I’ve mentioned before that the CW era is one I don’t have the familiarity with that I have with the ABC version. I’ve seen Drew episodes tons of times and know which ones to look forward to. The CW shows, I may have watched in full once over, maybe seen clips from a few more times. I know the parts *I* like, but I’m never entirely sure which shows are the ‘oh my god’ ones, because the CW version hasn’t had the YouTube second life that the ABC version has [thanks a lot Angst copyright bots].
So, going into this episode, I know for a fact it’s a classic because I laughed my ass off the first time I saw it, and likened it to the Richard Simmons episode in how while the guest booking goes. I’m not sure if the fanbase thinks this one is a classic anymore, but I sure do. So here we go.
Kathie Lee Gifford used to host a talk show with Regis Philbin called, well, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Both were chatty and amiable, and while Kathie Lee was the more quirky one, she was an endearing TV presence, and spoke of love for her son Cody and husband Frank, the former New York Giant. In 2000, Kathie Lee leaves Live!, probably due to public outcry, and Regis carries on for another few years with Kelly Ripa, who’s hosted the show ever since.
The reason why Kathie Lee was relevant in 2015 is that from roughly 2008 until then, Kathie Lee had been hosting the fourth hour of the Today show on NBC with more hardened and trusted news anchor Hoda Kotb. Their barely-coherent and often-times drunken banter on the show was the stuff of bad-TV legend, ripe for parody on The Soup and SNL, and a veritable cauldron of daytime TV trash.
And that’s where we find Kathie Lee in 2015- America’s wine mom, in charge of pre-Trump daytime news for people who shouldn’t be watching daytime TV, and someone who seems like a fairly wild booking for Whose Line.
So, regardless, they booked her for Whose Line, during the Brad Sherwood taping that previously gave us the excellent and wildly-off-the-rails E7. And…madness is about to ensue, because I think she had some wine before she went on.
Questions: One Night in a Seedy Motel
Wayne starts with a Randy Savage impression, Brad invokes a ‘special called the Lady Gaga’
Wayne: ‘what does the Gaga entail?”
Brad: “Can you keep a poker face?”
it’s that simple
Wayne: “if you poke me in the face, will I keep it?”
Brad, exiting: “I’m on the edge of glory…”
Ryan, smirking: “Is my face steaming up?”
Wayne: “would you mind if I left a chocolate on the pillow?”
Ryan, perfectly delivered: “what’s THAT mean?”
Wayne cannot take that insinuation and leaves
Colin enters in a fly mask
Ryan, not over that: “did you hear there’s chocolate on the pillow?”
Wayne is audibly giggling still
Brad, with a wolf mask: “would you like me to blow your…….house down?”
Colin: “How much would that set me back?”
Brad, for a brief moment:
Just comes ever-so-close to breaking. Then: “do you know your fly is open?”
I love Brad cutely going “…yes” when Wayne asks him to stand over there. Everybody’s in such a good mood, EVEN THIS EARLY IN THE SHOW
Ryan, playing a southern belle: “would you care for THESE?”
Wayne, still in his Pope hat: “would you like them blessed?”
Ryan reacts to Colin’s horned helmet with an ‘OOOOOOH’ that catches him off guard. He’s even repeating it as he heads to the seats.
A pretty fun Questions. I don’t know if it was entirely to the quality of other playings we’ve seen this season, but I liked this one a lot, and it had some very loose, fun moments.
Also, as Ryan and Aisha are still doing ‘OOOOOOOH’s, Wayne throws in a full-on Frank Nelson ‘YEEEEEES?’. Which makes sense- Wayne has talked about watching a TON of old TV, and Frank Nelson must have cameoed in every 50s and 60s show out there.
Aisha mistakes the ‘do you know your fly is open’ for a Ryan line, which confuses him. Brad goes “CAN I HAVE THOSE POINTS?”
Duet: Wayne and Brad sing a boy-band song to Kathie Lee
Right at the start of this song, Kathie Lee is doing some very spirited dancing, boob-jiggling, arm raising and everything. I do think she had some wine before she came on.
I have no idea what is the catalyst behind Kathie Lee gravitating towards Brad during this number, but, uh:
Barely anything has happened other than thrusting, and already Ryan is facepalming, and Wayne is turning back to the seats, which is his usual cover for cracking.
Kathie Lee then does this:
Just an aggressive thigh-brush. Is Kathie-Lee…okay? Were things getting really tough with Frank at this point in 2015 and did she REALLY need sex?
Wayne: “for just three minutes, close your eyes and let me be your black Frank.”
