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.
Filed under Comedy, Film/TV
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.
Filed under Comedy, Reviews
Whose yer daddy? (Apparently, he was...)
Good weekend for reading. I just finished Kim Johnsons‘s excellent book The Funniest One In The Room about the life of Del Close, a legend of the improv theatre world. Pretty much any American comic working the edges today can be traced back to his influence, along with that of Paul Sills and Viola Spolin (Sills’ mother), and the long form model known as The Harold. In tandem with the early Brirtish movement, his work also impacted landmark television shows like SNL, SCTV, MAD TV, Mr. Show, Whose Line Is It Anyway and others. Close died ten years ago; his influence will probably be eternal.
Johnson, who was a student of Close, was somehow able to stitch together a story about an unconventional man’s life, weaving a narrative out of the fact, fiction and legends like a person would pan for gold. I didn’t know the man personally, but when you read the testimonials from comedians who praise the book, you’ll go on faith like I did. It’s well-written, peppered with wonderful anecdotes, and a great peek behind the comedy curtain.
Here are just some of the groups that Close impacted as either an actor, writer, director or influence – the list of famous names who have interned through them is staggering:
I’ve read a few good books on the history of comedy over the last few years. I’ll save that overview for another day, but rest assured this title will be on the list – highly recommended for any fan of the genre.
The man willed his skull to the Goodman Theatre for their next presentation of Hamlet. Need I say more?
Truth In Comedy – a book Close co-authored with Johnson and Charna Halpern.
Del Close Wikipedia page.
Serendipity! Looks like the two comedy albums Del made are set for re-release in July.
I Am The Skull of Del Close