm.

Do you remember your first time on stage?

      In kindergarten, Big Billy Goat in the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Will you get Stone Ranger to tour you to the Southend Cliffs Pavilion next tour time? I hate having to travel, mind you, it’s all part of the fun! There’s plenty of pubs here!

      Please let me live my life.

When you worked on Space Cadets, did you have any pull in the way things were done. Any say in the show?

      Some. The producers were very cool and Craig and Bill are Lamb Chops.

I am sure you had a great time on the set of Episode 1 of Star Wars. Can you give any interesting stories of the account? Also, will your account of the pod race be Tom Brokaw worthy? Also, what was your character’s name in the film?

      I can’t talk about it. Please stop asking. Now I have to kill you.

Have you had a chance to surf the Internet at all?

      Yes, mostly baseball sites.

If you ruled the world… what would it be like for all us little folks in Gregdom?

      You are all my special ones. As you know I am not for the Many I am for the Few. We would all live in harmony without the lying bummer dogs and pigswine that try to trammel our good times. Laughter would prevail and you could smoke whatever, whenever. There would be good movies and intelligent discourse. People would lay down their guns and play the Beastie Boys. Unfunny comics would perish and a sense of peace would prevail.

Musically speaking, what do you like to listen to? If someone were to look at your music collection, what would they find?

      I love ambient music. In my records you would find Garbage, Beasties, Supergrass, Suede, Steely Dan, old Elvis Costello, Stones, Clash, old Ian Hunter. I love Aerosmith, Miles, soul, and funk music from the day.

Other than Carey Grant, who or what inspires you?

      My wife, Jennifer is so smart and strong. Bob Dylan is an amazing person. Jackie Robinson the first black in major league baseball is an idol. Mohammed Ali, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, the Marx Brothers, Jesse Jackson. The pro choice movement. People who speak their mind. What inspires me to go on is the brilliance and commitment of the comics who have given so such. George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Pete and Dud, Bill Hicks. My buddy Warren Thomas and Will Durst. All the lovely people who have believed in me and all my friends and when I’m real down I think of you guys out there who bother to care about me and I feel better. The world is so full of ignorance and hate that it is important to make contact with people. But it is difficult. I have no respect for the insanely wealthy for whom the world turns on money. Mercy and rationalism are qualities my country needs to look into. I hate blind stupidity.

What do you enjoy reading when you have the time? Magazines, mysteries, classic lit, philosophy… any favorite writers or genres?

      My favorite author is Cormac McCarthy and my fave book of his is Blood Meridian. I love detective books and my fave writers are James Crumley: The Dancing Bear, Bordersnakes. Charles Willeford, The Way We Die Now, Miami Blues, and lately Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Rikki Ducornet has some beautiful books and the funniest is Entering Fire.

Who is your favorite singer/actor/comedian?

      I love Bogart, Carey, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Mitchum, Alain Delon, Senn Penn, Faye Dunaway, Angelica Houston, Glenda Jackson, Toshiro Mifune. Singers Frank, Nat “King” Cole, Ella, Dean. Comedians: Richard Pryor, George Carlin, the Larry Sanders Show, Robin Williams, Firesign Theater.

I think you look terrific, Greg, but you said you don’t like the way you look. Why?

      My head is fat. I wish I looked like a dark haired Italian guy.

Now that you’re older and wiser do you still enjoy smoking dope or have you refrained yourself?

      Dude… I can’t remember the question.

What do you do during the day when you are not working?

      Chill. I hang with my wife.

I’ve heard that your favorite baseball team is the SF Giants. Is that true? Or have you become a Dodger fan since you’ve moved to LA?

      I am once and forever a Giants fan. One of my great joys has been watching the Dodgers slide down the tubes this season.

How do you know so much about… well… everything?

      I am old and my knowledge is strictly horizontal.

If I was to rummage through your movie collection, what films would I find there?

      Thelma and Louise, Annie Hall, King of Comedy.

How did you get the audition for WLiiA?

      They came to SF in ’89 and I think one of my friends was arranging the audition.

What did you have to do and how did you think it went at the time?

      Do a bunch of games and I thought I did well.

Call you recall anything that you did for the audition?

      I honestly can’t recall all of them. Once I made up an Australian band name, The Bitchin’ Wallabies. That was kinda funny.

I would like to know about your clothes, do you buy them yourself or are you dressed by a wardrobe person at the studio?

      Yes, I buy them. I prefer suits because I am old and fat. Mostly Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Cerruti, Dolce, and Gabbana.

Are you happiest at doing improv or stand-up, or more structured acting?

      Stand-up is the funniest thing in the world. Total freedom to act and say whatever I want. What is so fantastic is the immediate communication with the crowd, There is a minimum of lying, it can be the most honest form for me. My acting is not so strong, so I don’t feel nearly as comfortable.

Are there performers you prefer to work with or do you just do your own thing whoever you’re with?

      Both. I love all the Comedy Store Players. And William Shatner.

What’s family life like at home? What are you like at home?

      I am very happily married and I am a drag at home. I whine, cry, and mope a lot.

Do you only do stand-up, occasional movies and sitcoms, or do you work on other projects?

      No other projects I can think of. I am very proud of the baseball documentary I did in 1997 with New Street Productions. It’s called Strike Out and it aired on Radio 5 in the UK.

What do you do for fun? Do you go out to places, or do you stay at home during your off time?

      My wife and I go to zoos or we travel. We love Paris and Turkey. Mostly I love to stay at home and watch movies.

Where do you buy those crazy cool glasses?

      Optics by Victor in Beverly Hills. I am currently wearing Face a Face Athos 52 20’s.

Do you need to look so interesting and stylish, or does it come naturally?

      I have tried to dress my age. When I was younger I loved skulls. Now I just want to look like I have class. Then I can say all the horrible things I really think. My wife is my fashion guide, she has terrific taste, but I pick out my own clothes. I lean towards navy, black and gray. My fashion rules: No facial hair, no hats, no jewelry, no white pants or shoes or big belts. When in doubt one must ask oneself – Would Cary Grant wear that?

Did you study drama at college or was it a hobby that turned into a profession?

      I studied Drama and was drawn to comedy.

Is your eyesight so bad that you need to wear glasses all the time or are you just used to them always being there?

      My eyesight is 20/400. I can see about 4 inches.

Seeing as you’re such a fan of baseball, have you ever thought about writing about it?

      Yes I have been tempted to write about baseball, but I haven’t yet.

What haven’t you done in your career yet that you’d like to do?

      I’d like to play a bad guy in a cool movie.

What do you think you’d be doing now if you hadn’t become a comedian/actor?

      Baseball historian or petty criminal.

What do you like/hate about yourself?

      I like my sense of humour. I hate my voice, how I look, and my body. I am lazy, indolent, unambitious, snide, and negative.

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