[Honestly, ‘let me be Frank’ would have been a more clever pun]
Kathie Lee, IMMEDIATELY AS THAT MUST HAVE BEEN A TOUCHY SUBJECT:
Ryan AND Wayne lose it here
Kathie Lee shrugs and embraces Wayne. In a ‘i mean, he’s not wrong’ kinda way
Wayne has a verse with some pretty good lines, about “like you and Hoda let’s drink some wine”. And then Brad starts again, and…
Brad mentions “drain[ing] a bottle of Zinfandel”
Kathie-Lee: “I don’t like Zinfandel [to Wayne] I’m all yours.”
A GOOD LINE FROM KATHIE LEE. She can play along!
Kathie Lee says “I want you to buy a piece of my vineyard”
Wayne, very confused [in-character] “…I guess that’s sexy?
Nothing like a piece of land transaction between you and me…”
Brad: “Don’t make me beg, I’ll buy your vineyard-”
Kathie Lee, pointing to the floor: “BEG.”
DOES SHE KNOW WHEN THIS GOES OUT???
Brad’s want to please a guest may have just…put things into motion
Colin and Ryan are laughing at something else in the back. However…
As the song gets sexier and sexier…
BOOM. Kathie Lee just made this into a completely sexualized game. And Brad, of course is selling it. Wayne has no choice but to keep it going. I love Colin’s ‘hmmm’ reaction at the back. ‘What could this be?’
I have no idea what happens when she looks at Ryan and Colin, but it completely does them in:
And Brad is still trying to keep the game going, continuing the ‘OH YEAH’ hook of the song and trying to keep professional, but…Kathie Lee is simulating a sexual act on top of him right now. It’s hard to keep composure.
This is…one of the most disgusting images the show’s ever put out. Kathie Lee looks absolutely drunk, and is completely into this sex-simulation bit. And Brad, as he is prone to do, is absolutely selling it.
Wayne: “And if you keep goin, you’re gonna make another Cody…”
She is GONE.
The song ends:
That says it all. Wayne’s gone. Colin’s gone. Ryan’s gone. Even Kathie Lee is gone. But Brad has finished the song and made everything work.
Wayne: “ONLY ON THE CW.”
[Also, we actually hear the postgame audio]
Brad: “oh, that was so funny…”
Wayne: “OH MY GOD.”
Kathie Lee: “IS THIS AGAINST THE LAW, WHAT WE JUST DID???”
Brad: “I hope not.”
That dialogue there is proof that Kathie Lee was self-aware, and an active participant in this game rather than just collapsing in a drunken mess. I mean, yes, she’d had some wine…but she was lawful in this game by making it into an oversexed mess of a Duet rather than just not being self-aware and wanting to kiss everyone like Chyna. The fact that Wayne and Brad are reassuring her and giving her postgame assessments like any other performer is proof of this- they were combined together to make this a bawdy, out-there game and all three decided to absolutely sell it, especially Brad. There’s no ‘HOW DARE YOU DO THIS’.
I will say that Kathie’s immediate response is similar to Charlie Sheen’s after his IAG Story playing. Immediately asking Drew ‘Did I just ruin the whole thing?’ While Drew was clearly lying, Kathie Lee didn’t break any rules of improv. Hell, she followed some- she made her scene partners look REALLY GOOD by turning a simple boy band number into a steamy, sexy scene in itself. There was no incongruence, and the sum of this scene’s parts fit together to create something very funny and very vulgar.
Now, the singing component is basically an afterthought, as while there were some good lyrics it was mostly background for the actions and physical bits of this scene, but it was still a good Duet in that the style remained intact and Wayne and Brad had material. It was just boosted by being an absolute spectacle.
Also, Kathie Lee jokingly clutches her hip as she walks off, winking to the camera. Very Hasselhoff-esque
Brad, referring to the lifetime point offered to him earlier in the taping: “you can have that point back, I’m done…”
Ryan: “Brad wants to know if we can take a break so he can have a smoke..”
Aisha: “don’t act like you hadn’t fantasized about that before tonight..”
Wayne: “RIGHT AFTER SUPERNATURAL…”
Brad is still relatively speechless. He genuinely can’t believe what just happened. I don’t blame him one bit.
Dead Bodies: Sexy CIA agent Kathie Lee is seducing Russian spy Ryan, trying to steal secret codes that he has hidden somewhere on his person, Wayne enters as a rival female spy who also wants the codes
Yep, Dead Bodies is back this season! And this is how we found out.
Aisha: “trying to steal secret codes that he has hidden somewhere on his person”
Aisha: “she’s already getting into character”
As the scene starts, Kathie-Lee is still seducing Ryan. Colin has to go ‘…you’re dead’ for Kathie Lee to snap into place. It’s some of the funniest timing I’ve seen in a while, and, again, it doesn’t tear the scene up.
