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 Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert

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PostSubject: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 13:30

I took this from a site...I hope that's okay. Embarassed Somebody please correct me if it isn't, and I'll change it to a link (or something like that).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Whose Line is it anyway? alumni improvise their way to Edmonton

It’s hard to believe Ryan Stiles when he says he’s an introverted person. Not that the lanky comedian seems like the untrustworthy sort—he’s actually quite earnest for someone who’s made his living making fun. Just that, well, his history doesn’t exactly pan that out.

Born in Seattle and raised in Vancouver, Stiles first stepped on to the funny stages in his teens, touring comedy clubs and strip joints across Western Canada. Eventually he found a spot with the famed Second City comedy troupe, first in Toronto before eventually landing in Los Angeles.

His stellar work on the LA stages led to arguably his biggest break: a trip over the pond for a featured spot on the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? Stiles spent 15 years on both the British and American versions, earning an Emmy nomination in 2002, in between landing another prime gig as Drew’s decidedly unstable friend Lewis on The Drew Carey Show.

In short, Stiles has been performing for people since before his adult life started—not exactly the trademark of the reserved. Still, though, as he tells it, once he steps off the stage, he’s much more comfortable around a few close friends.

“I get kind of nervous when I’m in crowds—I get a little claustrophobic, and I’d much rather hang out with a few people at a small party than anything bigger,” Stiles explains from his home in LA, a burg that doesn’t exactly jibe with his more withdrawn tendencies (his regular home is outside Seattle). “When I was nominated for an Emmy four years ago, I didn’t even go—I stayed home and watched a rerun of The Fugitive. That’s just not my thing.”

Not that anyone looking forward to his upcoming turn at the Winspear with fellow Whose Liners Greg Proops, Jeff Davis and Chip Esten need worry about Stiles’s reserved side coming through. As he explains, as much as crowds aren’t his thing, for him the stage is something else entirely.

“I’m not really all that big on television or film, but if I don’t get up on the stage once in a while, I get a bit nutty,” Stiles says with an easy laugh. “The stage is definitely different from real life. Up there you can be anybody you want, or do anything you want. That’s what’s great about it—I don’t have to be me.”

More than anything, though, Stiles has just come to love the art of improv. Although he admits that he’s not really surprised by anything thrown his way anymore—he has been at it for the better part of 20 years, after all—the nature of the business keeps him on his toes and gives him a rush so that no other kind of acting, or comedy, really fits.

“Acting is great for paying the bills and making a living, but it doesn’t really compare to the feeling,” he admits. “It’s really hard to go wrong on a sitcom, because you can do it as many times as you want, and you’ve got 14 writers over your shoulder, too. It’s riskier in improv, which makes it way more fun.”

Although, truth be told, for a guy like Stiles, it also helps to have a few of your friends on stage with you—really, it’s the best of all worlds.

“This is the only time I get to see these guys, maybe eight or ten times a year, so it’s nice to get together with them,” he says. “We generally have fun on stage, and the audience sees that you’re having fun, and I think that’s as big as anything.”

Here's the link: http://www.vueweekly.com/articles/default.aspx?i=3973
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 15:14

Wow. When you thought you read every article that is online about a person another one pops up.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 15:35

Yep. Very Happy Here's another:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Whose Life is it Anyway?

You know Ryan Stiles. He spent nine years playing Drew Carey's tall goofy pal Lewis on The Drew Carey Show and 13 more performing on the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, first on British television and later on the American version. When that show ended in 2004, Stiles happily let go of his Hollywood career and made his way to the tiny town of Custer, Wash., where he lives with his family.

Though he’s content watching his kids grow up and tending a local improv theater he’s founded in nearby Bellingham, Wash., Stiles allows a bit of touring into his not-so-hectic lifestyle. He recently spoke to SN&R by phone from a tour bus making its way to California (and eventually to Sacramento for A Night of Improv on June 3).

When asked if he might return to Hollywood after his kids are raised, Stiles answered, “I probably will. In 10 years, Oprah will do the Drew reunion show. I don’t know really. I’ve never planned anything in my career.”

That unplanned career started early. Stiles dropped out of high school and used fake IDs to perform stand-up comedy in bars as a teenager. He soon discovered improv, and he’s never looked back. “I don’t really miss stand-up,” Stiles admitted. “Stand-up was: You had to write your jokes, and people realized that, so there was more of a ‘make me laugh’ attitude. With improv, the audience is part of the act, so they want you to succeed.”

Stiles joined the acclaimed Second City improv troupe, first in Toronto and then as a member of the Los Angeles cast. Next came Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the popular British television show that made Stiles a star. He later co-produced and starred in a wildly successful stateside version.

Where Saturday Night Live created a buzz in the 1970s by returning television comedy to a dangerous live format, Whose Line took things a step further by abandoning scripts and truly creating an anything-can-happen environment. Of course, being pre-recorded, anything can be cut as well. Were viewers shown the best 30 minutes of a six-hour taping?

“You have to keep in what doesn’t work, or people don’t believe it,” Stiles said. “It was pretty consistent. We would tape about two-and-half hours, doing about 20 or 25 games, but we got two--maybe three--shows out of each episode. They’d only give us 10 [live] shows, but they knew they’d get 25 or 30 out of that.”

Ryan’s hilarious presence on Whose Line led to work in commercials and guest spots on American TV, culminating in his casting as the lovable goof Lewis on The Drew Carey Show in 1995.

Nine years later, when both The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line were canceled by ABC, Stiles was ready to leave Los Angeles and the tube behind. “I really could care less about TV and film right now because I don’t think anything good is being done,” he said. “You don’t have to work hard at your craft to be on TV anymore.”

Stiles is not a fan of the reality-television trend. “I was asked to do the first Dancing with the Stars,” he admitted. He passed up the opportunity to take his place among the “real.” When it comes to comedians on television, Stiles prefers stand-up comedy pioneer Shelley Berman’s frequent appearances as a judge on Boston Legal. “He’s great. He’s very funny. I do a radio show, and he comes on. I see him about once a month.”

Because you're not likely to see Stiles splashing across a movie screen or making a cameo on your favorite sitcom, A Night of Improv is a rare opportunity to see this inventive funnyman’s quick wit at work. Stiles and fellow tour-mates Greg Proops (British Whose Line is it Anyway? and Bob the Builder), Chip Esten and Jeff B. Davis will perform a 90-minute show based entirely on audience suggestion. A Night of Improv will play only 10 shows this summer, all on the West Coast, as Stiles does not like to fly.

After so many years of balancing two television shows, Stiles keeps his workload as light as possible. “I’m just taking time off being with my kids,” he said. “I’m enjoying staying home and watching them grow up a bit.”

Does he miss the rush of performing comedy? “I have no problem as long as I get onstage,” he replied. “I actually opened up a theater in Bellingham: The Upfront. I built it from scratch. We have groups come in from everywhere.”

Running a small theater is certainly a big shift from the hustle of Hollywood. “There’s so much in L.A., and it’s kind of a different attitude. Back east, no one was thinking about TV, but in L.A., someone’s always getting picked up for TV. In Bellingham, nobody’s doing it to get on TV.”

There, people just regard him as “the actor guy.” “I usually get ‘You look like that guy on Whose Line’ or ‘You look like that guy on Drew,” Stiles said.

Stiles still likes to take in local improv troupes in the cities he visits. “I love improv on that level, and it’s growing. Fifteen years ago, there weren’t improv troupes in every town. I don’t know how much Whose Line has to do with that, but I’d like to think we helped that along.”

Brian Crall, director of Sacramento’s Free Hooch Comedy Troupe, agrees. “Every summer I teach improv at Sac State,” he explained, “and all we have to put in the description of the class is that we are going to play games like those games on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and the classes automatically fill up, with a waiting list. They all know who Ryan Stiles is.”

“From Sacramento, S.F., up through Portland is a real hotbed for improv,” Stiles said, adding that San Francisco audiences tend to be family crowds. That’s not surprising, since Stiles’ co-star Proops is the voice of Bob the Builder, an animated children’s television favorite.

“We love kids in the audience,” Stiles said. “We try to keep our show clean. ... It’s not like stand-up, where you say the F-word every few seconds.” Stiles illustrated by saying the word five or six times.

