By Emmy Servis – Enzyme PDX – September 9th, 2010

      You might recognize him from the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Your kids may know him as Bob the Builder. You might even have heard him announcing the pod race in “Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace.” This weekend, you can catch him live at the Helium Comedy Club, in Portland.

      Though he’s a California native, Proops loves Portland with a fiery passion that burns as bright as the sun. While in town, he hopes to spend some time at Powell’s and get a drink at Huber’s. “I love your town because you read. You read, you drink, you read, you drink coffee. Your hackey-sack, bike-riding, little micro-beers … Portland is the last civilized place.”

      But, before Greg Proops got on a plane to the Pacific Northwest, his wife gave him some words of caution.

      “Don’t eat too many goddamn doughnuts.”

      Proops got his start in comedy by doing stand-up with a friend in San Francisco. He joined an improv group in college in the late ’70s and learned the comedy ropes from other kids at school and then started going to open mic nights. “And that was sort of how it happened. This was hundreds of years ago, of course,” Proops added dryly.

      Despite being hundreds of years old and voicing the lead character in PBS’ “Bob the Builder,” he enjoys having a younger audience. “It’s good to keep the crowd young. You don’t want to end up playing for only old people at the end of your career,” Proops joked.

      In the 21st century, Proops spends most of his time performing stand-up, portraying Max Madigan on Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson” and touring the country with his fellow Whose Line? alumni: Ryan Stiles, Chip Esten and Jeff Davis. “I’m really lucky because Ryan Stiles is unbelievably funny. Any sketch with Ryan is a good one.”

      Just don’t ask them to perform a hoedown.

      While on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” one of the most crowd-pleasing improvs was called Hoedown. Each of the four players would have to make up a short song in the style of a country hoedown, centered on a given topic. It might have been popular with the audience, but not with the players. “We all hated hoedowns. We never quite understood why we were doing it.” Proops admitted with a laugh.

      Proops was a regular guest on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on both the British version, and the American version. All in all, he was on the show for 14 years and has appeared in more than 100 episodes. But Proops predicted that if the hosts from both versions of the show came to a showdown, Clive Anderson from the British show would win in a battle of witticism (“because he’s scorching”), but Drew Carey from the American show would win in a battle of geniality.

      As for the stand-up routine he’ll be performing this weekend, Proops was very clear about what to expect: “Hilarity. A lot of obscure references and compound sentences with loads of adjectives, punctuated by the word – ” well, a naughty word. “Satire, in other words.” Don’t be surprised if you see cameras at the shows; Proops will be taping this weekend for a DVD. “Come out and be a part of what can only be described as broadcast history,” Proops declared modestly.

      If we’re lucky, he might talk about his pet ocelot. Though there have been a long list of ocelots in his life, his current kitten is named Lady Gaga. Though it’s hard to believe that he actually has an ocelot for a pet, Proops confided that he did indeed capture an ocelot in Costa Rica and brought it to America. “I had to trap it and smuggle it in my shorts – squirmy little thing,” Proops reminisced fondly.*

      Proops did want to make one suggestion to the inhabitants of this damp city. “There are places where the sun shines between September and April and you’re allowed to visit them.” Hopefully while he’s in town, he’ll finally make it over to Voodoo Doughnuts. In fact, he wouldn’t mind if they renamed the froot-loop-topped doughnut from The Loop to The Proop Loop. Or they could just add a brand-new doughnut to the menu.

      After some deliberation, it was decided that a Greg Proops doughnut would include “A regular cake doughnut, cherries, and then perhaps the marshmallows from the Lucky Charms cereal.”

      Portland would approve.

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