Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E04 or BREASTS!

Well, seeing as the Greg-Colin-Ryan-Tony matchup worked so well the first time, let’s do it again!

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Tony and Greg (sculptor and model)

A very confused Clive getting suggestions: “Rocky Blossom? BLOSSOM?”
Tony: “…the Rocky Blossom Horror Show…”
Clive: “What is Blossom? Is that shoe polish or something?”
Greg: “It’s an American sitcom, homeboy…”
Clive: “Right, jolly good, Blossom. We’ll start with that, I think.”
Greg: [winces]

It’s great, as Greg does monologuing in the Tennessee Williams style, he goes further and further upstage, closer and closer to the camera.
Tony, coming from behind Greg and grabbing his chest: “You’re not married anymore..”

Clive buzzes while Tony is still grabbing Greg.
Clive: “Let’s try a bit of Blossom.”
Greg: “…well I am a 13-year-old girl coming of age…”
Clive: “That’s quite enough of that, then.”

A quick game of this, with some funny moments but an overall truncated feeling about it. I could have gotten more out of each style.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Colin and Ryan (snorkeling teacher and new snorkler)

Clive: “Noh theater…oh, so films then? Nono…”
Ryan chuckles at that one.

Clive: “Amateur dramatics. That’s essentially what’s going on before your eyes already, but…”

Ryan: “Before we go underwater, Phil, I want you to review the snorkeling equipment with me. Now, this is?”
Colin: “A SNORKLE?”
Ryan: “Right. This is?”
Colin: “A TANK.”
Colin: “…My bathing suit!”

The first style is John Wayne, so it’s an excuse for Ryan to use his John Wayne impression for the first (of MANY) times. Colin does well as an ornery bystander in a western.

Erotic Thriller:
Colin, jumping into the water: “…splash.”
Ryan, following him, even more sotto voce: “…splish…”

Romantic comedy style, Colin and Ryan start splashing each other, to the point where, by the end, Ryan’s splashing Colin using only his butt.
Clive: “…Ryan, do that movement again…”

The scene ends on Biker Movie, where Ryan tries revving up a motorcycle but falling back into the water, which is a great visual.

Much better scene, with much more funny moments in it, and the whole burgeoning Colin-Ryan duo.

Old Job New Job: Tony and Colin are Kindergartners. Ryan, an ex-cowboy, is their teacher.

Tony, top of the scene, to Colin: “If you’re…5 years old…why are you losing your hair?”
Colin: [starts crying]

And then, without a word of dialogue, Ryan enters, throws a lasso, ties up Colin and starts trying to brand him. It’s the silliest goddamned thing.

Tony, as Ryan is instructing Colin, winds up kicking Ryan in the behind. Ryan immediately turns to Tony,…then cocks his gun.

Short scene, but incredibly funny.

Film Dub: Ryan and Greg are on a date gone wrong

Greg: “Darling, it’s tuesday night, it’s hot dog night! Cover me in mustard like you usually do…”

There’s a moment where Greg’s character reenters in a gown, and Ryan’s character is still sitting down.
Ryan: “Not at all, come and have a seat on the admiral.”
Clive laughs at this for 10 to 15 seconds. It’s the hardest I’ve heard him laugh in years.

Not a great Film Dub, but that one line had Clive in stitches.

Sound Effects: Colin arrives at the office. Ryan supplies sound effects.

The scene begins with a great lowbrow joke- Colin presses a button for the elevator, which emits a ‘frrrt’ noise. Colin then airs himself out behind him.

They’ve already gotten good at this game- Colin has learned to not supply as much dialogue, and Ryan has perfected his patented ‘SQQQUEAKY’ noise. There’s a whole running gag where Colin greases the door, runs up a whole flight of stairs, opens another door…and another ‘SQUEAKY’ noise…which he has to oil again.

Colin: “Hello Ms. Buxley.”
Ryan: “BOING.”
(Somewhere, from 20 years in the future, Aisha Tyler starts howling)

The scene ends with the copy machine going out of control, and Colin nearly getting his foot stuck in it. We’re nowhere near the amount of destruction we’d get to with this game, but we’re getting close.

Pretty great playing though. This game’s beginning to come into its own.

World’s Worst: Clip from a Nature Documentary

So now we’re just getting into Scenes We’d Like to See territory..

Ryan: “…We followed the wild antelope for almost 3 weeks…HOW D’YOU WANT YOURS DONE, PHIL?”
Greg: “Tonight on World of Nature, we explore the act of human procreation…with my wife and I. GET READY EVERYBODY!”
[Clive: “No, go ahead…”]
Ryan, back to the camera: “BAAAAAHHH”
Tony, channeling Frankie Boyle: “One of the best things you can do to these charming chihuahuas…is to set fire to them…”
Colin: “Now. How do you put the leopard back together?”
[I always laugh at that one]

Fantastic round, very indicative as to the quick-fire, all-funny places we’d go to with this game once SFAH dies down.

Props: Colin and Greg vs. Ryan and Tony

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 3.56.09 PM.pngColin: “…LAAA…”

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 3.56.50 PM.pngRyan: “…Flintstones…MEET THE FLINTSTONES…”

Very nice round, as the answers have become the right amount of bizarre.

Scene to Music: Ryan and Greg are in a supermarket

…kinda similar to last episode’s scene description, eh?

The music that kicks in is, well, the music that will eventually become the theme to Mission Impossible once they start playing it. Once it hits, Ryan starts furiously throwing items into his shopping cart, as if he’s racing Greg.

There is a motion Ryan does…where he grabs an object, puts it in the cart, and has his leg wide open, that he just does for 5 seconds and it cracks up the audience. It’s just that simple.

Not a ton of substance, but just a fun, amusing as hell scene.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Greg: character in a video game
Colin: thinks he’s an ant
Ryan: motorbike stunt rider

Tony starts by putting his hand to his ear.
Clive: “Up- party’s ready?”

Tony, as Colin comes in with his antennae, cracks up audibly for the first time in the game’s history. It will happen on a regular basis starting next series.

Ryan does something brilliant- he gets tony and Colin to crouch on all fours right next to the party step…then LEAPS OVER BOTH OF THEM with his motorcycle. It’s not only a great improv move, but it’s great that he was able to do that without hurting Colin.

The second Tony gets back to his seat after guessing everybody, he says something to Ryan, then does the antennae thing Colin was doing all game. He was still genuinely amused by it.

Helping Hands: Greg learns to conduct a picnic from Ryan (ft. Colin’s hands)

This game very quickly goes into the usual Helping Hands formula- Greg mentions a food, then Colin picks it up and attempts to shove it into Ryan’s mouth. Ryan eventually has a bite of hard boiled egg with a bit of shell in there, which puts us at a great start.

Of course, immediately afterwards, Ryan spits it out and throws it behind him, for the first of many times in this game’s history.

Then, Ryan grabs the chicken, starts pulling pieces apart…and dances with it as the pieces dangle from each other.

This actually gets really funny once Ryan loses complete control of things, mixing champagne with chicken and egg, and then juggling random things around.

Greg: “How about a banana to close things off-”
Ryan: “What do you mean by that?”

The ending is the piece de resistance- Colin slowly, gently peels the banana, and Ryan goes for a seductive performance, with the banana in hand, throwing the peel away like a striptease. Greg even starts fanning himself.

Then, right as Greg’s about to eat the banana out of Colin’s hand…the banana breaks in half and drops to the floor. Clive thankfully buzzes after that.

A Helping Hands game that definitely got better as it went along, once Ryan realized how batshit insane things were getting.

Hoedown: Motorways

Clive introduces the game, ‘which is probably called High-down in America for all I know…”

And then, upon getting the subject, Clive turns to the panel and goes “Motorways. ‘Big roads’ I think you call them in America.”
Greg already looks done.
Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 4.14.41 PM.png

Greg’s verse is, well, in response to all of that:
“When I was in England, I met me a man,
He was shining bald his name was Clive Ander-saaan
There was some confusion, I said where’s the freeway
And THAT is how you get back at Clive for all the America jokes. That had been building since the episode began.

Then, Ryan does a ‘sign of the cross’ over his chest before his verse, which, if anything, sums up how much he despises the Hoedown.

Ryan’s verse ends in typical Ryan fashion:
“I love to watch the bugs as they splat against my glass
The last thing that goes through their mind is their big fat ass!”

Tony’s starts pretty well:
“I like the motorways where the things go splat
I look outside my window as I run over a cat.”
He ends by cursing out the ‘stupid bastard who designed the M25″

Really nice hoedown from everybody, even if it’s being fueled by hate.

The credit reading as great- Colin, Ryan and Greg win…and have to read the credits AS Tony Slattery. Greg prances across the stage and grabs onto Colin. Ryan spends most of the time fixing his mic. After a while, Greg just starts saying dirty things about the crew while Colin continues prancing. Ryan, finally done fixing his mic, just yells “BREASTS!”

Overall: A very okay show. I feel like there were more funny moments and more consistency the first time these four got together. The funnier moments were in the middle bit of the show, usually reserved for the quick-fire games- World’s Worst, Old Job New Job, Sound Effects and Scene to Music had great moments, but weren’t very fleshed out, while the more showcase-y scenes weren’t completely great. It’s not the fault of the cast, as nobody outright made any faux pas, but I feel like there was probably better stuff on the cutting room floor.

Show Winners: Everyone but Tony
Best Performer: Ryan, for getting back to his S4-era dominance.
Worst Performer: Tony, who had a more passive show, and was overshadowed by the three north american talents.
Best Game: World’s Worst. Phenomenal all the way through. Sound Effects, Hoedown and Film and Theatre Styles v2 were considered.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Other than the admiral line, nothing too great.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E03, or This is Just Lapsing into Personal Abuse..

[exhales deeply]

I can’t say that Whose Line is it Anyway would even be a relevant topic right now if it weren’t for Paul Merton. The man took the show by storm from the very start, and made even dire episodes seem amusing and fun, giving this sort of ‘don’t-care’ demeanor while doing really good improv, and working well with people like Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery.

Tonight…is Paul’s last show. After appearing sporadically the last two series, Paul would decide to stop appearing on the show thanks to his numerous other commitments, one of which, Have I got News for You, would continue to this day. He’d still remain a popular member of the improv circuit, and would definitely remain friends with the Comedy Store Players gang, but this would be the end of his WL involvement, which is a shame, as it would have been great to see him intermix with more of the Colin-Ryan-Brad crowd like Tony and Josie would.