“It’s the easiest way to get a laugh, to be dirty,” he admitted. “We know there are kids in our crowd. The last thing we want is to go blue. When I started, I used to do that; you go through all kinds of styles. It’s all a matter of how much confidence you have onstage. If you enjoy what you do onstage, you don’t have to go dirty. If you’re funny, you’re funny.”

The dedicated father then pointed out how difficult it is to find appropriate comedy CDs for his preteen son. He mentioned Jerry Seinfeld as a favorite exception before reminiscing about the classic comedy albums he once listened to as he drifted off to sleep each night: Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart. He was also a big fan of The Carol Burnett Show, particularly Tim Conway. “That was the great thing about doing Drew; we got to work with a lot of those guys,” Stiles enthused.

Though the show is over, work with his heroes continues. “I got a call about two months ago from my manager: ‘Ryan, I know you’re not looking for work, but I couldn’t say no to this. There’s no money in it, but Jonathan Winters wants you to come play miniature golf with him while his crew films it.’” The delight in his voice was audible as he described working with Winters, the king of improvisational comedy. “He’s always in character; he’s insane. I love the guy.”

Stiles is no longer a television star, but he’s traveling around the country with good friends, playing poker on the bus all day and making comedy at night, spending time with family and practicing improv at his own small theater. Occasionally, he plays a few rounds of miniature golf with one of the funniest men who ever lived. Not bad for an unplanned career.

Link: http://ww3.newsreview.com/issues/sacto/2006-06-01/arts.asp
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 15:49

Read that article a few weeks back Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 16:15

Aww...I thought I got you! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 17:11

You got me with the first one but not the second one. Try again Wink.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 19:42

Uhh..okay, how about this?!

OFF THE TELLY: IN A STYLE OF MY CHOOSING...
Matthew Rudd on Whose Line is it Anyway?

Improv. At first sight, it's little more than a ghastly, lethargic abbreviation which could almost be accessible to a text-messaging teenager; while those of a restricted coolness factor could be forgiven for incorrectly guessing its full form.

But of course, it became the watchword about a "new" form of comedy in the mid-1980s; comedy which was off-the-cuff, instant, brought about not through painstaking observation and meticulous scribbling and underlining, but through one measly audience suggestion to start the ball rolling. And off they would go.

Improvisation, to give it the full billing, was absolutely massive for a decade in the UK from about 1987 onwards. With new ventures within established comedy venues encouraging the make-it-up medium, performers with the confidence (and death wish) to test their God-given humour rather than their poured-over humour in front of bellowing audiences happily wandered into the light with literally no idea of what they were going to say.

The concept of spontaneity was, of course, never a new one in that era; various performers had been using their own forms of the genre to suit their own ends, even if it was just to cover up garbled speech, deal with a heckle or, in the case of an actor, deflect the attention from a cock-up. Meanwhile, Billy Connolly spent - and continues to spend - nigh on 30 years improvising an entire stand-up act, famously choosing never to write down a single word of his material, but just recall the subject matter and see where his mood - and the audience - takes him.

But when the Comedy Store Players, a mish-mash of humorists, writers (with wonderful contradiction) and comedic actors, set the stall out, a craze was born to fill the trendiness gap vacated by the tiring Comic Strip era and still awaiting The Mary Whitehouse Experience. And soon the telly was involved.

Initially, the wordily-named Whose Line is it Anyway? was a radio vehicle, starring a gaggle of usual suspects of the Fry, Laurie and French ilk. But producers Hat Trick took it successfully to Channel 4, whose remit at the time, particularly for Friday nights, seemed to consist entirely of programmes which had as much uncertainty as they had originality.

It was a promisingly straightforward concept - mix comedy with game show and sprinkle in a few dustings of controversy and timeliness. The roll call of the contestants - so called despite there being no genuine contest - matched C4's emphasis on "new talent", and a host of unknowns successfully auditioned and starred, with the odd Cook and Rhys-Jones cameo just for the sheer hell of it.

Where the show succeeded was in national mood-tapping. Despite a scheduling in an ungodly hour when most of its target audience was out on the razz, the unsubtlety, chaos and unpredictability of conceptual comic games became a huge hit by the time the wheat and chaff separating process had unearthed a hardcore list of participants. Clive Anderson, a genial and balding host with a writing and legal background, smirked and smarmed his way through the only scripts of the show in his continuity, while resident contestant John Sessions, previously known for his voice-only role on Spitting Image, impressed the many with his use of language, incomparable take-offs of every single theatrical style the world has seen and impish clever-clogs attitude.

But as a scratchy and untried televisual genus, problems had to be encountered; not least because the whole idea of improv (and half the humour from it) was that it could go belly up very easily, very quickly and very embarrassingly.

The problem quickly identified within improvised games was that it took someone very, very special to get laughs, as opposed to inciting a favourable reaction merely in response to the swiftness of their thought process. Every improviser who stepped into the Whose Line is it Anyway? bearpit were highly courageous, highly motivated and unspeakably daredevil. Few were funny.

Sessions was not funny in the definitive sense of the word. He was intelligent, bright, talkative, scene-stealing and engaging. But it soon became clear that his form of improvisation - using big words, reaching for the surreal plot change as often as possible, not letting fellow participants get a word in - was causing belly laughs of admiration. Maybe it was admiration for his sheer nerve, for his shameless elitism, but it wasn't for his comedy.

There was no doubt that Sessions was a mainspring for the show's stranglehold on the majority of minority channel viewers. He was rewarded with official resident status by having his name inserted alongside the host's in the closing credits (read in the style of a taxi driver or a 1930's radio announcer by the alleged weekly "winner" thanks to a nonsensical, even non-existent scoring tally kept by Anderson) with the remaining trio trailing a good paragraph's distance in his wake. By the time series three came around in 1990, he'd gone. But the show, for all its gratitude towards its Scottish star turn, just got stronger in his absence.

The genuine star of the early seasons was a heftily-built American actor, singer and raconteur called Mike McShane. He was, anatomically, comedy in human form - considerably obese with unkempt hair and often sporting a similarly bedraggled beard, but still elegantly dressed, absolutely charming and totally unhateable. He was also massively talented and would go on to be the only participant who had no gaming weakness. Though his spoken games, especially alongside sardonic, bespectacled fellow American comic Greg Proops (whose own idiosyncrasies are explored further on), were invariably sharp, concise and delivered with a frequently natural conclusion, it was in the much more daunting singing games - the bane of an enormous percentage of the contestants' stints - where McShane excelled.

These games - always accompanied by multi-faceted improv musician Richard Vranch - were, to the hooked viewer, always a highlight, and the group collective singsong was unfailingly used as a crescendo to an episode. But McShane was also afforded an individual's singing game - Song Styles - in which Vranch would provide accompaniment in a musical style suggested by a studio audience member (almost always opera or reggae in the early days) while McShane made up the words there and then on any subject also shouted from the seats.

McShane never failed to find a rhyme, never failed to find a plot to the story, never resorted to "oh yeah"-esque fillers to account for syntactical or structural deficiencies and - most crucially - never failed to be funny. His vocal work was enormously impressive, veering worryingly towards perfection, something which improvisation never sought, expected or needed. However, McShane's lack of roughness around the edges never gave rise to any nudge-nudge grumbles about rehearsal - his integrity was always way ahead of that in the race. His skill was also useful as the last verse of the collective song (a march or gospel, generally), as at least two of the previous three contributions regularly were delivered on a rhyme-at-all-costs basis, with humour treated merely as a bonus. On top of all that, McShane could sing.

Compare this with the other established specialist singer in the early days, the grating Birmingham actress Josie Lawrence. Unfairly detailed with the "token female" role in the embryonic days, she too was ceaselessly utilised in the singing games but, unlike McShane, reverted constantly to rhymes which were coming from a mile away, struggled to muster the right amount of syllables per line, and dissolved any potential for lyrical dexterity with an all too habitual usage of fillers, her favourite being "I love you baby". With McShane, you gasped in awe at every word leading to a killer rhyme; with Lawrence, you impatiently waited for the rhyme and ignored or bemoaned the build-up.

