By Ryan Cormier – The News Journal – May 6th, 2010

      When Greg Proops saw the itinerary for the live, touring version of the improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, he couldn’t help but laugh.

      Even though the tour would bring him to Delaware for the first time, he has a prickly history with our little state.

      On his most recent stand-up comedy album, “Elsewhere,” the sharp-tongued comic took aim at Delaware, along with a host of other places across the country. The album’s hook, as the title implies, is that Proops dumps on nearly every place except the space between the four walls of his California home.

      Unlike the children-friendly “Whose Live Anyway?” show that he’ll be a part of at The Grand on Sunday night with Ryan Stiles, Chip Esten and Jeff Davis, Proops’ nightclub act is admittedly profane.

      The combination of his whip-smart comedy, quick delivery and tough language is in full evidence on the track “East Coast” on “Elsewhere.”

      This is where proud Delawareans who can’t take a ribbing might want to stop reading.

      “The vice president-elect is from Delaware. Are you kidding me?” Proops asks, opening his 90-second salvo on our state. “Delaware? No one lives in Delaware. Delaware is an existential dilemma; it’s not a place. ‘Why am I here? Why is anyone here?’ That’s what people in Delaware are saying every day.”

      And he continues, saying, “And dinky doesn’t begin to describe it. Diminutive. It’s a Hummel figure of a state. There’s adhesive on one side of Delaware — that’s how small Delaware is. And they are going to be calling the shots nationally?”

      After painting a picture of Dela-ware’s residents as folks who wear tri-corner hats, churn their own butter and take part in Revolutionary War re-enactments, Proops goes for the kill.

      “If I had to grow up in Delaware, I’d kill myself with a mint Milano Pepperidge Farm cookie,” he says. “I would just drive it through my head into my cerebral cortex to stop the pain of being from Delaware.”

      So now you know why Proops laughed when he saw he was headed to Delaware. And why Proops has a reputation for saying anything, anywhere in the name of comedy.

      If Sunday’s show in Wilmington was a stand-up gig instead of a clean improv show, he swears that he would break out the Delaware material.

      “I’ve spent too much time making fun of Delaware and I’ve never been there,” he tells The News Journal, laughing, before adding that Delaware is like Rhode Island without the mafia. (He just couldn’t resist getting in one last joke.) “I let people have it wherever I go.

      “I made a record at the Laff Stop in Houston and the owner said to me, ‘All you do is [urinate] on them and they love you for it.’ And that’s what I do everywhere I go. I hold up a mirror — a horrible, distorted funhouse mirror.”

      Proops, 50, got his big break in the early ’90s on the original British edition of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” before jumping to the American version in 1998 and joining host Drew Carey, Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie. On that show, much like the live show, the comedians perform short-form improv, riffing on situations and characters suggested by the audience.

      These days, his comedic flexibility can be seen on disparate shows like Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson, VP,” the Science Channel game show “Head Games,” Fox News’ “Red Eye” and the “Chelsea Lately” talk show on E!

      He’s also an in-demand voice actor. That was him as the voice of Bob the Builder, as well as the two-headed pod race announcer in “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”

      Even with plenty of artistic outlets, including the “Whose Live Anyway?” show, Proops says his first love is still stand-up comedy.

      “Stand-up is my job and I’m lucky enough to do improv with the boys and all the other things I get to do,” says Proops, whose credits also include being an extra in the legendary 1986 bomb “Howard the Duck,” which Proops revealed recently to comedian Doug Benson on his California-based podcast “I Love Movies.”

      Even though the “Whose Live Anyway?” tour takes the improv comedians off censored network television and into an unregulated theater setting, fans shouldn’t expect a raunchy version of the old ABC program. Proops does admit, however, that an errant curse word fly sometimes flies.

      He says a couple of years ago the show took a turn into dirtier material and some words were said on stage “that we weren’t all particularly proud of.” Soon after, they were asked to keep it clean at another venue and have remained that way ever since.

      “We discovered that we were funnier. Innuendo and inference are our friends,” he says. “If you start out with a prison rape scene at the top of the show, there’s nowhere to go.”

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