Not only is this Paul’s last appearance, but this is also the last episode of UK Whose Line where the panel would be made up entirely of, well, people from the UK. Paul, Jim Sweeney, Steve Steen and Tony Slattery would either cease to be on the show or appear only surrounded by Americans from here on out.

Authors: Death of a Stand-Up Comic
Jim: Agatha Christie
Steve: Andrew Morton
Paul: Hello! Magazine
Tony: Rhyming Couplets of Rupert Bear

Clive announces the title suggestion, Death of a Stand-Up Comic. Paul immediately clutches his chest.
…or perhaps he was doing his impression of Tony Blair having his third heart attack of the day.

Steve: “It could have been so much bad for him…”
Clive, shaking his head: “…so MUCH BAAAD for him…”
Steve: “That’s Andrew Morton for ya..”

Tony: “Rupert spied his trousers on.
Much nicer they were, than Paul Mert-on’s.”

Somehow, everyone starts talking about Barbara Cartland, until we get to Tony again:
Tony: “Barbara Cartland, witch and hag
Too much makeup, fascist bag.”

Nice enough game, quicker pace than the older ones, and a funny final quick round.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Paul (prisoner and jailer)

Paul [immediately turns to Clive]
Paul: “…I think you’re as guilty as hell after that last read…”

Clive: “Horror”
Tony, looking over Paul: “…What a horrible suit…”
Tony: Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 3.21.33 PM.png

Paul: “…That’s good, coming from someone who’s dressed up as DOC HOLLIDAY…”
Clive: “…this is just lapsing into personal abuse..”

The children’s nativity style is great, because both sort of blither about and waddle around forgetting lines. Then, the second Clive buzzes in, Tony lets out a burp, which frightens Paul.
Tony: “i did that, actually, I did that in a nativity play, I burped, so-”
Paul, turning to Clive: “So it’s like personal insight…”

Film Noir
Paul: “Listen Norris…”
Tony [looks behind him]
Paul: “You’re never gonna get out of- YES, THAT’S YOUR NAME!”

Tony, smoking a cigarette: “Yes, it’s interesting the way the li-”
Paul: “HANG ON, WHERE’D THE CIGARETTE COME FROM??? WHAT’S ALL THIS? Oh, scuse me while I get on me MOPED…”
Clive: “…it’s a long time since you’ve been on this show, Paul…”

Clive: “Doctor Who”
Tony goes to the back of his cell, attempting to possibly do something zany. Paul opens the cell door, comes in, and goes ‘WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’

Tony: “Have you noticed that this cell is bigger inside than it is outside?”
Paul: “Yes, though you can say the same thing about my underpants!”

Tony ends the scene, in pirate style, by flying out of the bars and encouraging people to escape with him.
Paul, exiting the cell: “BUT I’M THE JAILER!”

With that, the scene ends, and might I say that was absolutely insane. Tony and Paul were so damned loose the whole time that it was damn near impressive. Yes, it wasn’t the greatest improv, but it was still quite funny.

Clive even gives ‘-9 points to Tony Slattery for taking it all too seriously…’

Foreign Film Dub: The Turkish Film ‘Going to Scotland’, acted by Steve and Jim, dubbed by Paul and Tony

Finally this game debuts. Though it was only a matter of time.

Jim goes into this sing-songy Turkish dialect, which Paul translates as “…did you see the Eurovision song contest last night?”

Paul, after Jim says something else the same way: “…I’ve just said exactly what I just said the first time…”

After Steve shoves an entire pack of cigarettes in his mouth and says a line
Tony: “…at my age, you’re starved of love…”

Steve then runs his finger along Jim’s arm, which manages to crack Jim up.
Tony: “Coochie-coochie-coo…”
Jim retorts something back but goes into Scottish a bit, and breaks.
Paul: “…it’ll cost you 50 quid…”

Pretty solid game, though we’d definitely get to higher heights with it once Ryan starts translating.

Clive: “My apologies to the Turkish community…and also to the Scottish community because they never got anywhere NEAR Scotland…”

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Buying a doll with a pull-out string.”
Tony, using the power of an oxford comma: “I WANT A DOLL PLEASE” [pulls own string]
Jim: “Mother, get back in the car…”

Clive: “Deep-sea divers watching a football match…”
Jim, to Paul: “I still think the pitch is waterlogged…”

Clive: “A pecking order for fruit.”
Tony, not at all understanding: “…ME FIRST??”

Clive: “Queen bee selecting a suitor.”
Jim, as said bee: “…fancy a shag?”
Tony: “…I don’t think you’ll want me, I’m Gyles Brandreth.”

Clive: “Odd things to celebrate.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 3.39.29 PM.png
They hold this for 10 seconds. Nobody can think of one. Then, finally:
Paul: “I had me first piss 35 years ago…”

Clive: “Things you wouldn’t expect to find in a kangaroo’s pouch.”
Tony, stifling laughter: “…LORD LUCAN!”

Clive: “Joyriding Elephants.”
Paul, not missing the golden opportunity: “COME ON, JOY, GET OFF THERE…”

Probably the best Scenes from a Hat we’re gonna get in this era of WL. Top to bottom hysterical.

Props: Tony and Steve vs. Jim and Paul

You can tell Tony has absolutely no idea to do with his- after Jim has a nice ‘LARGE FRIES, LARGE FRIES’ joke with his…Tony just repeats the joke with his prop. Poor guy.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 3.43.51 PM.png

Still a pretty nice round, even if I didn’t write a lot down.

Alphabet: Paul and Jim (in a confessional) Starting with J

Once the starting letter is announced, Paul starts counting his fingers, figuring out which letters he’s got.
Clive: “It’s too late to start revising the alphabet, Paul…”

Once Paul gets to q, he realizes he’s shit out of luck, and that Jim’s way better than he is at this game, so he takes a minute…goes ‘um….Q?? Um…WHAT WORD BEGINS WITH Q?”
Clive: “The word Queue does..”
Paul: “Okay. QUEUE….GARDENS is where i buried him…”

This game limps along, as Paul’s not great, and, like in F&TS, points it out a lot, so he even goes ‘YEAH’…highlights it, and then tries thinking of a C.

A bit haphazard, and they completely lost the plot, but still amusing as all hell.

Scene to Music: Jim and Steve (at a greengrocers)

Hard to believe, our first true Sweeney and Steen game of the show.

Even better, the music is, well, the music typically used for ‘Film Noir’, so they essentially go into a game of Narrate, which is always welcome.

Jim: “This is good coleslaw, how much is it- [aside]- I knew how much it was, I’d seen the price already, but I wanted him to tell me…”
Steve: “…I found his request extraordinary, because the price was clearly written up on the board…”

Very fun scene, though I feel like it stopped right as it was about to get going. Interesting, as recently the scenes have been just the right duration, and Clive’s been more lenient with letting scenes go on than he was in S1.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Steve: racing commentator
Jim: thinks Paul is giving birth
Tony: a chippendale dancer

Clive tells the audience that Paul has to guess who these people are, “and so have I, as I’ve lost the list of what they’re doing…”

Clive: “Is the party underway, Paul?”
Paul, absolutely done with this shit: “YES.”

Paul does very well at guessing Steve and Jim….and THEN…IN COMES TONY…

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 4.01.43 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-30 at 4.01.58 PM.png

As Tony writhes around, he’s not saying a word, and neither is Paul. Paul is just taking everything in. As Tony straddles something, Paul peers behind him.

Tony, finally: “Have you got any twiglets?”
Paul: “YOU HAVE, by the look of it…”

Then Tony lowers his trousers a bit, and crouches down.
Paul: “…”
Tony then lowers his trousers even more and starts showing skin to the audience.”
Paul: “…”

Paul finally tries pulling Tony’s trousers back up, which Tony giggles at.

Then, finally, as Tony recovers, Paul thinks back to the Paul slam at the beginning of the night, and finally returns

Then, back at the seats, Tony finally tells Paul what he was, and Paul cracks up.

March: Vegetables

One of the last marches, or non-Hoedowns, to be performed on the show, though, to be honest, I can’t see Paul Merton doing a Hoedown.

Also, March is at a different key this time, at the key reserved for the last verse, or the Mike McShane verse.

Jim and Steve have nice, funny verses, but the second we get to Paul he’s confused, disgusted and not looking forward to his verse. So nothing’s changed.

Paul does have a nice enough verse, operating outside of the time that Richard’s setting, and being similar to a Stephen Fry verse in anything. Still gets it done though.

Tony ends admirably, giving what must be one of his first few Anne Diamond slams, saying his least favorite vegetables “are the two from Good Morning with Anne and Nick.”

Overall: A very outside-the-box hysterical show. Not a single bad game, and not even a single ‘okay’ game. Everything was pretty damn great, and everyone was really on tonight. It helped that Sweeney and Steen have become less ‘spotlight’ performers, and more auxiliary performers, helping out big time in group scenes, while still having great duo scenes. From here on out though, it won’t really be ABOUT them, as the Ryan-Colin duo’s about to take off, but they still are fantastic team players. Paul was less put-together than he’s been, improv-wise, but he was still hysterical tonight, proving how much we’re gonna miss him. Tony was the highlight here, elevating all his scenes, taking the games seriously even with Paul, and…for the entirety of his party quirks round. Just a phenomenal show, and proof that we’re gonna miss the heart-and-soul of these UK lineups.

Winners: All four
Best Performer: Tony Slattery, for still coming head-over-heels above a panel of three people just as good as he is.
Worst Performer: Steve Steen. Still doesn’t have much to do on his own.
Best Game: Scenes from a Hat. Funny all the way through.
Worst Game: Hard to choose, but by default I’ll go with Foreign Film Dub, just because it could have gone a bit farther.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E02, or SCREW IT, WE’LL HAVE KETCHUP!

I feel like I treat, well, bad one-off performances during the Series 5-10 era of UK WL differently than the bad one-off performances in the first bit of the run. From Series’ 1 to 4, the show was finding their groove, and were relying on a ton of different options and seeing which ones stuck and which didn’t- giving bad choices like Richard Kaplan, George McGrath and Jan Ravens a shot, and it not going well, can be chalked up to the production just giving different performers a try.

