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Saturday, September 30, 2023
"Whose Live Anyway" comedians were clearly talented, though not as quick or witty as expected.

"Whose Live Anyway" comedians were clearly talented, though not as quick or witty as expected.

​'Whose Live Anyway' improv at the Overture falls flat in light of current events

Cast members from the hit improv TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway” gave a performance that was much like a bowl of old soup this past Thursday in "Whose Live Anway" — lukewarm. On top of that, it was old, white and male.

Comedians Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis and Joel Murray performed to a packed audience in the Overture Center’s Overture Hall. Missing from the live performance were “Whose Line” TV comedians Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, host Aisha Tyler and musicians Laura Hall and Linda Taylor. The show certainly suffered from their absence and the audience, likely made up of fans of the show, was more than slightly disappointed.

The performers walked onstage, which was set up with four tall chairs to mimic the TV set, to thunderous applause. Then followed the obligatory jokes about beer and cheese. Later came the common joke about Trump and Pence being gay.

The show was completely improvised based off of audience suggestions and participation, and the performers' imaginations. The comedians were clearly talented, though not as quick or witty as expected. Ryan Stiles, one of the TV show regulars, gave a funny, yet underwhelming performance.

As I watched, I quickly realized that in the unease of the Kavanaugh trials, the last thing I wanted to watch was four older white men cracking jokes with each other — and the audience seemed to feel the same, judging by the feeble laughter.

I couldn’t get lost in the jokes, and I definitely couldn’t use the humor as an escape from the real world. Instead, my mind would not stop thinking about how comedy is still an unequal line of work for women and minorities. In 2015, there was not one woman ranked on the list of Highest Paid Comedians. And, at a typical comedy club, women make up only 14 percent of lineups.

The comics joked half-heartedly about Kavanaugh, which the audience seemed to appreciate, but there was a palpable tension — almost guilt — present for the entire show.

This overwhelming sense of discomfort wasn’t helped by Greg Proop’s repeated use of “darling” towards female audience volunteers, or Jeff B. Davis stroking the hair of one woman volunteer named Terry.

The same volunteer, Terry, was asked only about her husbands (she has had many), her current boyfriend and whether she had any children, rather than about her interests. Terry’s many husbands became an admittedly funny running joke.

Throughout the show, the comedians insisted Terry get married to her current boyfriend so that they could have children, despite the cool reactions of the audience.

The funniest jokes of the show, and the only ones that made me laugh out loud, came not from the professional comedians, but from audience participants.

I was genuinely looking forward to a live comedy show based on a favorite TV program that never fails to make me laugh, but instead I got one that left me, and the audience, disappointed.

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