Greg Proops

by Joanna Orland

Greg Proops is a Standup, Improviser, Actor and Podcaster.  Most renowned for his work on both the British and American versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and most recently his highly successful podcast The Smartest Man In The World, Proops himself kindly took the time to answer some of our questions!  Enjoy:

How did you first get into performing comedy?

I went to high school in the 70’s in the Bay Area that’s when Robin Williams was starring. My friend Forrest Brakeman and I started doing variety shows at school and then wrote a high-energy sort of not very funny teen act. The we moved to San Francisco and jumped into the clubs there, The Holy City Zoo and The Other Café which are both gone, daddy, gone.

You’ve managed to forge a successful career out of improv – a harder profession to succeed in than even standup. How did this go from a passion to a career?

Stand up is my main job. I have been as lucky as can be by working with Ryan Stiles and Drew Carey as well as the Comedy Store players. I am Ringo in the band.

Do you prefer doing standup or improv, and why?

Podcast most of all. The Podcast has connected me with people and the things I love more than anything I have ever done. I did not think that was possible because Whose Line was very powerful in getting my lame butt out there and I always thought stand up was the most direct way to communicate with the audience. But I am surprised and delighted to find at this late date there are new and exciting ways to be subversive.

Who are some of your comedic influences?

George Carlin is my favorite comedian. He was opinionated and precise. I love Bill Hicks and had the pleasure of being an acquaintance, a noble fellow. Warren Thomas and Will Durst from San Francisco taught me everything by being and of course my Wife is the light.

You’ve experienced living and working in both America and Britain. How do you feel the sense of humour differs between the two countries? Do audiences react to your set differently in America versus Britain?

Timing is the biggest difference. When a UK crowd is done with a joke they are done. You can usually wring a few more gags out of a US crowd.

You currently run a podcast – The Smartest Man in the World.  What can you tell us about this project?

That it has changed my view on comedy and life. I am direct contact with the listeners and it is very intimate. I pour my heart out and I never thought I would. I am abit emotionally guarded. The podcast has forced me to be new.

How much of this do you prepare before a recording and how much do you improvise live in front of the audience?

I am not telling. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes we drink and hope for inspiration.

Your podcast often touches on the political – what are some issues troubling you at the moment?

The fact that the rich are trying to convince the world the poor are the problem. That governments have created a world of fear and terror when they are the ones we must guard against.

You’re known to be a bit of a film fan – have you ever tried your hand at writing one?

I cannot think in plots. I would love to but I guess I am too high to do it.

If there were only one word to sum up Greg Proops, what would that word be?

Totally locquacious.


You can subscribe to Greg’s podcast The Smartest Man In The World via iTunes.

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