However, now that Whose Line has a specific brand, and is stick with the sort of Ryan-Colin-Greg/Josie-Tony-Steve Frost type formula, the bad performers are a bit more jarring, because the tone is established and they simply don’t fit with it. And that’s honestly where tonight’s one-off fits in- Russell Fletcher is an Australian comic and improviser, and it doesn’t really say how much else he did. So fitting him with Ryan, Greg and Josie, three people who ARE good at this sort of thing, especially now that we KNOW they’re good at this sort of thing, is a bit suspect. But here we go anyway.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Greg and Ryan (repairing a space station)

As they walk upstage, Greg and Ryan are just playfully bouncing in unison. Ah, the start-of-the-taping energy. This will not last.

The scene begins with some pretty nice corresponding physicality and sound effects, and a nice amount of silence. You can tell these two are pros.

I didn’t think Ryan and Greg would be able to emulate the Restoration Comedy style, but they actually manage to nail it…though, befit to American ideologies.

Ryan: [beeping noises]
Ryan and Greg: [posh british laughing]

Escape movie, as Ryan escapes from the space station
Greg: “…you’ve forgotten your AIR HOSE you daft git…”

Clive buzzes in as Ryan’s still outside the space station
Clive: “Courtroom drama”
Greg: “…ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I stand alone….the defendant is outside, turning blue, and various colors of purple.”

Once they get back to the seats, once they double down on close-ups of Ryan and Greg, you can see, in Ryan’s, Josie’s hand brushing up against his face. At least that means she’s in a better mood tonight than she was in Series 4.

Film and Theatre Styles v2 – Josie and Russell (in the Australian outback)

So…they’re catering to Russell’s heritage right off the bat?

Clive: “Australian soap?”
Russell: “too hard.”

Josie starts the scene by explaining to Russell “I’m sorry, darling, but I’m not used to these Australian barbecues” in her usual British accent. Then she breaks into her regular, more Northern voice, and turns to the audience and goes “well, that’s got me out of the accent problem, hasn’t it?”
Then, just as Josie’s about to keep going, Clive buzzes in.
Clive: “No it hasn’t. Australian soap.”
Josie, groaning: “Oh, WRECK OFF…”

Russell, succumbing to the style: “I’m, uh, I’m gonna go surfin’…”
Josie, both as a character and as an improviser: “…You’re gonna go surfing in THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK???”

Say what you will about Russell, but at least he knows that a spaghetti western involves dubbing.

Josie spends the Tarzan style doing an ape impression.
Russell: “Cheetah, you make fabulous wife.”
Josie motions to Russell’s crotch area, then wards the audience off of him.

Not a bad scene, but it didn’t exactly go anywhere. Russell…wasn’t terrible. He didn’t do anything truly bad…yet.

Film Dub: Ryan, Greg and Josie

This is the first of two experimental film dubs this season- they have to dub over a washing powder advert, that even has some subtitles in it, so they…have to incorporate them into the dubbing.

This isn’t especially funny, because…like, there’s subtitles. They don’t really have to improvise. It’s only when Josie runs out, as the mother, going ‘PETER, COME BACK YOU LITTLE BASTAAAIRD’ in a French accent that this begins to get funny.

Suddenly, they cut to a doctor in the field, and Ryan just sort of goes with it
Ryan: “Hello, I’m here to talk to you about a wonderful product.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.33.47 PM.png
Ryan: “….”
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.34.22 PM.png
Ryan: “….ANTS.”
And I’m gone. This isn’t a great Film Dub, but I am laughing at that.

And then Ryan, as the pitchman, reveals that Gleen is nothing more than a box of ants: “We send them to you for practical jokes! For picnics!”

So yes, while this was a lower tier Film Dub because of its subtitling cacophony…at least Ryan had one of the best on-the-fly genre changes we’ve seen.

Song Styles: Josie sings an Irish Jig about a strimmer

Okay, here we go. Back to good old Song Styles. None of that ‘starting line and ending line’ nonsense. Just Josie, an object, and a style. It’s that simple.

Clive: “You do know what a strimmer is, right?”
Josie: “Yes, I think- what, like, round the sounds of the lawn.”
Clive: “…I think that’s a flower bed…”

Then, the second Richard kicks in with a flute, Josie starts energetically riverdancing away.

Not quite a classic, but still pretty good. Nice ending line too- ‘although I had a strimmer, I had nowhere to plug it in…’

World’s Worst: Thing to say before or during sex

Ryan, starting a trend: “OH…RYAN…”
Ryan, going into a Scotty impression: “…CAPTAIN THE ENGINES CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS…”
Greg: “20 bucks? Well, seeing as how you ARE a member of the royal family…”
Greg: “I’m wearing the Clive Anderson mask!”
Josie: “No, stop…I haven’t video’d Neighbours.”
[Russell gets a kick out of that one]

Really, really nice round. Great stuff all the way through. It’s even better, as Ryan uses topics like these to really shine.

Stand Sit Bend: Greg, Ryan and Russell are in a real estate agent’s office

Ah, here we go. Russell finally has to interact with Ryan and Greg. Let’s see how this goes.

Russell spends the first 30 or so seconds of the game…sort of watching Ryan and Greg. This is before he realizes he should at least do something, so he offers to fix Greg’s back…in lieu of a character.

Russell: “Is that better?”
Greg: “Yeah, I think all my spinal fluids just drained out of my body, thanks.”

Ryan’s strength in this game is throwing someone for a loop whenever they think they’re safe to stay put. Russell tries consoling Greg, but Ryan gets back up and forces Russell to lean again.

Then, at one point, Ryan and Russell change positions 4 times over the course of 5 seconds, trying to outdo the other. Greg is just trying to keep the scene going over the audience reaction.

There’s even a moment where Ryan goes to lean over and point something out…and Greg and Russell have a five second realization that they’re both still standing. So they struggle to get down.

Funny game, which again goes into hysteria the madder Ryan’s character gets, but Russell was surprisingly right there with them in this, despite the late start.

Scene to Music: Ryan and Josie (lost property office)

Josie: “hello, I’ve lost my suitcase.”
Ryan: “Well, I’m out to lunch, I’ve just lost my little ‘out to lunch’ thing.”

the music cue is some emotional, late-act romance theme, sort of like a swelling-moment for an emotional climax. Different than the intermixing-music from last show.

Ryan, nailing the type of 30s/40s delivery: “I can help you find it….but it won’t be easy. PEOPLE LOSE THINGS HERE EVERY DAAAAY. TELL ME…was there anything IN the case?”
Josie: “…MY LINGERIE!”
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.53.08 PM.png

JUST AS THE TRIUMPHANT ENDING BRASS HIT COMES, Ryan unbuttons his shirt, saying ‘I’VE FOUND IT’, and Josie is won over. It’s incredibly fitting that it comes exactly then, too.

Better than last episode’s, because they took the scene even further, while sticking so carefully to the style of music that it got even better the more they passionately overacted.

Party Quirks: Greg hosts
Russell: sheep shearer
Josie: thinks she’s a cat
Ryan: ice-hockey player

Clive: “Greg has to guess who the others are playing, and if he does…..we’ll, uh, have a GOOD GAME!”
[Greg cracks at this from the seats]

Russell, despite his general ineffectiveness, does manage to nearly pick up Greg around the waste while trying to do his shearing job. Yes, Greg does guess him rather easily, but he had to get nearly groped to do so.

Josie uses physicality and relationships with fellow performers as a strength; here she muzzles up to Greg while in character, as she literally disavows any inhibition and gives her entire self over to the character. I truly missed having her on, especially on a good day.

Then, in addition to the groping and nuzzling, Ryan starts beating down Greg when he disagrees with him. Poor, poor Greg.

There is a moment where Josie’s kneeling, licking around, and Ryan’s scooting around the stage, where Greg’s hopelessness reminded me slightly of Tony’s in this game…especially a future playing with Josie and Ryan (“uhhhh….ANYWAY, LET’S ALL DANCE!”)

Greg, seeing the fantastic irony: “…this is my very dear friend, Josie, the pussycat.”

Even as Greg guesses Ryan, I feel as though Ryan didn’t have a great idea of how Hockey especially works. And as a Canadian, he should feel ashamed.

Helping Hands: Josie is on a date with Ryan (ft. Greg’s hands) who plans to propose

Right in the beginning, Greg begins to pull Josie’s head downwards, but Ryan even goes “not yet.” I don’t think most of the audience caught this, but I sure did. Hell, that might have even been a Tony Slattery trick.

Josie, holding up the ketchup: “OH, YOU REMEMBERED THE KETCHUP.”
Ryan: “Yes, I remembered how much you love it.”
Josie: “…later…”

Ryan, for a spell, dances around with a rose between his teeth, then when Josie gets his attention he spits it offstage and looks at her, without missing a beat. The timing so far is impeccable.

[There’s a moment where Ryan clutches the ‘present’ from Josie close to his heart, and it hits his mic, so you hear a loud crunching noise.]

Greg takes the bottle of cologne, first throwing the container behind him because that works for a laugh in this game, and then spurting Ryan directly in the face with it, multiple times.

There’s a fantastic moment where Ryan attempts to play the violin, and tries to get Greg to place it on his shoulder, but just struggles for 10 seconds. It looks like he has a contact stuck in his eye.

Ryan: “There are so many parts of you that I want to caress, that I want to touch [smirk] sometimes I wish I had four hands, BUT I DO…”

Then, for another 10 seconds, Ryan watches as Greg struggles to get the bottle of champagne open. Neither of them know how.
Then, after it’s not going anywhere

And then Ryan gets Josie to pour him a glass of ketchup [as if the cat food from last time wasn’t enough]. Josie does has to stop and take off the protective wrapper before squirting some into the champagne glass, which is a funny touch. Then, because it’s just the bottle unfiltered, without the squeeze hole, Josie just squirts A TON OF KETCHUP into the glass, so much that even the audience is appalled.

The scene ends as Josie is already cracking up and Ryan is juuuust taking a sip of the ketchup.

That may have been an all-time high for Helping Hands. Every moment was hysterical, every prop led to something funny, Greg was legitimately clueless back there, Josie was able to contribute a ton, and…THEY DIDN’T EVEN GET TO THE PROPOSAL PART. THEY DIDN’T EVEN *NEED* TO. Oh god that was so fucking good.

Hoedown: Hairdressers

Clive intros this by telling them to come on down to the step, without saying the title. Once Clive starts explaining the game, pointing out Richard, Ryan immediately knows what he’s been tricked into playing and slams his head backwards.

Russell has a funny verse, relating back to his sheep-shearer role in Party Quirks, but his facial expression and annoyed voice does throw it over the line of annoying.