So Colin does a line for Ryan, which goes well. Then he tries to do one for Kathie Lee
Colin: “I’ll do some Russian dancing…”
Ryan immediately smirks as Colin puts Kathie Lee there. And then Colin has to move Kathie-Lee’s head directly out of Ryan’s crotch, which is a very fun move.
Sure enough, Colin has Ryan start spanking Kathie Lee, AND SURE ENOUGH…
The struggle of Colin hopping Wayne over to the chair reminds me that Colin is doing this game again despite still having the back issues that caused them to phase it out. He seems to be doing alright so far.
Colin plops Kathie Lee in between Wayne and Ryan, and as Kathie Lee is doing TOO GOOD of a job being dead:
Wayne just starts giggling after a few seconds. Again, I don’t blame him
Colin as Wayne: “YOU WILL DIE UNLESS YOU GIVE ME THE SECRETS.”
Colin, as Ryan: “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something here?”
PFFFF. I love that line. Just rationalizing the ridiculousness of the scene
Then Colin makes Kathie Lee do this:
Which means Colin has to go behind the chairs to operate Kathie Lee and give us this visual:
Colin, from behind them: “I FOUND WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR!”
That alone is funny, because disembodied voices always make me laugh on this show
Colin, peaking his head up: “I HOPED IT WOULD BE BIGGER.”
Kathie Lee: “I haven’t had a night like this in a long time…”
Brad comes in for a hug as she says this. Again, she’s making the atmosphere chaotic, but she’s doing it in lawful ways. Everyone still loves performing with her. It’s not like Chyna where it’s repulsive.
Aisha comments on the ‘total physical commitment to that bit’. “We should probably get her a visit to the chiropractor after that…”
Brad: “I’LL WORK OUT HER KINKS.”
So yeah, another insanely fun game that was more spectacle than improv but still funny. Colin had a lot of really funny moves in operation, and Kathie Lee was more than capable of playing dead and being funny. Not as explosive as Duet, but still a funny game of this.
Scenes from a Hat:
“Odd things to be turned on by.”
Brad: “this is a two-hour video of Kathie Lee Gifford…”
“I can’t stop watching it…I have this recurring dream where-”
Ryan, entering: “OH IS BRAD IN IT? BRAD’S IN IT.”
“What’s she doing to Brad???”
This is the funniest part, to me. Everyone leaves but Wayne. Like the end of a U2 concert. One by one they all leave one man behind.
Aisha: “GET AWAY FROM THERE.”
THAT IS JUST THE FIRST SCENE
Brad: “I just like ONE shade of grey…”
Brad: “thank you.”
“Unlikely things to hear on a morning show.”
Brad, inevitably: “So, Hoda, last night I made love to Brad Sherwood…”
Colin, with the literal interpretation: “…it’s midnight.”
“weird things to see in a nature documentary”
I love Brad and Wayne’s wordless ‘monkeys on cellphones’ scene. Hell, it might be the same monkey character Brad played in WN.
Ryan, with binoculars: “OHHHH YEEEAHHH…make a cub, that’s it…”
Wayne does a good wordless one as a deer who hears a gunshot:
A pretty good SFAH. Not as wild as E7’s, but pretty good, and with some nice runner-based stuff
Helping Hands: Ryan, hands by Colin is an upbeat celebrity chef appearing on Kathie Lee’s morning show demonstrating how to prepare the perfect breakfast
As Kathie Lee enters, she makes a clear glance at Brad in the back. Of course.
Already this has a very loose mood. I love Colin’s uncontrollable hand gestures when Ryan says that the griddle is hot, and also the way he catches a pancake as he flips it.
Kathie Lee is an active participant in the pancake concoction Ryan’s gonna imbibe, and is working well with Ryan for this outcome. Again, she knows enough about improv to know when to take part and when to be lawful.
I also love the moment where Colin shoves his jam-covered fingers towards Ryan’s mouth and Ryan has no choice but to lick.
Ryan: “I have a special way of warming up that butter.”
Colin: [brings pancake hand towards Ryan’s ass]
I love that. A complete refusal on Ryan’s part. Telling off Colin. So damn funny.
Ryan: “Are you gonna squeeze the oranges onto the pancake?”
Kathie Lee: “Then you don’t have to drink your orange juice!”
Ryan: “VIVA LA BREAKFAST!”
Here, Ryan has to do some directing of Colin as where the plate is, where the knife is, and it’s very funny and amusing seeing Ryan struggling with this. Kathie-Lee gets a kick out of it too
Ryan: “now, I want to see you eat that WHOOOLE THING.”
Kathie-Lee says that “the message in the bible is…to feed the hungry”, and then goes back towards Brad. YES. She KNOWS that her and Brad has been the runner of the show, and she knows that giving it back to Brad is bridging the runner all throughout the show. THIS IS A SMART MOVE.
