Tag Archives: Greg Proops

Happy Birthday Drew Carey!

From the first sighting on old cable comedy shows through Human Cartoon, The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway, Drew Carey has consistently been among my favorite people. Self-deprecating, lightning quick and a bit on the raunchy side, he’s proven that he can make anything funny, even a game show. (Not that I’m watching The Price Is Right, even at gunpoint…)

The Drew Carey Show (and where is the complete series on DVD, people?) featured a first-rate cast and was cool enough to have Joe Walsh as a stoner guitarist (not much of a stretch); thanks to Ian Hunter and Drew Carey, Cleveland regained its coolness. We learned to appreciate Diedrich Bader and Ryan Stiles as comedic actors,  and were introduced to Mr. Wick, who we have come to love even more as Craig Ferguson, subversive late night host.

Adapting the British improv show, Whose Line introduced many of us to Greg Proops and Wayne Brady and especially Colin Mochrie, a first-class nutjob whose hundreds of interactions with Stiles are comedy classics at the level of Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.

It’s Drew in a nutshell – secure and unselfish enough to surround himself with brilliant people and let them shine, because the show comes first. If only more stars would be so egoless.

Happy Birthday, Drew!

Drew Carey - a true star.

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Stand Up Wit…Greg Proops

I now have even less spare time.

Whip-smart comic Greg Proops has taken the plunge and has started a live podcast. Just when I was figuring out a way to keep up with Marc Maron and Bill Burr, let alone the several other comics that I try to slot in, now Proops has tossed his cap in the ring. From the website: In this, the inaugural episode of “The Smartest Man in the World,” Greg takes on Jerry Brown, Ayn Rand and the ACLU. No word on the frequency of these podcasts, but hopefully we’ll see some type of regular schedule.

Greg’s words tumble from mind to mouth to microphone so fast it’s hard to believe there’s a filtering process in place. But whether there is or not, there are so many subtle jabs peppered within the overt jokes that you – like the live audience – might miss a few on first listen. (Thank you for a second chance, podcast!) And doing this live in front of an audience adds even more charm and wierdness to the process. Who else would start coughing during a live taping and then – to regain the lost momentum – shift into a tuberculosis-ridden Doc Holliday impression?

Proops is well-known to many as one of the key contributors to the improv comedy program Whose Line Is It Anyway?  (both the original UK program and Drew Carey’s US version); he also has a wealth of credits ranging from animation voice-overs to guest appearances and recurring character parts on TV. But I most admire Proops as the snarky stand-up comic ripping society and all its foibles a fresh new one. He has four releases available: Joke Book, Houston We Have a Problem, Elsewhere and the newest title, an EP called Proops Digs In (recorded at Largo, where Proops often hosts a star-studded comedy talk show).

You can pick up Proops Digs In from AST Records; I highly recommend the three-EP package that also includes new works from Dan Telfer and the amazing Paul F. Tompkins. An absolute steal – all three for just fifteen dollars. But while you’re waiting for the package to arrive, here’s a free seventy-five minutes to tide you over.

Grab the podcast on iTunes, via RSS Feed or simply visit the website.

Visit Greg’s website.

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I Still Miss Tough Crowd

Seven years ago tonight, Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn made its official series debut on Comedy Central (a short test run of the show aired in 2002). A round-table discussion featuring four stand-up comics and host Colin Quinn, Tough Crowd‘s scope was everything and anything – race, religion, politics, current events, celebretards and whatever else the writers and the producers found chat-worthy. Issues would be raised and covered, sometimes a brief skit was included and then some bizarre audience participation games and/or final summaries from the comics would close the show.

It was fast and loose, and although the panelists had an idea of what the topics would be, it was anything but scripted. More often than not the comics would launch into tirades at each other, especially if a joke bombed (as it often would) or someone pandered to the studio audience for an applause break (a mortal sin for the regulars and an excuse for a verbal beat down). And by regulars I mean the most frequent panelists who cycled in and out; it seemed as if at least two of them were on every program. Quinn assembled a veritable All-Star team of cutting-edge comics who were quick on their feet, sarcastic and fearless; that they were also friends made the viewer a fly on the wall in a raucous no-holds-barred bullshit session.

Regulars included comedians Nick DiPaolo, Greg Giraldo, Judy Gold, Jim Norton, Patrice O’Neal, Keith Robinson and Rich Vos. Other frequent guest comics included Dave Attell, Todd Barry, Lewis Black, Billy Burr, Louis C.K., Jim David, Marc Maron and Greg Proops among many, many of the top names that sat in on the madness. It seems like everyone sat in at least once – George Carlin, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Klein…you just weren’t seeing that many amazing comedians that frequently anywhere on television at the time, let alone that informally.

