As Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza premieres on GSN tonight (8 PM & 11 PM ET/PT), we can't help but think of all the fond memories we have of some of the same cast on Whose Line Is It Anyway? In tribute, my colleague Jennifer Decker and I have each selected our five favorite moments (in no particular order) from Whose Line.
Note: For the purposes of simplicity and space, this list refers only to the American (ABC) version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? We have a deep affection for the original UK series (hi, Clive Anderson!) but if we included it, we'd be here all day.
Jenn's Five Favorites:
Carol Channing and the neon light:
It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, right? Well, on Whose Line, sometimes getting hurt leads to comedy gold. One of my very favorite moments on the show was a game of Party Quirks in which Ryan Stiles was playing Carol Channing with a tiny issue: her head keeps sticking to things. No, it doesn’t make sense, but does it really have to?
Kathy Greenwood got Wayne Brady (who's supposed to be a fast-talking flirter) and Colin Mochrie (as a French pig looking for truffles) out of the way fast, but was stumped by Ryan, whose head has been stuck to both Colin’s stomach and the floor. When he chose his third sticking spot, though, he wasn’t looking closely, and planted the top of his head into Drew Carey’s desk, smashing the neon light on the front of it. I’ve never seen anyone go from concern to nearly falling down laughing as dramatically as Drew did at that moment, and Ryan kept right on going (after the initial recoil) with, “You wouldn’t have a suture around the house, would you?”
When Kathy tried to get back on track and verify that Ryan's character was, in fact, Carol Channing, Ryan’s reply was classic: “I used to be. I can’t remember anymore.”
Colin was never really known for making a whole lot of sense during the singing games, especially the Irish Drinking Songs. He often came up with the most random, rhyme-less lines. Among them are greats, like ending the song about knocking over a Christmas tree with the line “I peed my pants”, and a song about graduation that had him admitting later that he should never go last.
The most ridiculous (and hilarious) example of this, though, is when Wayne, Drew, Colin and Ryan sang about calling out the wrong name in bed. It all started with Drew, who flubbed a line, giving Ryan nothing to rhyme with and setting off a chain reaction. Ryan came out with nonsense (something to the effect of “And then aahlaahrehlaah”), which caused Wayne to break up and not get a line in at all. Drew missed his next line too, and when it got back around to Colin, what came out of his mouth?
Everyone on stage lost it then, except for Colin, who bopped along to the beat until the others joined back in, this time singing about having no idea what to sing anymore. Colin brought the song to an end with another good “meooow,” and brought them all down again. There is nothing better than cast crack-ups.
This one was a quickie, but a goodie. It’s one of those jokes that just goes to show you that the smallest thing can stick in someone’s mind forever. During a game of Greatest Hits, in which Ryan and Colin are presenting a compilation called “Songs of the Western," Ryan asked Colin what kind of bird always says the name of their favorite band. The almost never stumped Colin replied “An Arctic Tern."
“What sound does an Arctic Tern make?” Ryan asked.
Colin paused, then in a parrot-ish croak said, “Backstreet Boys."
Ryan lost it. The audience lost it. I lost it. It’s a joke I will never forget.
Ryan Tarzan, Colin Jane:
Audience participation is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s utter disaster. The episode in which Ryan and Colin played Tarzan and Jane in a game of Sound Effects is an example of both at the same time. The utter disaster of how bad the sound effects of the two audience members were was what made this game one of my all time favorites.
There is almost no way to choose a favorite moment from this scene. From Tarzan’s womanly yell, to the plane that sounded like it was attached to a lawnmower, it was all good. Even better was that the women doing the sound effects were having a blast. Watching them jump up and down excitedly put a big grin on my face. It was almost an enthusiastic endorsement of how great this show can make you feel.
Whose Line, in and of itself, is a bit larger than life. So when you take a show like this and throw Richard Simmons into the mix, something magical (or bizarre, depending on how you look at it) is going to happen. When Simmons joined a game of Living Scenery, the insanity started from the moment he walked out from backstage in his short shorts and sparkly blue tank top until he left. And surprisingly, Simmons’ comedic timing was pretty good, as evidenced by his interaction with Drew before the scene started.