Lawrence's hugely restricted aptitude as an improvisational singer did not, however, stop her from gaining massive plaudits for her work. So new and "now" was the improv phenomenon, and so relenting were the extra gushes of wonderment at those who dared make up songs rather than prose, that Lawrence was afforded heroine status within comedy and TV as a whole on the apparent strength of her appearances on Whose Line is it Anyway?, when in truth all she'd done was stick together a series of basic rhymes, lacking substantially in humour, using poorly-worded prose as a dubious adhesive. She even got her own TV series, in which she - yes - made up a song with Vranch at the end, after 26 minutes of very weak skits. And she, unlike McShane, couldn't sing. Still, at least on the prosaically titled Josie, the undervalued Vranch got to speak.

The discrepancy between humour and admiration avoided magnificently by McShane and bombarded tiresomely by Lawrence highlighted that fundamental problem supplied by improv, with audiences laughing consistently and vehemently, but not necessarily realising why they were doing so. Scriptless performing, with the aim of raising titters, had a worthy sentiment, but at this stage, only McShane had the self-belief and sheer talent to carry it out. Others would later join him.

One of those others was not, however, Greg Proops, the consummate, chatty and incisive American stand-up comedian, forever described in Anderson intros as the Buddy Holly/Elvis Costello/Eric Morecambe/Chris Evans of comedy because of his conspicuous spectacles. He enjoyed a long and unbroken association with the show that continues to this day in the States, yet his own improvisational might was tempered eternally by, with bizarre irony, the rules of improvisation itself. Or, more specifically, the rules of Whose Line is it Anyway?

Watch or listen to Proops reeling off his stand-up act and you'll see an expert in action, handling a vociferous, unforgiving audience with wild enthusiasm, sarcasm and bite. Heckle him and you'll regret it. Argue with him and you'll lose. This is because Proops is a gangplank walker in comedy - he doesn't need his own vehicle, as he has the skill and presence of mind to be the vehicle itself. Proops is undoubtedly grateful for the exposure that Whose Line is it Anyway? gave him, but it did nothing for his own comic sensibilities other than restrict them.

In any spoken game, participants had to talk about a certain subject, or be a certain person/creature, or do so in a certain fashion, or deploy certain mannerisms. While this allowed for great character acting from the more theatrical charges, for Proops it was a bind. Not an actor until his comedy made him a name, Proops just needed to be Proops - anyone else was an unnecessary millstone.

This was never more evident than when one of the accustomed play-spats between Proops and Anderson occurred as games were being announced or trailed by the host. Time and time again the two exchanged verbal blows, with Proops - the only regular guest who spoke to the host on an episode-by-episode basis - often coming out on top, exposing Anderson to insults about the compère's unhideable receding hairline or rapidly evaporating neck. Beyond that, Proops swung the audience his way while necessary props were being sorted onstage with his use of language - demonstrative, flowery, intellectual but - brilliantly - never containing expletives. Yet when the games got underway, Proops often found his style stifled by the regulations of the game and the occasionally demonic habits under the lights from some of his peers. Proops was an outstanding natural comedian for whom acted improvisation was not a natural gift, and he suffered for it. Yet his gamely nature, genuine star quality and off-beat looks continues to keep him in appearance monies to this day.

Still, it's better to be a misplaced funny man in improvisation than a misplaced unfunny one, and that's where Tony Slattery waltzes into the equation. The chirpy, laddish Footlights veteran was a genuine unknown when he started an eight-year tenure on the show, and became the most prized British asset in its history without ever threatening to be any good at all.

Slattery had two problems, one caused by the other. Firstly, despite his acting training, he rarely managed to perform with an infinitely funnier counterpart without collapsing into juvenile giggles every other line, ruining the sketch's potential and probably irritating the hell out of the professional (and often American) contestant dragged on to the stage alongside him. Consequently, the stop-start nature of most of his work led him into desperate nosedives towards jokes of vulgarity, tastelessness or shock in a last-ditch attempt to appear humorous and salvage the sketch.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 19:44

Part 2:
This got laughs from the audience, who found him immensely likeable within the restricted zone of improv, but did next to nothing for the good of the medium, or indeed for its potential for progress. While genial, hardworking and humble bit-parters (Jim Sweeney, Steve Steen, Stephen Frost, Sandi Toksvig) realised their limits and concentrated hard on the humour stakes, Slattery's ego and willingness to play the court jester earned him words of ridicule from peers and critics alike, none more so than when his ubiquity on TV as a result of his appearances led him to receive a Bore award from Private Eye - against no other candidates. Frequently a joke was cracked at his expense within the show itself, culminating in a memorable occasion when Rory Bremner was given the party quirk (three guests with specific characteristics; one host - Slattery - with the job of guessing) of being Slattery himself, and spent his short spell onstage preening at the camera. On another occasion, three participants - Slattery being the exception - were declared joint winners and were asked to read the credits as Slattery, cue 30 seconds of references to bodily parts and functions.

As Whose Line is it Anyway? trundled through the early '90s, connections were made with America, and two UK series were quickly followed by tailor-made cross-Atlantic versions, with an unchanged set and host, an archetypal whoop 'n' wave audience and a new breed of improvisers. British interests in contestants' row were represented, unwisely, by Sessions and Lawrence - the former to symbolise the American concept of Britishness; the latter as token female and to provide an onscreen singer for when McShane wasn't on. Toskvig also went along, mainly due to her known chemistry onset with McShane. The New York shows worked - just. McShane was outstanding, Proops had his own people on his side for once - but the "two tall guys" who appeared during the second Stateside stint were the ones whose displays were to take the show to its next, elevated height, finally allowing it to merit a label of greatness, yet ultimately, leading it to its downfall.

Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie had separately appeared before on the UK version, but only once each, when fewer games were played and when, essentially, they were doing a taped audition. Neither were especially memorable debuts, though Mochrie certainly had his moments. But in America you need Americans - or, more loosely, North Americans - and with only McShane and Proops on the regular Stateside cast list by the time the show popped over the pond, more were summoned and this pairing were among them.

Stiles, an LA comic of six feet six and a lugubrious comic face, was instantly brilliant. In the first batch of New York episodes, he did four of them, notably upstaging the complicated Sessions with ease in one edition when paired in a Props round and given a scythe to improvise with. Sessions had misread the audience and proceeded to recreate his long-winded and very British monologue style which got muted reactions, while Stiles went straight for the comic jugular. While Sessions was using the scythe as a symbol of historical or mythical being which went over 99% of heads, Stiles used it as a bird's beak and shark's fin and got on the spot acclaim. Indeed, Sessions ended up accidentally snapping the prop in two, which indirectly took the emphasis away from his co-performer.

Stiles knew the audience, knew his own considerable strengths and stuck resolutely to them. A great character comic, he dominated scenes without ever hogging them, reacted with panache and promptness when a co-performer would unexpectedly change tack, and never failed to get at least one humour-based belly laugh per skit. He struggled on the singing games occasionally, but this only further enhanced his appeal as he eagerly found rhymes with an apologetic shrug of the shoulders. His quartet of initial New York guestings got him an invitation back to the UK for the next season, and those appearances fast-tracked him to the status of the show's core star.

By the time the second and final New York stint came around, Canadian humorist Colin Mochrie was also getting another run of shows. Mochrie didn't quite have Stiles' natural wit or comic looks, but he quickly established himself as a magnificent foil, unafraid to make the scenes between himself and Stiles - of which there were plenty - almost a contest between the two men themselves. This resulted in some genuinely quality performances, packed with jokes, inspiring the right kind of reactive laughter and setting the seal on a great double act. The two had worked together before in various comedy troupes, though had never been a double act in the same way as - for example - Sweeney and Steen had been. While Stiles and Mochrie shone alone and with others, it was when they were together that the standard of improvisation was truly electric, and so Mochrie also got a ticket to Britain.

