Two heroes have arrived on Whose Line, as we get set up for a great Tony Slattery episode, and another poor John Sessions performance. First, Sandi Toksvig, fast-talker and future host of QI, as well as future comedy partner to Noel Fielding, is here tonight, but more importantly, RYAN STILES, the guy who’d stick with the show for the next thirty-odd years, is in the building for the first of MANY times. This will be a nice one.
Ah yes, look how innocent he looks. I don’t think he thought he’d be doing this for the rest of his life.
Authors: A Shopping Trip to buy Moby Dick
Sandi: Ed McBain
Tony: Sunday color supplement gadget catalogue
John: Virginia Woolf
Here we get the ‘a shopping trip’ suggestion that prompts Clive, in 2×04, to say ‘that’d be original on any other show, but we just had that yesterday’, which is proof that this taping happened the day before E4 taped.
Clive, being Clive: “My grandfather caught Moby Dick…….they’ve cured that now..”
I’ll note that Ryan has a great deal of time to start the story, doing well there, and that Sandi’s American accent, yes, thanks to her upbringing, is pretty damn strong and basically natural to her.
John’s bit, AS PER USUAL, is more about boosting his knowledge of the author and less about actually keeping the story going, but Ryan brings it back on track: “Mrs. Galloway was given a survey to list the three things she most looked for in a man. #1, a good sense of humor, #2 was a money….account…and #3 of course was a large penis-”
BUZZ. And already, we’ve gotten our first Ryan penis joke on WL. It’s been, what, 4 minutes exactly.
Sandi, continuing from ‘penis’: “…..was one of the largest that’d ever been seen in the precinct, to be exact…”
She then has a pretty insane pun: “He carried on, ruthlessly- “what the hell happened to ruth?”, he thought-”
Tony, who can’t resist: “…and of course, a penis that not only mows the lawn and changes the baby…”
That was a really funny and successful Authors, one that actually improved by the 2nd round, just as the talk of penises came about, even if they’d lost the Moby Dick plot (and John, of all people, tried getting it back-”
Ah yes, an improv warm-up standard that only got a few playings here, and thrived a bit more on shows like Green Screen Show and Improv-A-Ganza, which are more audience based and less structured-improv based.
Ryan starts with one of his standards of “I am sorry, John, I ruined the whole party…”
Sandi: “Please, God, when I wake up, could there be a very tall, nice man there- [looks to Ryan] OH HELLO!”
Sandi: “Would you like to see some of my nice toyyys-”
Ryan: “No, I’m supposed to have sex with you, from what I’ve heard….might as well get to it…”
Sandi: “Okay, I’ll lower the sides of the cot.”
Tony sees a golden opportunity:
Sandi pulls a fast one by tapping out Ryan, and going “…..I was savin’ you from yerself, my son…”
This ends with a surprisingly powerful, dramatic scene with Ryan and Tony, with Tony getting really nervous about free-falling and Ryan getting very anxious about the drop-zone, and it ends…beautifully.
Note- after starting off the game, John never went in again- the whole game was dominated by Tony, Ryan and Sandi. Fitting.
Expert: Tony interviews Ryan about frogs
Another new game, one that got playings in these few early series.
Reasons why Ryan is the greatest: Within five seconds of Tony starting the scene, Ryan starts waggling his tongue like a frog. There is no learning curve with this man.
Also, proving that Ryan is great at firing back at someone, after he mentions a Vegas Showgirl stage of frog metamorphosis
Tony: “And, uh, in connection with that there is a dance called the Mexican tadpole dance. Would you like to do it?”
Ryan, rebounding instantly: “Yes…please join me, as you know it takes two.”
Tony, somehow not expecting that: “…alright…”
Also, Ryan flings back at Tony after Tony asks how his relationship with Henry Kissinger went, by punctuating his sentence with “and I hear YOU’RE now dating him…”
Tony does end victorious, by making Ryan do an impression of a frog giving birth to spawn, which makes him crack a bit, before actually doing it, with Tony’s help, to end the game. Hysterical playing, simply because you had two performers who were up for it.
Interview: Sandi, from Desert Island Disks, interviews John, who is Zeus
Like Expert, but with more prescribed traits.