It was brilliant watching Ryan and Colin trying to come up with ways to one up each other with the use of Simmons (and Wayne) as their prop. By the time it was over, Ryan and Colin were sitting on Richard’s back, and Richard was laying face to face on top of a very uncomfortable Wayne.
As an added bonus, take a moment to watch Greg Proops in the background. At times he was literally turning his body away from the stage in a failed effort to control his laughter. “I’m just so happy,” he said after the scene was over, wiping away tears of laughter. Priceless.
Brittany's Five Favorites:
When you're working completely spontaneously, sometimes things go wrong - and nothing went more wrong on Whose Line than a game of Song Styles, in which Wayne Brady was asked to perform a song about a man named Howard. I knew it was going to be an interesting game when it was supposed to be in the style of the Village People, with Greg, Colin and Wayne making up the rest of the musical group. I didn't expect what happened next.
Things started to go wrong when Wayne's attempt to parody "YMCA" led him to misspell "Howard" as "H-O-R-W-A-R-D." It got worse, and fast - literally. Mid-song, resident musician Laura Hall had an equipment malfunction, and the beat of the music sped up to an unbelievably fast level, to the bewilderment of the performers. By the time the song ended, everyone was in tears, and Wayne was ribbed about not knowing how to spell for the rest of the evening. He said it best, though: "It's hard to spell at 210 beats per minute."
See the H-O-R-W-A-R-D malfunction here.
One of the unofficial staples among the Whose Line cast was jokes about Colin Mochrie's lack of hair. These jokes started extending to the studio audience - at the beginning of a game of Superheroes, when Drew asked the for an unlikely superhero name for Colin, someone yelled out "Captain Hair." The look on Colin's face was priceless, and Drew thought this was hilarious.
Good-natured Colin went through the entire game as Captain Hair, and the joke stuck around through the rest of the evening in various permutations (Ryan pointed out that if it was in German, it would be "Herr Hair"). As if that wasn't enough, as the credits rolled, Drew asked Colin to read them in the style of Captain Hair.
You can watch the adventures of Captain Hair here.
A variation on Song Styles, this game was pretty much always ridiculous, but there's a great one that's laugh-out-loud before it even starts. In introducing the game, Drew said that Africa is a country, only to be reminded by Greg that it's a continent. Wayne then pretended to take offense at having to do African Chant because he's black.
His fake protest made the fact that the other three performers were stuck doing his background vocals even funnier. Not to mention that they then failed miserably at doing said background vocals. At one point, Wayne said "Chris" and they said what sounds a lot like "trees." It was a pretty good argument for why Wayne always had to do African Chant - because, as Drew tells him, Colin would just mess it up.
You can watch African Chant here.
Riffing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, the series introduced this game which always had a catch, such as the "frat boy" version or the "Jerry Springer" version. Most of these got out of hand in a hurry (see the "German" version which saw Greg Proops yelling possible answers in a German accent, one of which was invading Poland). My favorite, though, was one question that I still use today to annoy people:
"Is the answer A) B, B) C, C) D or D) A?"
I couldn't find that one, but check out the German version here.
Any playing of Scenes From A Hat:
Though I love pretty much every game on Whose Line (even the Hoedowns, even if the cast hated them), my favorite is probably Scenes From A Hat, because it had so many different suggestions and almost every time I was laughing out loud at something. These included ill-advised Valentine's Day gifts (Ryan: "It's a gun. I'll give you the bullets at Christmas"), naked pictures you don't want to see on the Internet (Ryan typed in "Carey," then threw his computer out the window), and rejected Jeopardy categories (you'll have to see it for yourself). There was always something.
Check out a memorable game of Scenes From A Hat here.
With these and many more Whose Line memories, we're excited to welcome Drew Carey and friends back to TV. You can read an advance review of Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza, and watch for yourself tonight at 8 PM & 11 PM ET/PT on GSN.