Others from those New York try-outs weren't so impressive. Local double act Jim Meskimen and Christopher Smith, from the highly-respected Interplay group, were extremely polished, confident and likeable, but not funny enough. The vocally-charged Archie Hahn, while a genius at making sound effects for the game of the same name, was way out of his depth on too many occasions - more so, remarkably, than he had been when given occasional gigs in the show's earliest days. He was also prone to bouts of political incorrectness, and notoriously incurred the genuine wrath of Anderson when he used some surreptitious castanets during an Audition game to soundtrack his tap-dancing. The host curtly docked him some of his imaginary points, pointing out that the show was about improvisation, not forward-thinking. Falsetto-pitched American comic George McGrath, on a hiding to nothing in an episode alongside Stiles, Proops and McShane, failed to deliver a single worthy joke. One-off pairing Sam Johnson and Jane Brucker - who memorably wore a jacket without trousers - were way off the pace. Balding cardigan-wearer Ron West epitomised the notion of the fourth contestant, forever in the shadows of the big guns without ever truly allowing himself to seep into the foreground. Telegenic performer Brad Sherwood was stoic without being spectacular, but was handed a recall in later years which worked. The only other American who was kept on was British-based anyway, the handsome star of the Buddy musical Chip Esten, but after one UK and a handful of USA appearances, he had stage commitments and would only appear once more over the next few years. He had the potential to eclipse McShane's versatility as a performer equally as adept with singing and speaking specialities, but was unavailable to carry it through.

Still, Stiles and Mochrie bedded into the UK and with Proops also in tow, a basis was formed for several incumbent seasons of the show. McShane had been noticed by other outlets, therefore his appearances became less frequent until he essentially became a cameo turn, due to a wave of offers on the big screen, so an opportunity was taken to scale down the number of performers. In essence, the show was now about Stiles, Mochrie, Proops and - sadly - Slattery, who was still a misguidedly big hit with audiences. The likes of Frost and Lawrence kept butting in to add variety to the pattern, and barring the odd one-off cameo or tryout, that was it.

This was unquestionably the golden era of both Whose Line is it Anyway? and improvisation in general. The viewing figures rocketed, the day of screening was altered to a midweek - though it remained at 10pm or later - and the contestants began to become known specifically for their role in the show ahead of anything else they did. The games were freshened up, the pace was quickened, and Stiles became a resident performer, with Mochrie getting around 95% of episodes too. These two had become the show's crux and bankability, and it was obvious to see why. The whole genre benefitted thanks to regular improvisation workshops around the country - suddenly, you couldn't move at the Edinburgh Fringe for "improthons" - and with the Players - still including Lawrence, Sweeney, Vranch and the deadpan mastery of Paul Merton - continually ruling the roost by doing twice-weekly gigs in spite of countless other commitments. Merton had been another star of the show's early days alongside Sessions, and had the ability to reduce audiences and fellow participants to hysterical jelly without barely trying, but he missed the show's establishment as a comic force thanks to Hat Trick's sister show Have I Got News For You which made him one of the UK's genuine stars of the decade.

Still, in the event of Stiles or Mochrie - or both - giving up the ghost, further performers were called in, with varying degrees of success. Merton's ex-wife Caroline Quentin, an established comic actress, was an instant hit with panel and public alike, but the desire to recruit another male singing specialist in the absence of McShane and Esten failed, with British comic journeyman Niall Ashdown lacking in star quality, despite a risibility to his work and a vital keenness to take nothing too seriously.

There was, for a run of two or three seasons of Stiles and Mochrie, no stopping Whose Line is it Anyway? But even though it peaked magnificently under their spell, its fall from grace can also be traced to them. The UK struggled to find enough variety and skill amongst other performers to provide a worthy alternative to the two tall guys when they were sitting in their chairs. This was not helped when Slattery, awash with personal issues and a weight problem, got just too off-the-wall for the liking of the show's hierarchy and had his long stint as a leading asset brought to an end. He wasn't seen in the public eye for quite some time afterwards, and tales of his slide into depression and addiction later unfurled. For all his faults and shortcomings, Slattery remained a popular contestant on the show, yet a constant thorn in the side of those within it and the public in general. His demise was a crucial, but not all-compassing, factor of the show's own sinking. The main problem lay, however, with Stiles and Mochrie.

Whether it was Lawrence and Bremner; Frost and Sherwood; or Proops and Ashdown filling the remaining chairs, Stiles and Mochrie had so much become the show's epitome and domineering force that the pressure was heaping on everyone else involved to match them as consummate performers; and no one could. Moreover, there was now no British performer on this British show who could appear on a regular basis, due to a lack of availability, skill or both. The expertise of Stiles and Mochrie had unwittingly highlighted everyone else's comparative incompetence. And there was no move towards giving the two leading gentlemen a break, even for one episode, as any edition without both of them would have been pale in comparison. Last-ditch attempts at celebrity cameo went horribly wrong, with Stephen Fry appearing bored; Ardal O'Hanlon scared out of his wits and George Wendt cut down to size in an unpleasant experience for die-hard Cheers fans who had seen his name in the listings and tuned in. Only the maverick Eddie Izzard came up trumps in the cameo slot, but his own stand-up act was known as being 60% improvised so his occupation of the comfort zone was unsurprising. Filming of the show in the UK was cancelled after slightly more than a decade.

The next step was to return to the States, but this time in LA with an American team in production, and only Anderson remaining as a cursory element of continuity from the British halcyon days. This meant all the performers were American, and suddenly there was an opportunity to recreate the show as brand new, thanks to the continued inspiration of Stiles and Mochrie, a new-found surge from Proops and the discovery, at last, of the successor in the singing and speaking stakes of McShane. The chap in question was young American performer Wayne Brady, a jolly, keen and perceptive comic whose brilliance at producing instantaneous comic songs was heightened further by a trained voice with which to sing them. At last, the ghost of McShane was laid to rest, but this rebranding didn't sit well with British audiences, and the later time slot hindered ratings further. As far as the UK was concerned, Whose Line is it Anyway? was dead in the water.

But with Stiles taking on a determined Red Adair role, the show was purchased and relaunched as a States-only vehicle with a new host, new games and a new audience. It is also screened there at peak time, making it prone to censorship and scurrilous editing, and indeed most North American members of the ever-growing Whose Line is it Anyway? international fan club weren't keen, but took the attitude that it was better than nothing and at least still had Stiles and Mochrie onside. That second element nearly didn't happen, with American executives, obsessed with image, wanting Mochrie obliterated from the new production, and only relenting when Stiles rightly kicked up an enormous stink and threatened to pull the plug on the whole thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 19:44

Ugh...Part 3:

Brady and Proops - who has now completed a 14 year association with the show - were also kept on, with Sherwood too getting regular slots. The show now has three "regulars" per episode - Stiles and Mochrie as permanent fixtures, Proops or Brady filling a third seat - with the quartet completed by either Sherwood or a guest turn, often an unknown, and always someone depicting a rabbit-in-headlights disposition.

For Americans, it works. Channel 4 only show it in the UK as a cancellation-filler, or as a lazily-allocated half-hour in the middle of the night between the main film and the French art movie. The games have been largely sanitised for American consumption, the bleeps are overused and over-cautious and the contestants are generally not firing on all cylinders, but generally it has a decent effect. Until you see the new ending.

One natural progression when the show upped sticks and emigrated was the appointment of a new host. Drew Carey took on the gig, but as a powerful figure within the production company, he got more involved onscreen than was necessary. Anderson's brilliance came from his own 10 seconds between each game, but never once did he leave his seat and try to upstage those in the bearpit. His declared "winner" got the chance to exhibit their individual improvisational skills by reading the credits in a style allocated by Anderson. Carey's declared winner got a prize of ... performing with Carey himself.

The rotund host, who also deployed an immensely irritating catchphrase of "the points don't matter", leapt on to the stage to perform with the winner or winners, while another contestant took his place and read the game card to them. The game would be one of the heritage rounds, like Alphabet or a Hoedown (the all-in musical successor to March and Gospel), but invariably, Carey was absolutely awful. It was an occupational hazard to the rest, but to the audience, it largely failed, although the whooping studio punters lapped it up with their usual overreaction anyway. Traditionalists buried their heads in their hands when this final Americanisation got through to them for the first time.

On it goes, with the British show seemingly lost forever except amongst those who were in it (many of whom are still tagged in the tabloids as "the star of Whose Line is it Anyway?" despite whatever else they've done, and indeed, whether they deserve the accolade in the first place) and those who took it through their adolescence and kept it close to heart in adulthood. When comedy continued to evolve and improv was no longer the "in" thing, Whose Line is it Anyway? made a damned good attempt to keep the genre alive, and it succeeded to the end. It remains, however, a shame and a sham that the ending in question was so callous and limp.

Totalling up the points, we see that American television executives were the winners.