A step down from last hoedown, but they’re all beginning to get the hang of it, especially Ryan, against his wishes.

Overall: I wrote a lot, but what did I think? Well…I do think it was a step back from Episode 1, and I think the middle of this episode lulled a bit, resting on some contained-momentum type games that stopped things for a while. HOWEVER…around the end of Stand Sit Lean and definitely by the beginning of Scene to Music, this show reached a kind of dangerous, impenetrable energy, that couldn’t possibly be stopped, even by a Hoedown. The whole stretch from Scene to Music to Helping Hands is just…electric. Plus, the more electric the momentum got, the easier it was to tolerate Russell Fletcher, who brought up the rear of the show. Josie had her best show since the S3 UK tapings, Ryan excelled yet again, and Greg continues to build his momentum this year.

In terms of Russell…let’s be clear that during this watchdown, I’ve tried to defend a lot of the one-offs and people that are much maligned in this show’s history. I’ve defended occasional stints from Ron West and Archie Hahn, and have even spoken for people like Richard Kaplan and Lee Simpson, who weren’t as bad as the online community seem to think in my opinion. But Russell…wasn’t even what I’d call ‘bad’. He was just forgettable. He didn’t really do anything particularly illegal (mugging aside), but he also didn’t do anything that made me laugh. He’s just somewhere in the middle, and it was the kind of middle that the producers didn’t want to expand upon. So while he wasn’t great here, I wouldn’t put him with people like Sam Johnson or Jan Ravens near the bottom.

Show Winner: Ryan and Greg
Best Performer: Greg Proops, for dominating a show in the new, Stiles-governed era. Josie came exceptionally close.
Worst Performer: Russell Fletcher, for not having an especially memorable go of it.
Best Game: Helping Hands. I was not expecting to laugh that hard at Helping Hands, but by god it was phenomenal.
Worst Game: by default, Song Styles, for being ‘okay’ on a pretty solid show.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E01, or FLOOD!

After 4 seasons of building Whose Line into a well-oiled machine, and deciding who deserves to stay on the program…now, we coast.

Series 5, at least according to me, was one of the last seasons where any legitimate progress was felt, in terms of production trying to shift the picture. From here on out, we kind of know what we’re getting, and there won’t be any large-scale changes. After Paul Merton, Jim Sweeney and Steve Steen leave (this season), it’ll basically be the end of UK-led shows, and a step into the Ryan-and-Colin direction for good. Not that any of that’s a particularly bad thing, it’s just not as spontaneous as the first 4 series were.

Tonight features a lineup we’ll be seeing several times from now until Series 7- Greg Proops, Tony Slattery, Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie. At this point, these four’s inclusion together to start the show was nearly a foregone conclusion.

Tonight’s show is also the first of many to be shot at Whose Line’s new home, after their old studio home was used for more cinematic endeavors.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Robin Hood selecting his merry men.”
And we’re off to a rousing start

Clive: “Before toilet paper.”

Colin and Ryan’s ‘kiss and tell’ is a clever one; they kiss, then Ryan puts an apple on Colin’s head, and fires an arrow. Wrong Tell.

I love the ‘librarian jokes’ bit, because there’s a genuine Greg Proops laugh that he himself has to shush.

Clive, hesitantly: “…yyyes, two hairs left on Clive Anderson’s head.”
Ryan and Greg come onstage, bouncing.
Greg, giving the obvious joke: “Sure is lonely up here…”

Clive: “Your worst nightmare.”
Greg: “Hi, I’m Clive Anderson, I’M IN YOUR DREAMS!”
Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.18.00 PM.png

Better round than the last few we saw in the US.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Greg (passenger and stewardess)

Clive, responding to suggestions: “LOVE BOAT!!?!?!? Oh, is that just your nickname for me?….I’m more tugboat actually- NO, NO…”

Someone in the audience shouts out ‘DAVID MILLER’
Tony gives a quick look of ‘…REALLY now…”
Clive: “Yes, well we already have pantomime…”

Very quick, but I’d like to note that someone in the UK audience is wearing a Philadelphia Eagles football cap. At press time, the Eagles are set to play in this year’s Super Bowl, and this particular American supplier of british panel show nonsense is a fan of theirs. Let’s just assume, if you’re reading this years later, that they did well and didn’t lose to the Patriots.

Greg: “Duty free, duty free, overpriced stuff you don’t need…”
Tony: “I’ll have a couple of useless things, I’ll take the teddy bear for 92 pounds…”

The horror style ends with Greg spitting soup onto Tony, with Tony being caught a bit off guard as Clive buzzes in.
Clive: “…let’s do a pantomime…”

Tony uses the, I believe, Paul Merton technique of introducing the idea of a song…then throwing it to the other participant. Also, Richard Vranch comes in with backing for Greg’s panto song, which is rare for a non-singing game.

Greg instructs part of the audience to go, as a backing vocal, ‘spit spit spit spit’, and after a few beats of this, he turns back to them and goes ‘SING DAMMIT!”

By the time the entire audience is involved, and Tony’s half seems to be winning, Tony cracks up right as Clive buzzes in. He didn’t think they’d get that far.

Tony, Shakespeare style: ‘WAIT…You cannot do this at your leisure, please show me the safety procedure.”

A pretty fantastic game through-and-through, with both participants having a ton to do, and the scene being loose enough yet still followed.

Questions Only: Colin confronts Ryan about a girlfriend

This game is still a two-person venture, which puzzles me, as they hate this version of it.

Unlike the last one, this actually has more of a dramatic edge, and the scene description makes it simpler to actually carry out a scene.

Ryan: “Can you satisfy her as I can?”
Colin, unzipping his trousers: “DOES THIS ANSWER YOUR QUESTION??”
Ryan, after the applause has died down: “…where did you buy that?”

Plus, the scene escalates to the point where the conflict is Colin took of Ryan’s penis in a car accident and now has it somewhere. They’re both so willingly on board with it, too.

Then, the game culminates in Ryan grabbing the missing appendage from Colin’s pocket and twisting it back on. Of course it has to end then, they can’t go any further.

Very funny game, funnier than the last one, but I still prefer this as a quick-fire round.

Superheroes: Global Warming
Greg: Undercover Elephant Man
Ryan: Man Who Talks Really Really Slow.
Tony: Flatulence Boy
Colin: Captain Ballerina

On Clive’s suggestion for a World Crisis, there’s a loud voice in the back, with either a Scottish or North Country accent, yelling ‘…FLOOD!’
The sole cry does crack up most of the audience.

Clive mentions the real style, Global Warming, and attempts to explain it to Greg.
Greg: “Yes, and it leads to FLOOOOODS!”

Greg: “I better turn on the universal bummer viewer monitor- I sense something’s happening….AND I NEVER FORGET!”

I adore the visual of Ryan, true to his identity, saying ‘OOOOOOHHHHHHH SHIIIIIIIIIITTTTT” really slowly once he realizes the world crisis.

Tony, starting a trend: “I’m sorry I’ve been so long, I was having my bikini line waxed!”

Colin, as Captain Ballerina, nearly falls over demonstrating his new prowess, but Greg keeps him from falling over.
Colin, realizing the plot hole: “…….OH! I’M NO HELP AT ALL!”

Ryan, as he’s about to leave: “…WEEELCOME BALLET BOY!”

One of the funnier all-around Superheroes rounds we’ve had so far. Even Clive agrees.

World’s Worst: Person to take confession

Colin: “…done it…”
Tony: “Carry on” “MAAAHHH” “Shh…”
Ryan, with the best one: ‘Everything’s always YOU YOU YOU. WHAT ABOUT ME!?!?”

Some pretty basic ones, but still a nice round.

Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and Tony

Giant chili peppers vs. misshapen wads of paper. Not at ‘wacky foam stuff’ yet, but getting close.

Greg, with the pepper on his nose: “I’m Pinocchio, who are you?”
Tony, out of ideas: “….Pinocchio’s friend!”

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.45.15 PM.pngColin: “We should never have let the poodles play on the road…”

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.45.56 PM.pngTony: “Ladies and gentlemen, my first guest….Brigitte Nielsen!”

Funny round, with more bizarre ideas showing up as it went along.

Scene to Music: Ryan has come to fix Tony’s fridge

Ah yes, a game that would have many a many fun moment in the next few series.

Ryan starts the scene by lifting something up.
Tony, realizing what hasn’t been established: “…yes, come in through the window…”

The music in question is a very 1940’s-love-story-esque track, which causes Tony to spin around in admiration.

This ends up being a very broad scene, with Tony and Ryan using as many opportunities as possible to try and make the other one aroused. It does, however, lead to this visual:
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 12.54.17 PM.png

Ryan: “OH…I’ve spilled the oil…”

Very simple scene, but still pretty funny. Also, we don’t get to see the Tony-Ryan combo often, and this was a great use of it.

Stand Sit Lean: Ryan, Colin and Tony are in a chip shop

Another improv standard.

This game works really well with Tony and Ryan, who both have the idea of changing positions in order to screw everyone else up.

It gets tricky, but funny-tricky, after a bit. There’s a moment where both Tony and Colin stand up, but they both have to lean, and then change from that. It’s amusing as all hell, and there’s definitely more humor in the changing physicality than in the scene proper.

Incredibly funny game, just made sillier as it went along.

Helping Hands: Tony has gone to find out about pet care from Ryan (ft. Greg’s hands)

….if this is the one I’m thinking it is…poor Ryan…

Ryan starts the scene by chucking the stuffed cat across the stage. Taste is already at a low.

Ryan is about to put some of the canned cat food in the can…but then says he wants to have a bit himself, and Greg…feeds Ryan some of the cat food. You can trace every subsequent Helping Hands where Ryan has to eat something disgusting right back to this moment.

Then, even better, he asks Tony ‘CARE FOR SOME’, and eventually Tony, after being egged on by the audience, and Clive, takes a spoonful.

Ryan takes some of the powder…and snorts it. And then, drunkenly goes “WHERE’S FLUFFY…WHAT IS FLUFFY? IS IT A CAT OR A DOG?”

Tony, grabbing a carton of water: “I bet you’re thirsty, aren’t you.”
Ryan, with traces of cat food still in his mouth: “YOOOOOU BET I AM!”

The scene ends right as Ryan starts licking milk from a bowl, probably as Clive has seen enough.

Hoedown: Exams

Clive comments that this game is always popular with the contestants. Ryan, after hearing that, sarcastically taps his fingers and leaps to the step.

