BATAVIA – Probably best known for his appearances on the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” Greg Proops will join his castmates on stage Friday, May 30, at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre for “Whose Live Anyway,” a live version of the show.
The Batavia Arts Centre is located on the Batavia High School campus at 1201 Main St., Batavia. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available by visiting bataviafineartscentre.org.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Proops about the upcoming show.
Eric Schelkopf: You are probably best known as an improvisational comedian on the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Why do you like being on that show?
Greg Proops: It’s opened up a whole world for me. I can’t say enough about how it has opened every door for me as far as being a comedian.
I’ve worked with Ryan Stiles from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” for over 20 years now. We’re getting on to 25 years. He’s just a pleasure to work with. He’s so professional. It’s just fun. We make each other laugh, and we really try to hit the stage as hard as we can.
All in all, it’s been a positive experience. I got lucky and ended up on a show [that] ran for 14 years, and then out of nowhere, 10 years later, we’re back on the air again. What are the chances?
Schelkopf: What is the difficulty in doing improvisational comedy?
Proops: There’s really not much difficulty. Making the stuff up is fun for us.
We like flying by the seat of our pants, and we like the challenge of the audience yelling stuff out. Really, the difficulty is making it as funny as possible and not disappointing yourself.
Schelkopf: So, is that it, you are playing off the rest of the cast and the audience, and it just comes naturally to you?
Proops: I don’t think anything comes naturally for anyone. I think you have to work at all these things. It’s like saying someone is a natural athlete. That doesn’t acknowledge they put in the time.
I have been doing this for over 30 years, so I put the time in and probably perform 200 to 300 days a year.
When I was in college, I went to see an improv group, and I said to myself, “I can do that.” And I had never done improv at that point. And I went the next week and I volunteered to be in a sketch, and then they offered me to be in the group.
Schelkopf: So, what should people expect from the live show? Because you’re live, is there more pressure on you guys?
Proops: Well, we’re big and loud. And we hit the stage running.
We’re not shy and retiring. We’re putting on a big show with lots of music. We sing, we jump around. It’s funny.
So, there’s that. And also, there’s way more audience interaction than on TV.
We have volunteers coming out of the crowd. We’re really an audience show. We’re about what the audience wants to see, and we’re about bringing the audience up and putting them in the show. I think you’ll find it’s a lot more exciting. Everyone is involved. Everything is based on audience suggestions.
Schelkopf: Your weekly podcast, “The Smartest Man in the World,” has been called “some of the boldest comedy on the podcasting frontier.” Did you expect such accolades?
Proops: No, I don’t go out looking for the accolades. The podcast is my baby, so I can be as opinionated as I want. And I’m very, very opinionated about politics and feminism and the class war and the rich and all that.
It’s a different bag. It’s really worked out for me. It’s been such a labor of love, and it’s just me on my own.
My wife and I really put the whole thing on. I get about 60,000 downloads a week, so I do pretty well.
Schelkopf: As far as inspiration for your comedy, where do you get it from?
Proops: All around me. I’m full of anger. I’m furious with the way the world is going.
And there’s plenty in the newspapers and on the Internet to keep me busy. I find inspiration every moment, one in how beautiful people can be. The podcast has struck such a chord with people that I couldn’t be happier about that.
And then all the “Who’s Line” people, they all love us. We’re not characters to them.
So, I really feel lucky like that, that I get to be myself. I think that people are beautiful and that they have to fight always against what the interests of the rich are.
The world does not have to be the way they want it to be. And that’s always my message to everybody.