Also, this is the only time Kathie-Lee brings up her devout christianity on the show, and, in the words of Spence 12Medbe, “she only brings out her faith in order to contribute to a running joke”. That is the sign of someone who is wise in the ways of improv, and is fully onboard with this show.
Jesus Christ. This is very funny, but it works so well in the realm of the game and the show, even if it is, similar to the Penn and Teller show, slightly game-breaking.
Kathie Lee, going into Colin’s hands: “Wayne wants some too.”
And she just casually slaps Colin’s hands and heads back. Again, someone in full control of the scene.
And, back with Wayne…
Good lord. All of these people are married…hey, except Wayne, so it’s cool
Ryan, barely in character: “you know…sometimes these cooking segments can be boring…but you just made this a special day for me…please, shove the rest of the pancake in my mouth.”
THAT is perfect. Usually he rejects the disgusting food ending, but this time the game has been inverted and he knows that it’s the thing that will be the perfect ending to this game. That is a big culminating move in the history of this show.
Ryan, perfectly: “AND BY THE WAY…don’t be gentle.”
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The zoom makes it.
That was a phenomenal Helping Hands. It started off as a really good variation on the usual ‘putting together odd food’ type of this game with great support from Kathie Lee, but then Kathie Lee broke the game and it became less about finishing the scene and more about summing up the entire show, which was a huge move. Her shoving food in Brad, Wayne and Ryan’s mouth was a perfect way to bring the whole show full circle and leave them with a big ending. And again, she was relatively lawful in terms of improv but most of all she knew where the funny was, and she kept bringing it there no matter what. And I respect that.
Ryan, summing the whole thing up: “SHE TURNED THE TABLES!”
Colin: “I get nothing…except…stuff on my hands.”
Aisha, perfectly: “welcome to sex, buddy.”
Yeah, I think that was an international-only line
Even the credit reading is great, with Kathie Lee throwing coffee in Wayne’s face
Ryan: “did you hear they have a meth lab in studio four?”
Kathie-Lee: “THAT’S MINE!”
Kathie Lee has the best ending, slapping all four, muttering under her breath…and then smiling for the cameras. Yeah, she knows EXACTLY WHO SHE IS, and it’s fantastic that she made it on.
Overall: Phenomenal. One of the most insane, entertaining, randomly-horny WLs of all time, and I still love it. Honestly, I just wish that the non-guest games were up to par with the Kathie Lee ones, but…again, the producers are doing some subliminal stuff with that. Duet and Helping Hands are all-time guest games, and Dead Bodies was a pretty-high tier playing of that with some very fun, live moments. Questions already had some of the fun energy that was all over E7, and SFAH bridged some runners and did some fun stuff there.
I honestly feel like this one is better than the Richard Simmons one. Kathie-Lee Gifford was always on the side of the joke- we were never laughing at her, and if we were, it was because of how into it she was. She was able to sacrifice her integrity for laughs. That’s a few more dimensions than Simmons was- with him, it was ‘hey, laugh at the funny gay guy doing sexualized things’. This one, there’s the element of wine in play, there’s her willingness to do anything, there’s the entire Brad arc that she keeps coming back to, and there’s the fact that in Helping Hands, she knows what will get the laughs and bypasses Ryan’s plan to get there. Is it a bit strong? Yeah, of course it is. But when has Kathie-Lee not come off strong? It’s her thing.
Yeah, I’ll vouch for this one to the end. I still think that the Heather Morris episode is better, but that one was more of an improv-heavy, runner-heavy show that’s hard to beat anyway. Therefore, we still have a 10/10 show, and it’s still one of the best ones of this era. And…undoubtedly it’s one the fans will never forget once they’ve seen it.
[EPILOGUE. I looked back at my initial thoughts from when this aired back in 2015, and I knew it was a classic even then. My friend Marc’s reaction was “onto duet….annnnnnnd she’s fucking Brad.” We were all shellshocked, and impressed.]
Show Winners: All four
Best Performer: Brad Sherwood. For obvious reasons he was all over this show, but his improv moves in SFAH and Questions were befitting of a career night.
Worst Performer: Colin had the quietest night.
Best Game: I wanna say Duet because that was the highlight-maker, but Helping Hands made up for everything Duet lacked in improv ability and became a big, climactic, show-tying game. I talk a lot about how I love games and moments that think about WL as a story show as well as a comedy show, and that game was the best ending to the story of this episode that we could have possibly gotten.
Worst Game: Scenes from a Hat was the most simple.
Guest Star Rating: 10/10. Kathie Lee was the best kind of into things, and every chaotic thing that happened points to this.
COMING UP NEXT: We’ve reached the era of whosers attending tapings. This is one a friend of mine from Ireland attended. It’s a Jonathan taping where both Jonathan and his marriage get the crap beaten out of them.