Note that the Hoedown, for the first time, is at its more familiar key, the one it’d be in for the rest of the run, as well as the US run.

Greg gets his off to a nice start, ending with a solid Dan Quayle slam that…may have been slightly belated.

Colin’s is a great one- he talks of studying very hard, only to find out ‘it was a urine test’. Glad to see people are finally getting the hang of what to do in these Hoedown verses.

Tony begins his eventual habit of giggling to himself directly before he has to begin a Hoedown verse. He does end it well, though, saying people should ‘get through exams by doing lots of cocaine’.

A pretty nice Hoedown, cast disdain aside.

Overall: Nice way to start the series. Tons of great performances here, with Tony working really well with everybody, especially Ryan, and Greg stepping up in a way he hadn’t in a few series. I’d say that Colin was the quieter of the four, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was bad, just the least heralded. Ryan is still leading the charge, here, and that’s not a bad thing- he far exceeds Mike McShane’s and John Sessions’ ability to carry an entire panel through a show. Some nice game additions, and some funny moments all around.

Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Ryan, for continuing his fantastic material into Series 5
Worst Performer: Colin, for staying a bit to the background this show
Best Game: Superheroes. Not even a FLOOOOAD could stop this one, with all four doing really funny stuff.
Worst Game: World’s Worst, just by default.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E13, or I Just Lost All My Points

It’s been a fun series, but it’s time to wrap it up on a bow and move back to the UK.

This compilation is the best of the US tapings, and judging by the quality of several episodes that included 2 or 3 great improvisers and 1 or 2 bad ones, hopefully this compilation will be strong as hell.

It’s interesting to note that there are no games featuring Jim Meskimen, Chris Smith or Archie Hahn in tonight’s show. Glad the producers got the hint.

Film and Theatre Styles: Greg and Colin (veteran cop and rookie cop)
From: E7

Almost immediately, someone from the back of the audience who sounds vaguely like a certain Charles M. Esten, shouts out ‘DUBBED SWEDISH PORNO MOVIE’.
Clive: “That’s…premature suggestion there, but…”

Colin: “…you should probably buckle your seatbelts.”
Greg: “Come on, I’ve gotta leave room for donuts.”
Clive: “Soviet propaganda.”

Clive: “Swedish porno movie…dumb, or dubbed.”
Greg: “…pull over.”
Colin: “…pull what?”
and then, after 10 seconds of applause for this:
Greg: “Is that your nightstick, or are you just excited to be on patrol?”
Colin: [says something in Swedish…then translates it as exactly what he just said in Swedish]
Clive: “Oh dear…that was subtitled and not dubbed, but nevermind…”
Greg: [mugs at him from his stance onstage]

Army Recruiting Film:
Greg: “Well, you never know what could happen if you meet a woman of ill repute. Your thing could swell up like a Macy’s day balloon.”

Clive: “Let’s end on a Thriller.”
Greg, realizing the one thing he forgot to keep doing in the scene: “….no one’s driving…”
Colin: “Where’d the steering wheel go?”
Greg: “Why is my seat facing [toward Colin]?”

Fantastic scene. It’s sad you don’t really get to see the Greg-Colin dynamic too often, but here they were great together, both giving very funny stuff.

Letter Change: Chip and Ryan (waiter and customer)- T becomes Z
From: E10

Ryan, coming from the seats, already looks like he hates this game.

Ryan had the ‘nice zizs’ joke cued up to go, even before Clive came in with the scene. He also seemed to forget that LOTS OF WORDS END WITH T.

A very quick scene, with no substance, because you could tell neither participant liked the game, nor were they any good at it.

World’s Worst: Person to visit you in the hospital (Greg, Ryan, Colin and Brad)
From: E7

Colin: “…so your wife’s home all alone?”
Brad: “I’ve put a lovely lace doily on your bedpan.”
Ryan: “Uhh…Phil…what are you gonna be doing with your stereo?”
Brad: “My dad died of the same thing…”
Colin: “…about that 10 bucks you owe me…”
Greg, in a deep voice: “TIME FOR YOUR SPONGE BATH!!!”

Clive: “Okay, anymore of those?”
Ryan, quickly: “NO!”

Great game. There was a point where it was just back to back great ones, which doesn’t happen often with this game.

Expert: Greg interviews Ryan, an expert on the afterlife
From: E12

Ryan: “Regis Dumbly….well, that’s my name NOW…”

Greg: “Say you were to perish, what happens on the other side?”
Ryan: “VERY CHEAP CROISSANTS! They knock the price in half!”

Ryan: “Yes, well, when you get to the afterlife, you’ll learn that there are much more than two Landers sisters…IF THAT ISN’T NIRVANA, I don’t know what is, my friend…”

Greg: “Now, a lot of times when people talk about the afterlife, they say that a relative is waiting there, at the end of a lighted tunnel, kind of beckoning you there. Is that how it happens?”
Ryan: “Well, on the occasion when relatives are old money, yes.”

Greg: “Is there any preparation someone can make before they get to the afterlife? Something we can do now?”
Ryan: “…pack an iron.”

A lower-tier Expert, but still very funny, because…I mean, how can Ryan playing this game NOT be funny?

Bartender: Chip
Sam: trying to forget his bedwetting
Jane: Clive has left her
From: E10

Chip, top of Sam’s scene: “How ’bout a big drink- Oh, uh…”

Chip’s word choice, again, thrives over these games, as he’s able to throw the word ‘anoretic’ in there for a rhyme.

This marks the first time that Clive himself is a plot-point in a game, other than an offhanded mention by someone. Not the last time Clive would work his way into a game of Bartender, too.

Jane’s verse is pretty clever, with the line ‘do you know what I have to do…just to GET A POINT!’ It’s satirical, it’s a good point about how women who weren’t Josie Lawrence were treated in that era of the show, and it’s also funny in the context of the game.

Chip: “I know it’s sad…when you can’t date…a sexy moderator…with a shiny pate.”
Clive gets a kick out of that one.

And Chip ends on “yeah, you may have lost him, but I just lost all my points”, probably knowing how well the bald joke will stack up.

Good enough round, though Sam’s verse weighed it down a bit.

Props: Ryan and Brad vs. Ron and Greg
From: E12

They had backup props? Okay then.

Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 11.23.45 AM.pngRyan: “…and THAT, my friend, is your baby!”
Greg takes a moment to recover from that one

Alphabet: Greg and Ryan (customer and tattoo artist)- starting with Q
From E7

Note that the majority of this comp’s material come from Brad Sherwood episodes.

Greg: “Tattoo me.”
Ryan: “Usually I don’t do work for people who don’t pay, and you haven’t put any money in the pot yet.”
Greg: “Visa?”

This scene gets very, very silly when Ryan and Greg’s characters remember their old zoo traditions. It’s still funny, but the sillier, American brand of humor.

Film Dub: Jane, Ryan and Sam are on a highway
From: E10

As expected from these two, a very haphazard round of Film Dub.

Ryan, as a cop comforting the crash victims: “Say, folks, there’s been an accident around here, you folks seen it?”

Ryan is legitimately the only funny part of the scene. Jane’s character gives Ryan’s a large suitcase, and he puts it on his lap, only for Ryan to say ‘HEY, THIS FEELS GOOD!’

Superheroes: Earthquakes
Greg: Proctologist Man
Ryan: Touchy Feely Man
Ron: Obscure Reference Man
Colin: Lunchbox Boy
From: E9

I love Greg’s semi-impressed reaction once his name suggestion is called.
Clive: “It just came to you looking at Greg, didn’t it?”

Ryan, immediately hitting it out of the park: “PROCTOLOGIST MAN, I understand you’re looking up a few old friends!”

It’s incredibly amusing seeing Greg trying to explain the problem while Ryan keeps stroking him. It’s reminiscent of a US playing from Season 2.

Ron, surprisingly coming up with a good joke: “I’d rather have Touchy-Feely Man touching me than Proctologist Man.”

It’s fantastic- Greg and Ron are trying to solve the problem, and Ryan keeps dipping his finger into Lunchbox Boy casually, therefore getting all the laughs.

Very, very funny Superheroes scene, made even funnier by the fact that everyone was able to bounce off of each other while the scene was progressing.

Hoedown: Making Cheese (Greg, Colin, Brad and Ryan)
From E7

Once Clive announces the game, all four joyously sprint to the step, with emphasis on Brad and Colin. Already, all four of them absolutely loathe this game.

Someone in the audience, ever the smartass, yells out ‘MASTURBATION!’
Clive: “There was a cry of masturbation…but, uh…I think you’re on your own on that one.”

Clive: “It’s the Making Cheese Hoedown, starting with you Greg…”
Greg, still not loving this game: “You’ve GOT IT, CLIVE!”
Clive: “…you sing it, Greg.”
Greg: “Stand by, fresh funkmeister…”
Clive: “Get on with it, before my funk gets stale…”

Greg, immediately, knows exactly what he must do:
“I used to masturbate a lot, I stopped it if you please
I found another hobby, I call it making cheese.”

Colin ends up doing one of his usual Hoedown stallings (‘here and there and there and here’). When he has absolutely no idea what to do for the last line, he just goes “…I USED TO MASTURBATE!”

Ryan has a bad cheese pun, and Brad ends with a typical-for-Brad line about making love with a brownfield mouse. A solid hoedown all around, and it’s not everyday where I can say that.

Best Performer: Ryan, as per usual this season
Worst Performer: Sam Johnson.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles. It just really fit, and would have been great in the episode.
Worst Game: Letter Change. Not a ton going on there.