Link: http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/comedy/improv.htm

(P.S. I'm a Pleb now! Very Happy booze banana)
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 20:11

Nope haven't read that one yet neither.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 20:23

Currently I'm out of harder-to-find interviews....so I'll stop. If anyone has an interview, post it!! Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 20:50

This is the article where my dreams of Ryan and his wife having s*x started.












Copyright 1994 Associated Newspapers, Ltd.

Daily Mail (London)

July 9, 1994

The Comedian

A Question of Sex

Byline: Lester Middlehurst

Comedian Ryan Stiles, 35, has lived with his wife, Patricia for 14 years and they have a two-

year-old daughter, Mackenzie. He talks to Lester Middlehurst about life and love.

Who was your first girlfriend?

Wendy Sanders, who I was at school with in Richmond, British Columbia, when I was 14.

When did you have your first sexual relationship?

With Wendy when I was 15. I can't really remember how I felt because it all flashed by in about 30 second. Fear is the one emotion that sticks in my mind.

Is love-making better when it is within a marriage?

It's never going to be the same as it was at the beginning...but at least you get the chance to do it twice and make up for your mistakes.

Have you ever been unfaithful while in a relationship?

Yes, but not since I've been with my wife, Patricia. I felt pretty bad about it at the time.

Could you forgive your wife if she was unfaithful?

Why, what have you heard? It would really depend on the circumstances. It would be hard to forgive her, but I think I would because I wouldn't want to have to take care of the children on my own.

What effect does having children have on your sex life?

It's hard to find the time to make love. Having children cuts down on a lot of things you can do, but they are certainly worth it.

Where is the most unusual place you have made love?

I'm not one of those 'in a plane' kind of people. I suppose it would have been at some girl's parents' house.

What was your funniest sexual experience?

My wife laughs all the time, so it's hard to narrow it down to one.

How often do you think about sex?

Maybe three times a day. I would rather watch a football game than think about sex.

What do you like to do immediately after making love?

Light up a cigarette or have something to eat.

How many sexual partners have you had?

Between 20 and 30.

Have you ever had a one-night stand?

Yes, when I was doing stand-up comedy round the clubs there was usually someone in the audience with whom I could go to bed. I didn't feel guilty about it unless they wanted to continue the relationship and I didn't.

Have you ever been romantically broken-hearted?

That's yet to come. I've had pretty good luck so far. I guess I've always been the jerk who broke other people's hearts.

Were you able to discuss sex with your parents?

If they asked, I was happy to help.

Will you discuss sex with your children?

I will probably be like my dad and avoid it at all costs. Hopefully, their mother will take over in that department.

What turns you on about a woman?

The fact that they exist and everything about them. I do like a sense of humour and a smile.

What turns you off about a woman?

When I'm talking to a woman and she thinks I'm just hitting on her.

What does your wife find most attractive about you?

My net income after tax.

Should men always make the first move?

No. I have never asked a girl to dance or out on a date. Even my wife asked me out on our first date. I was working at a comedy club in Vancouver and she was waitressing. She asked me out for a drink one night and about three or four dates later, she asked me out to the movies. She got fed up waiting for me to make the move.

Is promiscuity ever acceptable?

I suppose it's okay before you are married. But I would hate to be single now because there's a lot more stuff to watch out for than there was when I was dating.

Should prostitution be legalised?

Either that or be cheaper. Seriously, I think that if it was legalised the authorities would have better control over it.

What is the most erotic film you have ever seen?

Crimes Of Passion.

The most erotic book you have ever read?

The thing that sticks in my mind is that my mother used to get these National Geographic magazines when I was a child and that's where I saw my first breast.

When did you watch your first pornographic film?

When I was 22 with a bunch of guys, which rather defeated the purpose. I didn't watch it for very long. You don't exactly have to figure out the plot. Actually, I think women like pornographic films more than men do.

Have you ever had an AIDS test?

No, because I've been with my wife so long that I'm not worried about it and I'm not worried about her. If the day ever came that I was single again, then I might have one.

Would you ever pose naked for a woman's magazine?

No, because I'm not that proud of my body. I'm 6ft 5in tall, so I probably wouldn't fit anyway.

Who in, the public eye, do you think has sex appeal?

I'm a big Hayley Mills fan. She's turned me on since I was about ten and she still looks good.

Do you miss love-making if you go for long without it?

Yes. When I'm away from home it's usually because of work, so I try to get caught up in that. Otherwise I go jogging or walk the dog.

Ryan Stiles is one of the stars of Whose Line Is It Anyway? which is screened Channel 4 (Fridays, 10.30pm)

http://www.geocities.com/mooneyazul/ryanstiles/1.html
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sat 29 Jul - 21:48

I've read that one. It sort of freaked me out when he said he first had sex when he was 15. And 20-30 partners.

But then again, that makes him a bad boy. Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sun 30 Jul - 12:59

i read those already but awesome! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sun 30 Jul - 23:08

I'll try to post some more tomorrow. Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Sun 30 Jul - 23:22

Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Mon 31 Jul - 12:10

Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Mon 31 Jul - 13:27

ARRH!! You're puting me under pressure!!! Crazy

I'm still lookin...you're gonna have to wait! Very Happy

In the meantime, if you have an interview, post it so you can give me more time!
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Mon 31 Jul - 13:39

i'm looking for some Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Mon 31 Jul - 16:03

Don't expect me to find it very quickly, so don't wait on the interview like your life depends on it. Very Happy

I'm doing other stuff as well (non-Ryan).
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Tue 1 Aug - 8:48

Righto, I found a lot of interviews last night. Some of them are Colin and Brad.
So first I'll do the easy stuff:

http://www.celebritygolf.com/celebrity-profile.asp?ID=48#

Click on the green box thing at the bottom of the page to listen to the interview. I believe you need Windows Media Player. (This is the interview where Ryan says he's had Degenerative Disk Disease for 18 years. Shocked)
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Tue 1 Aug - 8:50

Short article bout Ryan:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ryan Stiles hates Los Angeles.
Sure, it made him famous. He's worked there for years, notably as Lewis Kiniski on "The Drew Carey Show." But he doesn't care if he ever works in the town again.

"Being away from (Los Angeles) makes you a lot more creative," he said in a phone interview from his dreaded part-time home in Los Angeles. "The idea is to live in L.A. to make enough money to get out of L.A."
Maybe his role in the movie "Hot Shots!" and its sequel didn't make him rich. But "Drew Carey" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" did. Now he can be choosy with the projects he accepts.
"I've kind of reached the point in my life where I don't need to work," he said. "That's a real luxury to have. I'm just really enjoying being home with (my family) for a change. And my wife's pretty happy I'm home, too. And she's something. She was with me when I made $200 a month."
But if there is one job Stiles loves – and can do outside L.A. – it's getting on stage.
"It's just the old: you need attention," he said. "I know I can't sit at home and do nothing. I need to get up and work once in a while."
Stiles is putting in a day at the office at 7 tonight at The Met with A Night of Improv, featuring "Whose Line" alums Chip Esten, Jeff B. Davis and Greg Proops.
Stiles has figured out a way to keep himself in show-business, stick close to his family, get on stage and avoid Los Angeles: It's called the Upfront Theatre in Bellingham, the town he and his family keep their primary residence. Stiles funded the improv theater after becoming aware of the multitude of improv students in the area that weren't getting a chance to perform in front of an audience.
Stiles made a deal with the locals: He creates the theater, and they run the place. Stiles also gets a hometown gig whenever he feels like it.
"The whole Northwest," he said, "everything from Portland to Seattle and Vancouver, that whole corner there is a whole hotbed for improv."
Stiles said he hasn't abandoned the notion of returning to a television series. He's working on a couple of scripts and would jump at the chance to appear on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or the next Christopher Guest movie. But right now, he's a bit busy making sure his son finishes his school year.
"I've never planned anything in my career," he said. "I'm not in any rush to do anything. But I need to get on stage."

Link: http://www.spokane7.com/culture/stories/?ID=3386
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Tue 1 Aug - 9:01

Colin interview--Part 1
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Colin Mochrie discusses Improv comedy and his current tour with Whose Line is it Anyway alum Brad Sherwood.

