So that Charlie Sheen clip on GSN's Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza aired last night.
I wish this had aired months ago. Because then, anyone who wondered about Charlie Sheen's live comedy skills could have seen that he had none. And anyone who wanted to help Charlie Sheen mount a live comedy tour could have seen this and realized he had no skills to sustain a paid audience of thousands. It's that bad. And this is an easy improv game.
Look. I listened to Charlie Sheen talk live on the radio overnight with Boston DJs Toucher and Rich, and he sounded downright friendly. Sane. Even slightly amusing. But if he wants people to pay money to see him, he should at least be professional enough to try to mount a professional show. Because this is not that.
Roll the clip!
We never did find out Whose Line Is It Anyway? But the gang's all back together again to perform short-form improv games, only this time they're on a big Vegas resort stage (at the MGM Grand) and it's all for Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza, which debuts tonight at 8 and 11, airing weeknights on GSN, aka the Game Show Network.
Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Colin Mochrie and Kathy Kinney talked up the new series recently, but before we hear their thoughts, let's look at a promotional clip!
So what makes them want to work with Drew Carey again?
Kathy Kinney: "Well, I was just going to say, Drew Carey—we were all there when Drew got addicted to improv. We heard the click and he has created these venues, places for us to just come and do the improv with, and because he’s loyal like a big wet dog, you know, he just always invites us all to come play with him. That’s my story. I’m sticking to it."
Colin Mochrie: "And I have pictures of him dressed as a big wet dog, so he tends to hire me for anything."
Ryan Stiles: "If Drew asks, we do it. We went overseas with him. If Drew asks, you want to do it. you want to please him
Kinney: "It's just about loyalty."
And how exactly will this be different from Whose Line is it Anyway?
Mochrie: "So it, it’s more like a taping of what our Vegas shows were. Where everyone takes time. Everybody has a chance to introduce the scene, set up the characters. So there’s no host that way. Also, unlike Whose Line, Ryan and I would always work together, you know, Brad and Wayne would always do the songs. So it’s really mixed up that way. We got a chance to work with everybody. I got to do a couple of singing games, which I — Whose Line I think was contracted not to have me sing. So, it has many, many differences."
Stiles: "Can I add a couple?"
Oh, to be live and on television. Memories. Remember all the way back to last night, when NBC did not one, but two live half-hour editions of 30 Rock to entertain three of America's time zones in real time?
Wait. Hold that thought. Remember way back to when all TV shows were produced live? Nope. Went too far back. Third try. How about a decade ago, when Drew Carey and his cast and friends produced multiple live episodes of The Drew Carey Show? I remember that, not only because it was a popular show, but also because they upped the ante by incorporating one of the short-form improv games from Whose Line is It Anyway (as well as some of the comedians from that series), in which they'd ring a bell without warning, prompting the character to come up with a new punchline on the spot.
As you see in this 2001 episode, Drew Live III, the improv added an extra layer of living to live TV, as well as chances for characters to break. Roll the clips!
In real-life, the New Zealand comedy music duo Flight of the Conchords won a Grammy this year and is up for another one in 2009. In their HBO show, however, Bret and Jermaine are still trying to catch a break as the second season opens. Funny or Die gets to bring us the premiere a month before it airs on HBO, for American audiences only (sorry, not my call), so watch it now, and see what happens. Greg Proops, Andrea Rosen and Andrew Secunda make appearances, as well as season one regulars Kristen Schaal and Arj Barker. There's also a subplot for Crazy Doggs (the competing band from Todd Barry and Demetri Martin).
Watch to the end, and you'll also get a sneak peek at the HBO comedy, East Bound & Down, featuring Danny McBride, Will Ferrell and Andrew Daly. Enjoy!