Best Episode: Episode 2, featuring the Old Guard (Josie and Paul) vs. the New Guard (Ryan and Greg), a fantastic playing of Video Player, Paul’s Josie slams, and some fantastic moments all around.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 7, the catalyst for the forthcoming US influence taking over the show, with Greg, Ryan, Colin and Brad all in top form, fantastic games all night, and Colin and Ryan’s first classic Whose Line round.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 1, one of the last spurts of greatness from an all-UK cast, with Sweeney and Steen working off of each other, Steve Frost making a fine debut, and Tony making dirty jokes all night.
Worst Episode: Episode 8. You can tell the producers didn’t even like this one, as they distanced themselves from it by not including it in the comp, but..Archie Hahn ruined the dynamic between Chip, Greg and Ryan, by being a brick in every game he was in. It’s one of the rare occasions where a bad improviser brings down the entire bunch.
Best Recurring Performer: Ryan Stiles. This was his series, like it or not, and he owned every single game. If he’d made the trek out to America, Tony Slattery would be in consideration for this.
Worst Recurring Performer: Ron West. Two unfunny turns meant no invite back.
Most Improved: Colin Mochrie. Once nervous and quiet, Colin had some star turns this series, not only working with Ryan, but working with the entire unit. The producers would call on him much more in the future because of his work this series.
Best Newcomer: Steve Frost. I nearly gave this to Brad Sherwood, but Steve came in and it felt like he’d been doing this for years. He had a manic energy about him, one that complimented people like Jim Sweeney and Tony Slattery perfectly. And thankfully the producers would rely on HIM more in the next few series, even pitting him up against the Americans several times.
Person We’re Sad We Have To Wait a While to See Again: Brad Sherwood. I am gonna miss him.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E12, or As I Recall, I didn’t write that ticket..

The last ever episode to be shot in New York, and the last non-compilation episode of the strong-starting but weak-ending Series 4, tonight’s show is essentially a ‘what have we learned’ wrap-up of the series. Greg Proops and Ryan Stiles are here, as usual, but so is Brad Sherwood, who had a nice enough first showing but wouldn’t appear again on Whose Line until Series 9, five years after this one, meaning that the producers liked him, but not enough to get him on a plane to London until 1997. And Ron West is also here, in his final appearance, after a disastrous showing in Episode 9.

Emotion Option: Brad and Ryan (on a production line)

The quick patter is nearly right off the bat, as during the ‘paranoia’ style, Brad and Ryan’s dialogue are nearly overlapping, and their humor definitely benefits each other.

Clive: “nostalgia”
Ryan: “…’member what you just said?”

Even the little things work. In the moment where Nostalgia becomes Angst, Brad’s expression goes from wistful to antsy, and he builds this little cringe which operates the rest of his movements.

Then, in the ecstasy style, Ryan and Brad start doing their production sound effects, but in the most horny way possible. When you can make sound effects have emotions, then you know you’re good at something.

Ryan: “OH! I’m caught!”
Ryan slides over to Brad seamlessly. It was a little like the spaghetti ending of the Old Job New Job from earlier this series, but it was still a funny ending to a really well-improvised scene.

Film and Theatre Styles: Greg and Ron (kidnapper and negotiating policeman)

Ron: “Look, let me through the door. It’s ridiculous talking through this microphone. I’m close to you.”
Greg: “I can see you, cause the door has an enormous window in it! Think how stupid I feel!”

Ron’s physicality in the Burlesque style is a ton like how he did Slapstick with Paul Merton, though sadly without the instantly-appearing folding chair this time.

Clive: Soviet realism
Greg: “I am never giving up my hostage, until all of the people in my country can have Reeboks of their own.”

The scene was going pretty well until Japanese Horror, when Ron just stops and goes ‘CUT TO SHOT OF GREG IN GODZILLA’S HANDS’, and sort of doctors the scene himself. Also, like usual, not a ton of emphasis on character and a lot of emphasis on ‘play’.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Strange good-luck charms.”
Ryan: “Hey, I see you’ve got a Rabbi’s foot!”

Clive: “sports that will never make the Olympics.”
Ryan: [catches it in his mouth]

Again, I feel like the rounds of this game got weaker as the series went on, but good for some easy laughs.

Whose Line: Ryan is stopped by officer Brad

Brad: “Hey, buddy. Didn’t you see that sign back there. It said ‘always keep a jellyfish in your handbag.'”
And we’re off to a rousing start.

Brad: “May I see your handbag please?”
Ryan, rolling up the window: “I’m sorry?”
Brad smirks at that one. Adv- Ryan.

Ryan: “My friend, I have a jellyfish right here.”
Brad: “…yes, but it’s not in your handbag!”
Ryan: “DAMMIT!”
Adv.- Brad

Ryan: “Before I left the house, my wife yelled at me….[struggles to open line]…SHE YELLED AT MEEEE…’Send for the King and a plate of spaghetti!’….she’s been pregnant for 9 months, and she’s going out of her mind…”

Brad: “You know, last time I saw a guy like you, he tried to get out of it by saying…[breaks]…’Grab me big boy and kiss me like there’s no tomorrow!'”
Brad at least handles this one a bit better than Sam handled the ‘will you marry me’ line.
Brad, after the audience dies down: “…as I recall, I didn’t write that ticket…”

Ryan, instead of putting a bow on the kissing subplot, reads his last line, saying the motto of the Young Drivers of America is ‘.MY GOD, WE’RE CAUGHT IN QUICKSAND’.
Ryan: “….a lot of the members were pregnant at the time…”

World’s Worst: Person to pick up as a hitchhiker

Greg: “Oh, don’t pull over yet, I know MORE showtunes!”
Brad: “Do I smell like gravel to you?”
Ryan: “No, I’m just trying to find that all Bee-Gees channel.”
Brad, with the callback joke: “This is a rough stretch of highway, so I brought a jellyfish in my handbag…”

Props: Ryan and Brad vs. Greg and Ron

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 4.11.13 PM.pngRyan: “I don’t think it’s right to forge Gulliver’s checks…”

Also, this is the first of many ‘Blistex delivery for Mr. Jagger’ jokes.

Brad, holding the prop to his nose: “….alright, I was lying for god’s sakes…”

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 4.13.41 PM.pngRyan: “Your elephant’s got a temperature of 104…”

Great round, especially on Brad and Ryan’s end.

Helping Hands: Brad learns how to decorate cakes from Ryan (ft. Greg’s hands)

The first bit of the scene is hysterical because Greg can’t fit the hat or apron onto Ryan, so Ryan just decides to throw them both away.

Brad, as Ryan tries dumping chocolate icing onto the cake: “Why don’t you use the spatula, it’ll be a lot easier-”
Ryan, pointing a knife at Brad: “WHOOOO is the cook here…”

And, of course, Greg ends up spurting reddi-whip into Ryan’s mouth, though thankfully Loyd Grossman was not on hand.

This is a very funny scene, because there ends up being whipped cream all over Ryan and Brad by the end of the scene. Greg, after they finish, asks Ryan, calmly ‘did I get any on you?”

Superheroes: Airplane is going down
Greg: Soap Man
Ryan: Tight Underwear Man
Ron: Ripped Off in the Divorce Settlement Man
Brad: Overreaction Man

Ryan, immediately nailing his physicality: “The cabs just wouldn’t stop for me, I don’t know why!”

This is a pretty quick game, as there’s not a ton of attention to the plot, but it’s still pretty damn funny. Though it does go into some obscure territory when they just start talking about Airport 75.

A bit too light for me, but still not exactly bad.

Old Job New Job: Greg is a dentist working on Brad. Ryan, a former car mechanic, comes in to help.

Ryan goes with the obvious joke- he comes in, Greg tells him the diagnosis, and Ryan goes “mind if I have a look?” Then Ryan scoots underneath Brad’s stool to look from underneath. Just a good joke. It’s even better when Brad confusedly looks over at Greg.

Greg: “Ryan, how’s it look?”
Ryan: “Well, he’s got a huge cavity under here.”

Greg: “I think you might see it a little better from up here-”

Ryan, getting up from underneath: “That’s all it was, ya had a loose nut!”

Absolutely hysterical, even if the jokes were pretty simple.

Hoedown: Motorcycling 

Clive says that a hoedown’s a ‘very popular musical style over here, except for with…these four, oddly enough’.

Fairly inoffensive hoedown, without any standout verses, but, again, not what you’d call bad either.

Overall: A step up from the last few, succeeding in delivering several really funny games, as well as not allowing a bad improviser that much time for showcase. The show thrived on the Ryan-Brad games, as both performers were up to the challenge, and both were really funny tonight. Greg, as usual this series, wasn’t up to par with the front of the pack, though he had nice moments here and there. Ron, again, didn’t have a great go at it, but he was better here than he was in E9. Better show, and a solid way to leave the NY tapings.

Show Winners: Ryan and Greg
Best Performer: Ryan, for again proving why he was such a fixture during this stetch
Worst Performer: Ron. Not really his show, to be honest.
Best Game: Whose Line, narrowly edging out Old Job New Job on account of having a few funnier lines all-around.
Worst Game: Superheroes. A lot of emptiness for such a usually-packed game.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E11 or …And we’re back to you and the wife

The US run has been lined with unsuccessful guest bits by people the producers were absent-mindedly trying to push. We’ve had bad runs from Archie Hahn, Sam Johnson and Jane Brucker, and a less-than-positive run from Ron West.

Tonight, the duo of Chip Esten and Ryan Stiles are thrown back into the field to face off against the duo Patterson and co were pushing LAST US run…Jim Meskimen and Chris Smith, in their last appearance on the show (so you can guess how well this one went)

Clive’s opening remark, introducing the show as ‘the show that does for comedy what Warren Beatty does for chastity’ gets a nice response from the audience, even if he mispronounces his name.

Film and Theatre Styles- Ryan and Chip (in a pet shop)

[Who the hell would know that in America? Besides some audience plant]

Clive announces the scene (“you’re going to Chip’s pet shop”), and both Ryan and Chip make fun of how he pronounces that one.
Clive: “Or Pet’s Chip Shop, if you’re from England.”

Ryan: “I’m interested in a big birdseed ball thing.”
Chip: “Aren’t we all?”

For the Moliere style, Chip just repeats what he just said in a thick, over-the-top French accent. I think that just about nails that one.

After Ryan and Chip just switch back to english
Clive: “Well there you are, Moliere’s famous rhyming couplets…as rendered so accurately…”

They win it back during the 50s B-Movie style, Ryan prancing around campily towards both sides of the screen, trying some sort of West Side Story thing I think.

Ryan: “You’re from the wrong side of the track, and I’m from on top of the building! YOU’RE FROM SPAGHETTI AND I’M FROM *MEAT!* DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND WE’RE BOTH TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS?”

In Laurel and Hardy style, Ryan goes into a perfect wimpy Laurel voice. Chip attempts to get him to stop crying by poking him in the eye…which is so effective that he actually sticks a finger into Ryan’s eye-socket, drawing him back.
Chip realizes what he’s done, tries to stay together, and, realizing he’s done a three stooges move instead of a Laurel and Hardy move, goes “WRONG SHOW…”

Clive: “Let’s go for some science fiction.”
Ryan: “Give it to me now! I will cover it with seed!”