When did you develop an interest in comedy?
I was always a big fan of comedy. When I was a kid I would watch a lot of television. Dick Van Dyke Show, Andy Griffith. When I was in high school, I was dared by a friend to try out for a theater production, which I got, and when I got my first laugh I was hooked.
What theater production was this?
It was a play called The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch. It was a musical western. I think it's only performed in high schools. I've never heard of it being performed elsewhere.
Which part did you play?
I played the part of Mervyn Vale, the under taker.
Did you have a lot of stage time?
It was a supporting part, but I had enough. I'd come on, get my laugh, and leave.
What were you like in school?
I was a very quiet, studious, good kid. I wasn't a class clown in any way. I came out of my shell more once I started doing theater and announcements over the PA. I started little clubs here and there.
When did you first discover Improv?
When I was at theater school, I went with a friend for a play reading. Part of the reading was a demonstration of Improv. A thing called Theater Sports, which was started by an Englishman in Calgary who had combined sport elements and Improv. And I thought, "This look like it could be fun," and I've been doing it for twenty-five years now.
When did you first perform Improv in front of an audience?
1980. It was a Theater Sports game. It was the best feeling. Everything was just hitting on all cylinders and it was a great night.
What were the next couple of years like for you after that?
Improv became sort of a cult thing in Vancouver. It became really popular and we started doing our own productions. We did an improvised Hamlet, an improvised murder mystery, and then Expo came and I was doing like five different Improv shows there. Then I moved right after to Toronto and got involved with Second City. It was while I was there that the producers of Whose Line came through town auditioning people and I managed to get a spot on the show.
What were you doing at the time to support yourself financially?
Whatever came along. Second City was my main source of income. Through that I was getting TV commercials and small parts in whatever movies came through town.
Can you tell me more about Second City?
Ryan Stiles and I grew up in Vancouver together and we got involved in Improv at the same time. It was Ryan that recommended me to try out for Second City and, through that, the woman that auditioned me ended up being my wife. So, I really have a lot to thank Ryan for. He got me a job, a wife, and he also got me onto Whose Line. He's really an important part of my life.
While you were in Second City, what other people were you working with?
Mike Myers was there when I was there and a lot of the SCTV gang would drop in and do some Improv sets with us. It's such a great training ground for improvisers. You do the sketch show the main bulk of the evening and you do Improv afterward. I found doing Improv six nights a week helps you hone your skills. It's a muscle that you have to keep training.
Once you got involved in Whose Line you had to make the move to England to work on that?
The beauty of Whose Line is that it never took up a lot of time. For the British one we would go there for the summer, shoot six weekends, and that would be the season. And then when we did the American version it was three weekends because we would do thirty games in a taping and from that we can get three or four shows. It didn't take up a lot of time and it was always a lot of fun to do.
What changes have you noticed in Improv since you're started out?
I think that because of the success of Whose Line, Improv gained more notoriety. Everywhere we go not there's Improv troupes. What I love about it is that it keeps evolving. There are many types of Improv. It started off with the basic games and changed into long form Improv where you have someone up on stage and improvise their life story for the whole evening. As long as people have imaginations I think they'll find different ways of using Improv.
And what have you noticed about changes in comedy in general?
In a way, there's too much freedom. When comedy first started, on television and radio, because of constraints in language you had to work a little harder, I think. Now you can swear and say anything about anything. It makes it harder to be smarter about your comedy. You can find easier ways to get a laugh without getting any content. Of course, there are people who are brilliant that still do great comedy. Chris Rock and George Carlin still do great comedy.
Is standup something you had ever given consideration to?
No. My thing always was, "If I'm going to die, I want to die with friends around me." With Improv, the audience is such a big part of the show. All of the suggestions come from them and we have audience members on stage, so there's more of a stake in it for them. With standup, it's more us against them. The audience knows that the standup has written their material, they know that they think it's funny, so it's like, "You have to prove it to me." We have a little more leeway in Improv.
How many people go, do you think, to an Improv show wanting to be picked to go on stage?
There certainly is a large group who want to be picked and people who think, "Oh, I'll die if I get picked," and those seem to be the ones we do pick. We always make sure that they're comfortable on stage. We try to make it as easy as possible because they are such a big part of the show and you don't want the audience feeling uncomfortable. We try to make it as nice as possible; a happy experience.
How do you decide on who to bring up?
It's one of those things where a lot of it is a crapshoot. You just take your chances. What we've found that works is that we try to bring couples up. That way they're with someone that they know, so they're a little more relaxed. It's a fine line. You don't want to bring someone up who thinks that this is their big break and you don't want someone that freezes and won't do anything. So far we've had a pretty good success rate.
How did your collaboration with Brad Sherwood come about?
Brad and I have known each other for about sixteen years and once Whose Line was starting to wind down a bit he said that all of the other guys do their own things. Greg does standup, Wayne has his own thing, Drew has a lot of stuff, and we thought that it would be a challenge for just the two of us to go out on the road and do an improvised show. It's difficult with two. The ideal group is four or five, but we both love a challenge and I have to say that it's really worked out for us.
How did you come up with the idea for The World's Most Dangerous Improv Game?
That was Brad's idea. I don't know where he got it and why, but it's really a game that the audiences just love. There are one hundred live mousetraps, Brad and I are blind folded, barefoot, and we're doing a scene amongst them. It really is a stupid game, but the audiences love it.
Do you have a special arrangement with any mousetrap manufacturers?
We're thinking of trying to get Victor Mousetraps to sponsor us, but so far they're not biting.
On the Brad and Colin website, it mentions that you did a solo tour.
It does mention that. I don't know what that means. I've never done a solo tour.
Which Improv games do you enjoy?
It changes from night to night. Our thing is whichever one worked best that night is the one we enjoyed the most. There's two games that we have the most consistent fun with: Sound Effects, where we have two audience members provide the sound effects as we do the scene, and one called Sentences where the audience fills out pieces of paper and we do a scene where at various points what's written on those papers becomes the next line of dialog. Those two scenes work consistently for us and they seem to be the ones we have the most fun with.
Did most of these Improv games that people do now originate with Whose Line?
Improv's been around for a lot of years. Even before the original Second City started there were a lot of Improv games around. Most of the games from Whose Line are minor variations of games that have been around for a while. Even now Brad and I have games that we've never done on Whose Line and we're constantly trying to come up with new ways of doing things. There aren't a lot of games made for just two people. We're constantly on the look out for new material.
How long does one of your performances with Brad last?
Depending on what they want, an hour and a half to two and a half hours.
How do you prepare for going on stage?
It's really boring. We play cards and drink coffee. The beauty of Improv is that we're both basically lazy and we don't want to do a lot of work.
Which Improv games do you dislike?
For me, the singing games are not my favorite because I'm musically challenged. I always found those very difficult. Aside from that, everything's fair game.
Do you enjoy watching Improv?
It's really hard, I find, watching Improv. If it's really good you want to jump up there and join and if it's really bad you just feel bad for everyone. I get more into analyzing it than just sitting back and enjoying it.
Do people often send you recordings of themselves and their buddies doing Improv type stuff?
No, we haven't gotten into that yet, but that would be interesting. Mostly people just come up and say, "I think I'd be really good at this. I'm really funny in the kitchen." It's a very different thing to be funny with your friends at a party and being funny in front of a paying audience when you have nothing planned.
What would you recommend to someone that wants to get involved in Improv?
I would say do it as much as you can whenever you can. When I started we were doing it in church basements and where ever we could get together and get an audience. We would pull people in from the streets just to watch us. The more you do it the better you get at it and the more you do it in front of an audience the more you can see what works and what doesn't.
How do you deal with fans recognizing you?
I always find it a little odd because I don't think my looks stick out in anyway so I'm always taken a back when someone recognizes me from the show. 99% of people are great and say, "Thank you for the laughs." It's nice to be recognized for what you do and I think the show generates such good feelings.
In addition to your Improv work, you've also written for television.
Yes. My wife and I just finished filming a series up in Canada that'll be starting in January. I wrote three of the scripts and she wrote a couple. That's a whole different muscle.
Tell me more about this show that you're working on.
It takes place in 1964. My wife and I play a married couple that is international superstars and they host a variety show on the CBC. They have a very passionate marriage, sort of a Richard Burton Elizabeth Taylor type of dynamic. They have adventures on and off screen.
What other projects are you currently involved in?
Between that and the tour, that's taken up all my time. I just did a small part in a movie with Tim Allen called The Return of Zoom. He plays a superhero that comes out of retirement.
In this Zoom movie, what super powers do you have?
I have no super power. I'm a guy that comes to an auto mechanic shop to get his car fixed. So, unfortunately, no special effects around me.
What super powers do you have in real life?
I have the ability to blend in anywhere. I cannot be noticed at an amazing rate.
In addition to those, what powers would you like to acquire?
I've always wanted to fly. I think that's a really popular power that a lot of people would love, especially when caught in rush hour traffic.
Are you a fan of comic books in general?
I'm a major comic book fan. I've been collecting Superman and Batman since I was a kid.
Do you still collect them now as well?
Yes. I try to make it to my local comic store every week and pick up what's new. I think that'll always be part of my life.
What do you think of comic books now compared to how they were in the past?
They're certainly a lot different. They deal with the real world more than when I was a kid. They were always fighting aliens and having fantastic adventures. They deal more, now, with personal relationships and the world today. When 9/11 happened there were a lot of comic books that dealt with that and that's something that never would have happened in comics when I was a kid. They always kept real life and fantasy separate, and now there's a melding of the two.
Which heroes do you enjoy most?
Superman, Batman, and Spiderman are my three top ones.
What do you think of the recent trend of adapting superheroes back to the screen and the forthcoming Superman movie?
When it works well it's great and when it doesn't it doesn't. I thought that the Spiderman movies were great. They really captured the feeling of the comic book and were visual treats too. I was always a big fan of the first two Supermen. I have great hopes that they'll bring it to even greater heights.
Are there any superheroes that haven't yet gotten the big screen treatment that you would like to see?
I think they should do Howard the Duck again. I really loved that comic book, but the movie was horrible. They should find someway to do that. There's such a plethora of superheroes out there with interesting stories. I think the Tick should get the big screen adaptation.
Have you seen the Tick TV show?
I saw one and thought it was great. I was really sad that they canceled that, but it happens.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Tue 1 Aug - 9:01