Anything and everything is up for grabs in the hour-plus riffathon here in Montreal called Stiles & Proops: Unplanned. As the sign behind Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops reads: "Two Guys. One Sofa. No Script." Both skilled improvisers, Stiles and Proops have no problem carrying a conversation and letting it go wherever it may lead, and using any possible distraction to their advantage -- whether it's a couple who arrived late or a woman from the night before attempting to call them out for repeating themselves (they weren't). Each night, they invite an audience member onstage to sit on a stool and write notes and other topics on a whiteboard. Each night, too, includes a mystery celebrity guest. Last night, director Jason Reitman got talked into singing with Stiles and Proops (though they let Reitman off the hook after a couple of lines). Fellow Whose Liner Colin Mochrie also happened to be in the audience last night, and sure enough, he got beckoned down to chat for a bit. Did you know that Canadian TV (CTV) had Mochrie host Are You Smarter Than A Canadian Fifth-Grader? It only lasted five episodes. "They were worried too many people would win," Mochrie said. Since Mochrie was hosting the equivalent of Jeff Foxworthy's show in the States, Stiles tried to goad Mochrie into telling some "You know you're a Newfie" jokes. Newfie, for us Americans who don't follow such matters, is short for Newfoundland. OK. We also learned that Mochrie, who played a Nabisco "snack fairy" in TV ads, took part in a New York City parade for Madison Avenue ad icons, which was weird for him, as people would shout, "Hey, Mr. Clean! Hey, Mr. Peanut! Hey...Colin!" Some joking about the Whose Line "hoe-down" song format -- is hoe-down a song genre? exactly -- and Mochrie joined Stiles and Proops for an ode to Montreal, with Mochrie getting off the best and timeliest quip about being more popular than Paul McCartney in Quebec City. From Reitman, we learned that he is working on an adaptation of the book, "Up in the Air," and also that the Montreal-born director of Juno is not a fan of Air Canada, and can tell you a joke about it.
You probably recognize Greg Proops from his years improvising on TV in both the U.K. and U.S. in Whose Line is it Anyway? Some of you may remember Proops from hosting a TV dating show called Rendez-View. Or maybe it's the suit that jogs your memory. I had the chance to chat with Proops over the holiday weekend, and before we get to it, here's a look at his appearance last month on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Greg Proops has been delivering witty retorts for years. This weekend he'll headline Comix in New York City (want a discount ticket? read all the way to the end!), then provide the monologue for UCB's ASSSSCAT on Sunday, head out Monday for Sag Harbor and the Bay Street Theatre, then up to Montreal for Just For Laughs, where he'll join improv friend Ryan Stiles for a series of shows July 15-19 called Stiles and Proops: Unplanned. Caught up? Alrighty then. Let's catch up with Proops.
Wow. Evel Knievel really gets me nostalgically, because my first newspaper gig out of college was in Twin Falls, Idaho, home to that Snake River Canyon plunge!
"He’s the perfect American hero, really," Proops says. "No knowledge of science. 'I'm just going to do it.' It's that kind of stick-to-it-iveness in the face of grievous bodily injury that separates us from the animals. At least animals of a lesser stock, obviously."
At least Robbie is back in the family business with his recent motorcycle jumps making TV news.
"Yeah, he’s keeping that bit alive!" Proops replied.
Enough about the Knievels. More about you, sir. The archives of television history prove that you know your way around improv, so what do you tell stand-up comedians who look down on the art form?
"People want to hate you because you do the improv, but then they see that you have jokes and then they can't hate you," he says. "I don't know how it happened that I even got to do both. Improv, I feel like it's been a fantastic part-time job that's been so rewarding because that's how so many people know me. And I wouldn't have planned it that way."
How much does improv inform your stand-up?
"A lot," he says. "One, it gives you the courage to carry on, no matter how much your stand-up dies...you can roll with it, and flow back into the material when givin the opportunity. Plus, because I have an inclination to go off the script, even though what I've written is genius (chuckles), I can go off and riff. That background gives me that courage." Proops adds that performing in an improv group is somewhat like being part of a band, and forgive him a mixed metaphor or two here. "Playing with Ryan (Stiles), he's like Babe Ruth. He hits home runs. You know what I mean?" he says. "I'm like Ringo. All I have to do is show up, hit the drums every once in a while."
But what about the attitudes some people and comedians alike have against improv comedy?