Note that the second John and Sandi get up for this game, Ryan and Tony just start losing it laughing back at the seats, either still from the last game or at something Tony or John said right before. Either way, it’s very amusing.
The initial reveal of Zeus being Scottish (owing to Sessions’ own upbringing), is pretty nice, gets a good reaction.
Dare I say it, but John’s portrayal as Zeus on a music-based radio programme is actually really good, as he’s allowed to do great character work and have emotion, without coming off too strong or leaving Sandi out.
Sandi: “And what final thing would you take with you? What luxury?”
John: “…I think I’d take a picture of you, Sue, that I can kick…”
A pretty quaint, character-driven scene that’s brought out John’s best work on the show. Not bad for a show that everyone attributes to Ryan Stiles.
World’s Worst: Person to Lead an Army Into Battle
Ryan: “….YOU GUYS LOOK *GREAT!*”
Tony: “Okay, men, just watch out for mines, I know this ar-BOOOM!”
Ryan: “…..who did I give the bullets to??”
Sandi: “It is NOT as bad as I say. There ARE more of them, but we’ve got the GUN!”
Tony, hopping on one leg: “Now, rumor has it that I can’t lead my men into battle, well that’s not true!”
Ryan: “Remember, just the germans…no frogs! [does his frog tongue thing from Expert]”
Really nice round, though not a single laugh from John.
Props: Ryan and Tony vs. John and Sandi
Tony: “…it is a cheap episode of Doctor Who, and I’m one of the flipper people…”
More trading barbs with Ryan and Tony: Ryan takes 4 seconds while the camera’s on him to think, then shoves the prop at Tony, completely blank. Later, Tony does a suggestion that involves just whacking Ryan with the prop a few times.
Not a great round, but at least had good teamwork.
Tony: Character from The Great Escape
Ryan: Thinks he’s an insect.
John: pretentious student poet (so…himself)
SANDI HOSTS? I mean, you’ve got Tony on hand, but…I mean, whatever works.
Ryan: ‘So happy to be here- HEY, WHO BROUGHT THE TURDS??”
Clive chews out Sandi for not making her guesses clear enough
Clive, as Sandi lets John in: “…I think you’ve been guessed, Tony”
Tony: “Oh, GOOD!”
Good enough game, though John killed the humor, and Clive was a bit too intrusive in making Sandi guess when she was just making offhanded comments.
Remote Control: Sheep Shearing
Ryan: Jacques Cousteau
Sandi: Body Matters
Tony: Jim’ll Fix It
John: The Sky at Night
Sandi: “Hello…does your body matter? Mine doesn’t, as you can see…”
Tony, in a great Jimmy Savile impression: ‘Well, eh, as it happens, this sheep, wrote in and said that he’s, uh, like to switch places with the Duchess of York…and we did it, and no one noticed any difference…”
Sandi: “We’ve got Joan Collins here, it’s a bit of an example of mutton dressed up as lamb…”
Tony, who must have known something: “The other thing that Mavis, the little sheep, wanted to do, was to make love with a clapped out DJ, so we’re gonna do that…”
Nice game- Ryan was underused, John, as usual, was overused.
Overall: Had it not been for an awkwardly-led Party Quirks, the unfunniness of John Sessions, and a kind of blah Props round, this would have been the first 10/10 show of the series, but for now the Bruno Tonioli impression will have to wait. John, as usual, wasn’t remotely funny, despite a nice round of Interview. Sandi had a great debut, and had some really nice lines throughout the show. Ryan had an incredible debut, already displaying the mood and charisma we’d come to expect from him on the show…but again, I have to give this to Tony Slattery for, again, mastering every scene he’s in, and having a truly great second half of the show, especially with his Jimmy Savile impression. A really nice one, one that’s watchable other than just being ‘Ryan’s first show’.
Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Tony, just narrowly defeating Ryan
Worst Performer: John. Especially when three truly great improvisers are on, he just stood out in a bad way tonight.
Best Game: Expert. Nearly gave this to Tag, but Ryan and Tony’s dynamic was electric, and they were working off each other at every second.
Worst Game: Party Quirks. It seemed unfairly tampered with, and nothing had any time to really develop.