Old Job New Job: Chris and Jim are nuclear scientists- Ryan comes in, but he used to be a pro-baseball player

For suggestions of Ryan’s job, somebody in the audience shouts out ‘MTA!’. I can’t imagine this going on BBC or whatever, and anybody in the UK getting that. That is a specific reference to the New York subway system that I get as a New Yorker, but probably went right over Clive’s head.

Jim cracks up as he’s justifying the scene (two guys putting radioactivity into smoke alarms), and covers by saying ‘I’m just laughing at that thing you told me earlier…’

For the first bit, Ryan is doing umpire stuff, but I think he’s gotten the point once he grabs crotch while Jim’s trying to explain something.

And then, as Ryan compliments Jim and Chris, he gives them both butt-slaps. I’ll say that it’s really nice seeing Jim as the straight man for once.

For once, there’s an ending that’s constructed by the straight men. Chris, realizing he should play by Ryan’s lingo, says he needs to pick up some containment stuff ‘in left field’, prompting Ryan to be in base-stealing position. Then, Jim and Chris get him in a rundown between bases, throwing radioactive material between each other, to prompt Ryan to go ‘OH, YOU BASTARDS!’ I never expected a natural ending would ever form in a game of this.

Nice enough game. Even as he heads back, Ryan realizes he was doing an umpire instead of a player for a while.

Props: Ryan and Chris vs. Jim and Chip

There’s some intrigue and applause in this NY audience, because Ryan and Chris’ prop looks like a bong. Very highbrow stuff here.

I’ll say that the Chip-Jim combo is a bit more compatible than Ryan and Chris, as they can very quickly get ideas across, and they kind of have the same humor. Ryan sort of has to be the dominant performer here, as when Chris is left to his own devices he lets loose a 1940s slur.

It’s an alright game, but it’s curtailed when Ryan, without any ideas, repeats his Bingo prop idea again.

Bartender: Chip
Chris: angry about his divorce
Jim: trying to forget the stock market
Ryan: is impotent

Chris’ verse is unspectacular, but Chip’s comeback:
“I think you could be rich
if you just ditch the bitch
And get yourself some alimony”
Really nice.

Clive, dodging a suggestion for what Jim’s trying to forget: “Baldness is disallowed, for a reason…a reason that may be quite obvious…”

Damn, Jim’s singing technique in this game is different, fitting into the verses with excess and still pulling it off vocally. It’s a tad showoffish, but it really works.

Chip even throws in the callback line of “I thought you’d be upset because you’re going bald…”

The Chip-Jim one is great because Jim even backs up Chip, and makes it a pretty nice overall musical moment.

Clive: “You were doing so well, Chip…til you threw it all away with that unkind remark. We stick together, us baldies…”

Ryan, almost immediately: “Why aren’t there any women in this bar?”

Richard comes in with this upbeat, march-time type song, which cracks up Ryan, and he eventually just starts bopping along with it. It’s actually a really nicely done backing song.

The Ryan-Chip number is also really nice, with some pretty smooth boner puns from both sides, and the strength of the backing track.

Expert: Chip interviews Ryan, an expert on algae farming

Ryan, introducing himself: “John…Pukalakalay…don’t bother, it’s Canadian…”

Ryan, indirectly screwing with the guy who made the suggestion: “Well, it’s very difficult, algae farming, as algae floats on water, and farming involves soil.”

Chip: “I understand you’ve lost 10 or 12 tractors-”
Ryan: “Yes I have! Good tractors!”

Chip tells Ryan he’d like to see some of the slides he’d brought, so Ryan plugs in his microscope and starts cueing them up, only to realize Chip meant the other kind.

Ryan, explaining a slide: “This is me trying to run across water. It was a brief second, and then I was back underwater with the tractor again…”

Ryan, stopping Chip from flipping slides: “Oh-oh, that’s the wife and I…”

Ryan’s rationalization, which this game thrives upon, involves saying that he planted fish underneath the soil so the algae could grow on top, and then putting his hands up and going ‘DON’T ASK ME HOW!’

Chip: “…and we’re back to you and the wife.”
Ryan: “As you can see, I’ve laid the algae out on the wife here. Makes her nice and slippery and supple.”
Chip, ending the game on an incredible pun: “I guess you’re a real fun guy.”

Characters: In a laundromat, with Captain Kirk (Jim) and Mr. Spock (Chris)

This is an unrelated anecdote, after 5 years of impressionist Jay Pharoah being on Saturday Night Live, his sketches became less involved with setups, and more just ‘let’s just have Jay do impressions for 3 minutes’. And that’s what we’ve gotten to with Jim and Chris. Just two impressions and a location. Alrighty then.

Clive asks for a place for them to meet. Some smartass in the audience shouts out ‘IN BED!’

This game works because of Jim’s excellent Shatner impression, which the audience recognizes as such almost immediately.

Chris tries using his tricorder, which leads to some weird popping sound effects.
Jim, smirking: “Sounds like you’ve still got gnats in there, Spock…”

This does have a very nice payoff: they find the sock, and Jim explains “This is the thing that is HOLDING everybody in a STATE of PERPETUAL WARRR…”
Chris: “…I was wrong, captain- this is the sock-”
Jim, throwing the other one away: ‘OF COURE…THIS is the thing that’s HOLDING EVERYBODY in a STATE OF PERPETUAL WAR…”
Chris, holding up something else: “Um-”
Jim: “Don’t tell me.”

Surprisingly funny, even if it was a very simple impression showcase. Again, as ineffective as these guys were, they could still be funny when they were given opportunities. They just didn’t ace them all.

Party Quirks: Chris hosts
Chip: a prisoner on a chain gang
Jim: boxing trainer ringside
Ryan: rodeo rider

Ryan, upon reading his quirk, nods accordingly, holding a chuckle.

Chris works at this game, but his very relaxed delivery does detract from it, as he does take a very passive approach with working with each participant.

Jim does crack me up doing what is essentially an impression of Burgess Meredith from Rocky, just keeping this craggy sort of character, and yelling at Chris when he goes to let in Ryan, “when ya open the doorbell, LEAD WITH YOUR LEFT!”

Ryan, from the moment he enters, is just this ball of incredible, hilarious physicality, rambling around the room on this bronco. Chris does get it in about 10 seconds, but the visual of Ryan doing that, Jim shouting at him, and Chris looking helpless and trying not to crack up is a truly great one.

Pretty nice game, but it’s a short one, and I don’t really like Chris’ demeanor and passive stance on the whole thing.

Helping Hands: Chris is at a casino gambling with Ryan (ft. Jim’s hands)

Jim struggles to get the visor onto Ryan’s head for a few seconds, before getting it on crooked, so he looks like Geordi from Star Trek.

Chris, again, is taking a very passive approach to the game, so Ryan’s exuberance has to carry this one completely.

Chris, actually having a nice improv move: “Actually, in that case, I won!”

Ryan: “Pick any card, I won’t look….ACTUALLY…to prove I won’t look…LET ME PUT THAT VISOR BACK DOWN OVER MY EYES AGAIN!”

Very nice game, lifted solely by Ryan, which you could also say for this whole show.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Naming a baby.”
Chris, grabbing Ryan: “…well, he LOOKS like a Clive.”
Clive, ever the cheeky one: “yes, well, there’s a reason for that.”

Clive: “A Jimmy Stewart convention”
Chip, Chris, Ryan and Jim, all simultaneously” “WA-WA-UH-WA-WA-WA-WA-”
I will never not laugh at that.

A convention of cheese makers
Jim and Chris keep going for a bit without a joke. Ryan enters finally, thinking of the punchline.
Ryan: “WA-WA-WA-WA…Oh, I’m at the wrong convention, I’m sorry…”

Clive: “Two men comparing each other at the urinal- OH, PLEASE…”
Ryan, to Chip: “Hey, not bad-”
Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 12.27.58 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-20 at 12.28.08 PM.png

And that’s an outstanding visual to end the show on.

Overall: Like E10, another odd case. There weren’t any truly bad games, but you could see the dissonance between Meskimen & Smith and Ryan and Chip’s more WL friendly improv ideology. Again, while Meskimen and Smith were very funny, with an emphasis on Jim tonight, their brand of humor didn’t really fit the show, as much as Patterson wanted them to. Meanwhile, for the second show in a row, Ryan carried the entire show on his back, appearing in all but one game, and having some truly terrific moments. This isn’t to discredit Chip, who had a much better episode than E10, and had some great moments in Bartender and F&TS. It was just an uneven and lopsided show, despite being really funny in parts.

Show Winner: Jim
Best Performer: Ryan, for continuing to cement his status as the face of the series.
Worst Performer: Chris Smith, for not taking any risks or being active in anything.
Best Game: Again, I go with Expert, not out of habit, but because it was truly funny again tonight, with Ryan’s dynamic with Chip augmenting it a bit. F&TS and Old Job New Job were considered.
Worst Game: Props. Not a lot to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E10, or Whose Suggestion Was This Anyway?

This is the first of two episodes of Ryan Stiles and Chip Esten on very, very strange tides. For the next two episodes, there will be no Greg Proops or Colin Mochrie. Tonight, we’ve picked out two people who’d never done whose line before…and would never do Whose Line again, from America. Jane Brucker was in Dirty Dancing, and did improv comedy in New York, as well as Sam Johnson…who no one online seems to have heard of. Good signs.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Things you must not do near electricity”
Ryan, making a fssssshhhh noise: “…just watering the sockets…”

Clive: “Arriving at the wrong place”
Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 11.42.47 AM.png
Simple, yet effective

Clive: “The last woman on earth”
Sam and Chip: “I GOT ‘ER!”

Another really light round of these.

Film and Theatre Styles: Ryan hijacks Sam’s plane

(I’d like to point out that there’s a voice from the audience that sounds quite like Greg Proops that yells out ‘BURLESQUE’ when Clive asks for styles. Maybe he spent his off day in style?)

Clive, after overwhelming response: “SILENT FILM? Yeah, let’s try the audience on that one…”

Ryan, holding Sam up: “I’m taking this plane….to Fresno.”
I laughed hard at that.

Silent Movie style shows exactly how different the two dynamics are- Sam just mouths out words passionately, while Ryan plays the piano jittery-like….like a SILENT MOVIE, SAM. NOT ONE WITH THE VOLUME TURNED OFF.

Thankfully they do get some physical motion when Sam grabs the steering wheel from Ryan, and Ryan gets his gun back.