Colin Interview--Part 2

There's also been a trend lately of adapting video games and old TV shows to the big screen. Anything you'd like to see?
It depends on what the show is. There are some TV shows where you think, "Why are they bothering?" There are so few shows aged well. It seems like most of the movies they're doing are older shows from the sixties and seventies and were of that time and are really hard to adapt to modern times. It would be nice, actually, if original ideas became popular.
Have there been any feature length Improv movies?
I guess the Christopher Guest movies like Spinal Tap and Best in Show had a rough outline and the actors would improvise. I think that would be a hard sell to movie studios. Those ones did very well and I think were really funny, but I don't think there were any that started with nothing. That would be quite a challenge
Have you given any thought to a documentary about Improv?
We talked about a documentary of our tour until we realized how boring we are. We don't really do anything. As I said, we sit around and play cards. All of the excitement happens on stage. Improv loses something when it's filmed. There's no substitute for seeing live Improv. There's an energy there that Whose Line came very close to capturing, but it really is an art form where a live performance is the best way to see it.
What do you think of the Green Screen show?
The performing was a little harder to do than on Whose Line because you have to think, "I can't just sit here and talk. I have to have an action that an animator can have fun with." There are two different points of view going through your head at the same time. It was difficult, but the end product was great.
To me, Whose Line was like reading a book in that even though it's four people on stage I'm able to mentally fill everything in.
One of the things I wasn't too keen on on Green Screen was that it fills in, as you say, what the audience does. They come up with the backgrounds and the props that you're pretending you have. You want to make your audience work a little. You don't want to do all the work for them.
I've noticed that Ryan isn't on the show.
He's opened a theater in the town he's living in for young people to do Improv and Standup. That's where his main focus is right now.
Is he going to be teaching classes?
Yeah, he teaches Improv all the time. He's a very good teacher.
Have you done that as well?
No, I'm a horrible teacher. It takes a special talent to teach people and I, unfortunately, don't have it.
Do you know if Ryan plans on getting himself an official website anytime?
He's sort of computer challenged. I think he just got his first computer a couple of years ago and he just plays games on it. I don't know if there are plans for an official Ryan website, but it would be very popular.
Your site has lots of hidden features, I've noticed.
Yes, this is something I just got an E-mail about from my web mistress. I haven't had a chance to check it out, but it should be interesting. I love the websites where it's more interactive and it's not just reading things.
So, then, you don't have much to do with the dinosaur segment?
No. She e-mails me, says she has ideas, and I say yes. That's my involvement.
While filming Whose Line, how close were you where Mr. Show was filmed?
We were actually on the same lot and there was one episode we were filming where David Cross popped in to say hello, which was great. Other than that, we had no interaction.
Working on the British version of Whose Line, you got to deal with Stephen Fry. What's he like?
He is probably the most intelligent person I've ever met. We did the questions game and he was doing his in Latin. I thought, "Obviously someone who has a little bit of book learning." Very nice man. Quiet, but when he spoke everything was incredibly witty. A treat to work with.
Have you read some of the books he's written?
Yes. I read The Hippopotamus, his autobiography, and Making History.
Is book writing something you've given any thought to?
No, it takes too much time and too much work. I don't really have a story to tell at this point, but, who knows, things always change.
What other projects are you contemplating, then?
My wife and I, we've started a production company so we'll be producing things in Canada. A friend of mine wrote a movie script for he and I to do. We're trying to raise money for that.
Is there anything you can tell me about this movie?
It's a road movie. Two friends get involved in nefarious goings on. It's a comedy. It's wacky. I haven't read the latest draft, but I'm looking forward to it.
There are Internet based animations that involve you, how did that come about?
I'm not sure. This young man, I guess, was a fan, and started Internet animations. There's a trilogy where I'm fighting plastic Jesus Christ. They're strange but fun to watch. He came to a show Brad and I did a couple of months ago. He brought me a T-shirt. It's great. Anyway you can get your face seen somewhere is always a bonus, in my book. It's just fun, wacky stuff.
Do you have a message to leave our readers with?
Just come see our show. Give us a career. You're never going to come out of one of our shows having learned anything, but you're sure to get a couple of laughs and nowadays those are hard to come by.

Visit Colin's website Colinmochrie.com to partake in Colin themed fun and visit Colinandbrad.com to see when Colin and Brad will be stopping by your town.

Link: http://onetrickpony.ws/colin_mochrie
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PostSubject: Re: Ryan Stiles: The Introverted Extrovert   Tue 1 Aug - 9:11

Brad Interview--Part 1
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brad Sherwood discusses Improv comedy, being a security guard, and his current tour with Whose Line is it Anyway alum Colin Mochrie.

