Greg Proops: An Improv Master.
Greg Proops is a standup comedian, known for his improv work on the U.S. and UK versions ofWhose Line Is It Anyway? He wrote in to talk about his first standup gig, the differences between U.S. and UK audiences, and one of his earliest jokes.
Do you remember the first joke you created?
Not really I was riffing as a kid. here is an early one; Roman soldiers fall in! Count off! Eye, Eye eye, Eye eye eye, eye vee…
Do you follow a certain process when writing material?
Not really. Sometimes I look at the news or the net and pick some topics to start with. Or hope inspiration strikes. Honing the material is a process of taking it on stage and beating into shape. Sometimes jokes come out fully formed and that is bliss.
Do you have a favorite topic to write material about?
What was the first comedy album you heard?
Bil Cosby “Right.” Tremendous record, I listened over and over. “My Son, the Folk Singer” and “My Son, the Celebrity,” by Alan Sherman.
Do you remember your first experience with improvisational comedy?
Hell yes. I went to SF State and they had an Improv group that played at the cantina. I went and they did an audience spot and I thought I can do that. So, the next week I went and sat in front and jumped up when they asked. It was a Moonie and a wino in a bus station. They next day they asked me to join.
Do you prefer standup comedy or improv work more?
Both. I play with Ryan Stiles, Chip Esten and Jeff Davis here. as well as Drew and Kathy Kinney. In the UK with fabulous Comedy Store Players so i am lucky to roll with the big kids. Standup is my baby and I can say what I like. Like comparing apples and peaches.
How did you first become involved with Whose Line Is It Anyway?
They came to SF in 88 and I was on the road in Idaho with Tom Kenny, who is now SpongeBob. They came back the next year thank fuck and I got on.
You perform a lot in the UK. What are the biggest differences between UK and U.S. audiences?
So many things. The basics are the same. they will wait longer in the UK. They aren’t always smarter, but there is a different audience ethos. Canadian crowds are shyer.
You’re on the road a lot doing standup comedy. What’s been your worst travel experience?
Jesus, dude. So many. Being turned away from hotels. A guy died on the plane. No food. Let’s remember the Ritz and flying private a couple of times.
Describe your worst standup gig?
A group of guys at a disco called Tingles in San Mateo were heckling me and a big dude from their group got up and headed for the tiny cheese wedge that was the stage. I theatened to “bash his head in” with a mic stand. He paid me no mind and turned and bowed to his friends. The audience was a little huffy i had threatened to kill one of them.
What’s your biggest piece of advice to up-and-coming comedians?
Get all the stage time you can. Do not take no. Perservere.
For more info on Greg Proops, check out http://www.gregproops.com/