For those not used to him, Quinn seemingly bumbled his way through cue cards and stage directions, but Colin’s style had always been to keep moving forward, even if he ran himself over in the process. And Quinn always insisted that the blown gags, the awkward silences, the comics talking over each other remained in the broadcast, warts and all. Above all, Quinn wanted honesty, and although it was unlike anything else on television and certainly not for everyone, it was real.

Although the panelists did try to score points against each other, and it did give them a chance to work in some topical material, there were several moments when a controversial discussion turned fascinatingly serious and animated. Of course, they drove the car into the brick wall on occasion, too, and that was half the fun.

But soon Comedy Central seemed to stop promoting the show, and whether it was a battle to tighten the structure of the show (no way would Quinn ever do that) or the argumentative nature of the program not fitting in with The Big Picture remains unclear. But they let it die; by the end of 2004 it was over. Comedy Central was having great success with Dave Chappelle, but everything they tried to fill the Tough Crowd slot with – Blue Collar Comedy, Adam Carolla, Graham Norton – died quickly. Every time they come up with a Jeff Dunham Show and it sinks like a stone, I figure it’s just karma biting them in the ass.

Laurie Kilmartin was one of the writers. Her thoughts here.

Many current shows now use the same format – Bill Maher has three guests who discuss issues, but he has both the freedom of language and the restriction of audience that HBO brings. Chelsea Lately has two segments where the host (Chelsea Handler)  riffs on a news item and then has three guest comics pile on (albeit far tamer than Tough Crowd). and now we have the excremental Marriage Ref, which combines the host/panel format with reality television into a train wreck of a program.

There are dozens of Comedy Central products available and a humongous video library online, but Tough Crowd has been buried like a bad habit. No DVD. No reunion special. No re-airing of over two hundred episodes. On that network, Tough Crowd is forgotten.

But not to the fans. It lives and breathes in the hearts of anyone who loved the show.  And so tonight I tip my hat to Colin and Greg and Nick and Jim and Keith and Judy and Patrice and Rich…and all the writers, staffers and producers who had the brains and the hearts and the balls to make controversy entertaining every night.

Here’s hoping Comedy Central does the right thing – even if only to make some money – and makes those shows available again. In a universe where According To Jim stays on the air for eight seasons, surely Tough Crowd fans can be thrown a bone?

Best of Tough Crowd, Part One

Best of Tough Crowd, Part Two

Wiki site

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T.G.I.F. – Catharsis

Sometimes the best laughter – like the best music – comes after experiencing pain. And there are some artists who are very adept at expressing both. It’s nakedly honest, and frankly it can be uncomfortable to watch someone try to wallow through their own emotional cleansing if they are just looking for sympathy. But when they add venting? Ahhh…now we’re talking.

Last week I promised you more Marc Maron, a brilliant practicioner of the art of catharsis. You’re welcome.

marc maron pic

Reminiscing about his inner demon.

Having a woman around to keep you down.

Support those who drive around high.

…and those who need to get high to do their job.

Addressing The Class of 2009

The Patriot Act

Appreciating Chinese Food

Moses and Drugs (with Greg Proops)

Cracker Night Highlights, Part One

Cracker Night Highlights, Part Two

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T.G.I.F. – Ten More Laughs

 This week a little cheating – a couple of the clips feature multiple performers and as usual I can’t count to ten. Sad to think that Sather, Hedberg and Jeni are no longer with us; sadder to realize that two were suicides and the third might have been. Every one of these guys has made me laugh so hard that fluids tried to escape my body against my will. Enjoy!

comedy mask

Dave Chappelle doesn’t like Sesame Street very much.

The late Drake Sather was a great stand-up and comedy writer.

Norm MacDonald is effin brilliant.

So was the late Mitch Hedberg; this from the Just For Laughs Festival.

Another guy I miss, Richard Jeni, riffing on Michael Jackson.

Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops on Who’s Line is it Anyway?

Banter between Colin Mochrie and Ryan doing the classic “Greatest Hits” ads.

Nick DiPaolo on drinking, driving and smoking.

Gilbert Gottfried can squeeze every last drop out of a funny line.

Craig Ferguson is funny on his show but his stand-up shows are killer.

Bonus tracks:

Eddie Izzard and the Evil Giraffe.

Jim Carrey channels David Caruso.

Life is short. Laugh every day!

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