When did you develop an interest in comedy?
I've liked being funny since I was a kid. I was always a funny kid. A lot of my family members were humorous. A sense of humor was a way of life.
What were you like in school?
I was kind of a class clown. Trying to make people laugh all the time. I wasn't a disruptive hyperactive class clown. I was just the funny guy saying stuff, not the one to pull pranks.
When did you first discover Improv?
I saw a group when I was in college. I was in a sketch group at the time and we went to see this three men group perform at a little club. I was blown away by how funny their act was. Later, I got involved in an Improv group when I moved to Los Angeles after college. I've been doing it ever since.
What was the name of the sketch group you were involved in during college?
The Generic Comedy Troupe and our slogan was, "Just Plain Funny."
What sort of sketches would you perform?
It was a live Monty Python style Saturday Night Live type thing. Premise driven, goofy sketches that were two to six minutes long. We created our own little Second City and performed in clubs and theaters in our area.
Do you remember any of the sketches that you would do?
There was one called Commando Delicatessen. Everyone that worked there was in fatigues and interrogated the customers as though they were prisoners of war when taking their order. We'd crawl on the floor to their tables.
Is standup comedy something that you considered at that time?
I did standup a couple of times, but it didn't appeal to me that much. I didn't care for having to do the same act over and over again. I think standups actually have more of an adversarial relationship with audiences where as we have more of a collaborative relationship with an audience.
When did you first perform Improv in front of an audience?
My first real show was with a group called Go For Broke that I joined out in Los Angeles and we started performing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood. That was a blast. We had a full crowd and did a great show.
What were the next few years like for you after that?
I was with a bunch of different groups. Go For Broke, Theater Sports, and I did Second City. I was very active in the Improv community in LA. I was doing shows four or five times a week at different theaters and clubs.
What were you doing at the time to support yourself financially?
I was working in TV production for part of that time, working behind the scenes as a gopher for TV shows. Delivering scripts and stuff like that. Then I got a couple of acting jobs and started living off of my work in television and commercials.
When did you get involved in Second City?
I got involved when they brought Second City out to Los Angeles. This was in the 90s out in Santa Monica. I joined the workshop there and got into the touring company as an understudy in the main show.
Who else were you touring with at the time?
My tour company had Andy Dick, Mark Decarlo, and Megan Cavenagh. She was in a League of Their Own. Mark has a show on the Travel Channel, Taste of America with Decarlo.
Where did you go from there?
I continued to work and do television. I've done lots of TV over the years. Then I got onto Whose Line, did three years on the British version and all the seasons of the American Version. In the last five years I've been going out on the road doing live shows.
How did you get involved with Whose Line?
I knew Ryan Stiles. I worked with Ryan in Second City and was actually his understudy in the main show. He told me that the producers of the British Whose Line were coming to town and told me to audition.
When were you a security guard?
That was my first job when I moved to Los Angeles. I worked the graveyard shift on the top floor of a high rise in down town Los Angeles.
When you become a security guard, what sort of preparation goes into that?
You have to go down to the wardrobe office in downtown LA and they give you a blue blazer that fits you, a white shirt, clip on tie, and gray pants. They say go to this address at midnight and sit there until eight O'clock in the morning. It's that difficult to get that job.
There was no training?
No.
So, you wouldn't know how to kill a man twelve different ways with your thumbs?
I already knew how to do that and I never had to use it. It's one of the skills I picked up working in Improv.
Were you often dropping things from the top floor?
I think they were wise enough to have all of the windows closed so that I couldn't do that. I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch and watching David Letterman.
When you went over to England to film Whose Line, what was that like?
It was fun. I had never been to England before, so it was a fun working vacation. We had a lot of down time because we would shoot on the weekends and then have the rest of the week to hang out in London.
To your knowledge, does Whose Line hold the record for tallest Improv collective?
Yes, our mean and average height is taller than every comedy group. We outrank Monty Python, I believe. They have a lot of short, squatty people. Ryan is 6' 6", I'm 6' 4", Colin is 6' 2", Greg and Chip are six foot. Wayne's kinda short. I think he's 5' 10". He's a shrimp.
How did it feel to no longer be the tallest person in the room?
I got used to it. I've been working with Ryan for so long. It's kind of nice to have someone that sticks out as an actual freak. It places me in the category of normalcy. I figure that as long as I hang out with him, if something's going to be bumped into by a tall person it'll be him first and I can learn from his mistakes.
Other than Whose Line, what else were you involved in at the time?
I was still doing live comedy in and around Los Angeles. I did a sketch comedy show called The Newz. It was a half hour sketch show that was syndicated. Did sixty-three episodes of that. That was a really fun and creative project. I'd fly down to Florida to shoot that.
What changes have you noticed in Improv since you've started?
Now, with having had Whose Line on American television for the last eight years, there's an awareness of it throughout the country that didn't know about it before. It used to be something that was around in comedy clubs, theaters, or if someone went to see Second City's Improv set, but normal people didn't know much about it. Now it's being taught in theater classes, curriculums in high schools, grade schools, and colleges. It's an integral part of performing. Now most colleges have an Improv troupe or team.
What changes have you noticed in comedy in general?
I don't think there's much of a change in comedy as far as standup and sketch are concerned. There's always going to be sitcoms and standups. There are different types of standups. There's the character standups, angry, observational, prop standups. Same with sitcoms. There are family ones, wacky sitcoms. It's not a formula that's going to get completely reinvented.
Do people often send you recordings of themselves doing Improv?
Thank goodness they don't. I've been lucky enough to never get a recording of someone doing Improv.
How do you deal with people approaching you in the street?
I just say hello. I don't get recognized often. When people do recognize me or Colin, they're very nice to us. We're such nice people during the show and we are ourselves on the show, so we have an air of familiarity. It's not a creepy Brad Pitt thing where we have a bunch of stalkers. And we're not like Jean Claude Van Damn where people try to size us up and see how tough we are.
Do you watch Improv?
I do it nonstop, so I don't necessarily watch it. I have friends that do shows here in Los Angeles, so if they're starting a new format I might go see it.
Which Improv games do you enjoy?
I like the ones that work best on a particular night. We play a bunch of different games in our show and we're always rotating new things in. It's ever changing. Sometimes there's a game that doesn't work well and then another night it ends up being the funniest part of the show.
Are there any, then, that you dislike?
I wouldn't do them if I disliked them. There are hundreds of Improv games out there. Some are teaching tools to learn the skills of Improv, some are acting games to get you out of your shell, and then others are performance worthy.
How do you feel about short form Improv Vs. long form Improv?
I like them both. Most people start out in short form and then evolve into doing long form. Most groups that stay together for more than five years end up trying out long form. But I think audiences, for the most part, enjoy more of the games format of Whose Line.
What do you think of the Green Screen show?
I like it. It's a fun project to work on. One of the coolest things about it is that we shoot our segment and then it gets sent off to animators and then we don't get to see it till it airs. We have no idea what they're going to animate with us, what style they're going to use, or what jokes they're going to add that are visual. It's exciting.
Will there be an Improv documentary that you're involved in?
If there is one and they ask me to be in it, I would be involved. I would bet that, eventually, there will be one, maybe, along the lines of The Aristocrats where people discuss it. Someone, once, did shoot an Improv documentary that I was a part of. It was for Canadian TV and they interviewed many people, but I didn't get to see it.
Tell me about Wiener Takes All.
I'm not officially involved in it. I was in a light beer commercial years ago where they had this add campaign where they were combining sports with one thing to make another. They did wiener dog races. They were racing dachshunds drag race style and since then wiener dog owners have started holding annual races. They listed me in the credits because of that commercial.
How did the Brad and Colin tour come to be?
We had been performing together with the All Stars a lot. I had been doing a two-man comedy show around the country and having success with that, I asked if he would do this two-man show. I had been perfecting this two-man show and we could take it to big theaters. We gave it a try, went out, did a successful twenty shows, and we've been at it for the last three years.
How do you feel about doing a two-man show compared to something like Whose Line?
It's fun. We get to be on stage the entire time and it's less ways you have to split the money.
How did you decide whose name went first on the marquee?
We decided that age would come before beauty and talent.
How did you come up with the World's Most Dangerous Improv game?
That was a game that I used to play with Theater Sports. We played all sorts of wacky games that were stupid, dangerous, and difficult. That was one that I thought would translate well to our live shows.
Who sets the traps?
The stage crew at the theater. That's their penalty for having us come to their theater.
Do you have a special arrangement with mousetrap manufacturers?
We should as soon as possible. If we do a hundred shows a year that means a hundred different cities have to buy a hundred different mousetraps. That's ten thousand mousetraps that we're adding to the books of the mousetrap company.
What happens to the mousetraps after the shows over?
A lot of them fans grab, we find some after the show, or the stage crew sweeps them up and throws them away.
Are there any other hazardous Improv games out there?
We play a game called Moving Bodies and sometimes you get hurt doing that because you have other people moving you. I got a fat lip the other night doing that. Someone slapped me with Colin's hand and it caught me right in the jaw.
What are the origins of most of these games?
Every game that happened on Whose Line already existed out in the world of Improv from Second City, Theater Sports, or Comedy Sports. These are all games that have been around for decades and have been good teaching tools and performance games. It's a mater of finding the ones that work best for our shows or Whose Line. Some work best when they're filmed because they're more visual, while others depend on how many people you have in the show. There are many different factors.
Are there any that you' made up yourself?
I came up with a game called New Choice. It was originally a teaching tool from when I was teaching Improv at Theater Sports. You have someone on the sidelines, two people are doing a scene, and while they're doing the scene you have someone say, "New choice," or ring a bell. When they do that, they have to rewind and they have to come up with a completely different way of saying what they just said. It's fun because you get people out of their head and they start to ramble off unusual things from their subconscious.
How do you prepare before going up on stage?
Usually Colin and I play cards. There's nothing to really prepare when you don't know what you're going to be doing.
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