The Muppets

The Bruce Lee style is great, because I love Ryan’s expression when he’s getting hit in the face by Sam.

Spaghetti Western
Ryan: “…I’m flying this plane…to Fresno- AAAA-AAAAHHHHHH-AAHHHHH….”
Sam: “Stop! Your background music is too strong for me!”

There’s an edit before Clive buzzes out, and you can tell Ryan is just about ready for the game to end. As he walks back to the seats, he goes to Sam ‘THERE’S THAT ENDING WE WERE LOOKING FOR!’

Pretty fun game, keeping the plot for most of the scene, though Ryan did make the better improv decisions.

Expert: Jane interviews Ryan, an expert on moldy bread

You can tell that this point that the show was structured around Ryan Stiles, and really nobody else. Chip barely factors into the first bit of the show, and Ryan’s been in every game,…and now we’re doing expert.

There are some rational suggestions in ‘ice cream’ and ‘nuclear fission’, but Clive goes for ‘moldy bread’ behind him. His ‘getting answers from British Telecom’ days may have started before S06E04.

Jane: “…I’m Jane Wonder, and welcome to Whose Suggestion was that Anyway?”

Jane throws herself for a loop in assigning Ryan a name, but goes for one anyway: “Welcome…Dr….Yeast.”:
Ryan, without missing a beat: “Thank you, I will rise to the occasion.”

Ryan: “As a matter of fact, we have a joke in the business: what’s the difference between moldy bread and Portland, Oregon?”
Jane, whose character is done with this shit already: “…very funny indeed.”
Ryan has to rebound and give the punchline: “It’s actually…moldy bread has more culture…”
The audience groans at this one.

Ryan, getting all the audience suggestions in one: “Yes, we’ve found that when moldy bread is mixed with ice cream, it causes a nuclear fission.”

Now, typically this game features Ryan needling the interviewer in this game into demonstrating something with him, but this time Jane throws Ryan for a loop, revealing that Ryan’s book about mold is a poetry book, and she asks him to read a sampling. He has a look of rebounding, which he’s had surprisingly a lot this show. And then, nervously, he goes “…I’d LOVE TO.”

Ryan’s mold poem: “Bread. Bread. The green doth grow.
…Grows on the bread and in between my toe.
Why it grows there, nobody knows…
…..Thank you, thank you, Doctor Scholl’s.”

Another really nice game of Expert with Ryan, with a lot more to it than regular ones, from the audience suggestions getting ignored, to there definitely being a dynamic between Jane and Ryan.

Whose Line: Sam goes to see Private Eye Ryan

…Two Sam&Ryan games on the night? And Chip has done NOTHING all night!

Clive mentions they call Private Eyes ‘private dick’s in the US
Sam: “Well, we call SOMETHING that, I dunno if it’s the same thing as you mean.”
I did not like the way he delivered that. And it doesn’t get good audience response either.

Sam: “I’ve come to you as a means to my last resort….”will you marry me?”
Sam, for a moment, breaks character and has this sort of annoyed, ‘oh brother’ kind of look. As if he didn’t come off gay enough in the dick joke.
Ryan: “I will, but I’ll no longer be a private dick…”

Ryan: “I’ve already got my vows prepared…you, the man I want to marry, come live with me forever….”beef, lettuce, tomato, hold the mayo”
Laughed very hard at that one
Ryan: “I want you to put everything on me and then lick it off!”

Sam’s second line is ‘watch out, the floor’s just been painted’
Ryan: “I knew that…for I am a private eye…”

Ryan: “But don’t even bear in mind, what they say about us….”Never trust sheep.”
A rather poignant moment to end the scene on

Pretty nice, very funny, though broader than most Whose Line games, and with some very broad acting from Sam.

World’s Worst: Person to be stuck in a lifeboat with

Chip, with his first line of the show: “….How you doin, I’m Jeffrey Dahmer…”
Ryan: “The sharks love this, watch- HERE BOY!”
Ryan: “I don’t like to pollute the ocean, so I’ll be relieving myself right here on the raft.”
Sam: “Okay, so here’s how you use a pickaxe!”
Ryan: “….do the sound of the Bee-Gees voices get you really excited?”

A lot of unfunny ones in there, but a generally okay one.

Props: Jane and Ryan vs. Sam and Chip

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 12.22.02 PM.pngRyan: “That’s right, I’m the Irish Bart Simpson. Problem with that?”

Not a very good round. Again, Sam’s choices were very broad and unfunny.

Backwards Scene- Ryan and Sam- doctor’s office
First Line: are you the proctologist?
Last Line: are you done yet?

Debut of this game, which would be done intermittently, and have a few nice rounds here and there.

This game gels into a formula very quickly- Sam says a line, then Ryan says something that sets up the line Sam just said. It goes on, and on.

Finally, Sam realizes what he should be doing, and goes “…1984, why?”
This gets Chip and Jane laughing, and throws Ryan for a loop.
Ryan: “…what’s your favorite wine?”

Sam: “Hey, you don’t have to beat me about the face and body”
Ryan: [does so]
Sam: “Well, I’ve seen a lot of asses in my time, but you’re the biggest one.”

And then, as usual, Ryan gets someone to tell a joke backwards. Sam has 5 seconds of ‘OH SHIT’

Sam goes ‘well, yes I am one, why?”
Ryan realizes he’s forgotten the starting line, then gets a genius idea: “My wife’s been…fooling around with a lot of men. You’re not one, right?”

Thankfully, Sam sets up the first line perfectly, and Ryan ends the scene. This got better as it went along, but Sam’s still not perfect at improv, and that takes me out of it occasionally.

Party Quirks: Sam hosts
Jane: TV aerobics instructor
Chip: Miss World contestant
Ryan: thinks he’s dog in heat

Sam is sweeping up
Clive: “…what are you doing?”
Sam, ever the improv smartass: “I’m creating a reality, Clive.”

Chip does garner a laugh upon entry, waving nonchalantly from the step.
Chip: “I’m Karen, from the great state of Texas, from the greatest country in the World, the United States of America, and I’d like to use my breasts to promote World Peace.”

Sam: “I’d like you to try my hors’doerves’
Chip: “Thank you- I think hors’doerves hold a vital role in any industry…”

Then, once everyone’s gone, Ryan comes over and humps Sam’s leg. The whole time, he’s looking over at Chip, not believing how ridiculous this crap is.

The rest of this is just very funny…Ryan sniffing butt and looking around at Sam, whose attempts to stay in the closet may have been foiled by this episode, looking bashfully at Ryan.

Ryan, after he’s guessed, walks back to the seats, going ‘…actually humping a man’s leg on TV’…still not believing that he did that, and to a gay man, no less.

Pretty funny game, though…again, something about Sam is pissing me off.

Helping Hands: Chip learns first aid from Ryan (ft. Sam’s hands)

Just great. Sam was just humped by Ryan, and now he has to be Ryan’s hands in this game. How the tables have turned.

Chip wisely gets Ryan to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth on the blow-up dummy. Sam is already raising it as Ryan’s trying to explain. It’s inevitable.
Ryan: “the hardest part of all of this is holding their entire body up in the air.”

Ryan: “You think you can do that, Billy?”
Chip: “I think so.”
Ryan: “Alright, I’ll get rid of the dummy, then. Try it with me!”

Sam has trouble getting the stethoscope around Ryan’s ears, nailing one
Ryan: “Only put half the ears in, then you’ll get half the heart!”

Chip is great at leading the game on, as there’s five seconds where he won’t put the bottle of antacid pills in Ryan’s, or Sam’s, hand.

The game ends with Ryan throwing pills in his, and Chip’s mouth. Afterwards, Sam hands some to Jane. They must not have been pills, probably mints or something.

Pretty solid game, with a nice amount of Ryan responding to frantic Sam moves.

Hoedown: Sex Change

This…has not aged well at all.

With the un-PC-ness, there is some good stuff in here. Jane sings about ‘discover[ing] that I’ve got a brand new bone!’, Ryan ends his verse with ‘they cut….off my willy!’

Chip’s verse is a pretty great one, though
“I had a little boy, you know his name is Tom
I was his daddy once, but now I am his mom
I was a tough one, as tough as old Charles Bronson
Until I went to the hospital, and they cut off my Johnson”
Again…the rhymes he comes up with. Nobody else is doing anything like that.

Better than the last few hoedowns, but still pretty unmemorable.

Overall: Well…this is a tricky one. Because this episode featured two people that didn’t work well with the show, absolutely shafted one of its recurring performers, and gave its other recurring performer the ENTIRE SHOW. So structurally, there was a bit amiss with this episode. HOWEVER…There weren’t any truly terrible games. Every game had some nice jokes, some great lines, and some great Ryan Stiles performances. If Ryan Stiles hadn’t been here, overexposure or no, this would have been worse than 1×06. Ryan brought out the best in Sam, despite Sam doing some really annoying improv things that I didn’t love. He also worked well with Jane, despite her not really playing well with others, and pissing him off a few times. Chip had a nice night, but we barely saw him. So while this was a fun watch, it’s marred by some internal decisions that fucked with the overall effect of the improv.

Show Winner: Sam
Best Performer: Ryan, by far
Worst Performer: Sam. Too catty, too broad, too obnoxious.
Best Game: Expert. They worked so much into that game, and it all worked.
Worst Game: Props. Nothing funny, and Ryan got rubbed the wrong way by Jane.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E09, or Number One: Stop Tap-Dancing You Fool!

Last episode, we had three improv comedy legends get their performances hampered by someone who wasn’t very good at all. Tonight we hope to get things rolling again…by having the exact same equation. I’ve been an occasional defender of Ron West’s, as his performance in S02E14, proving that anyone can be funny when standing next to Rory McGrath. Tonight, when faced with three supremely funny counterparts in Colin, Ryan and Greg, I’m sure things will go over fine. [panicked expression]

Scenes from a Hat

Clive: “Strange traffic violations.”
Colin: “D’you know how fast you were going on that pogo stick?”
[A definite classic.]

Clive: “Seems to say ‘peeing your name in the snow’…”
Colin: Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 9.53.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 9.53.41 PM.png
Ron, trying to do at least something funny: “Lovely handwriting…”
Clive: “Enough of old Canadian traditions…”

Clive: “Giving up smoking”
Ryan: [pats Colin down furiously]

Lightest SFAH yet, with a few obvious jokes here and there. Ron couldn’t really get a laugh.

Old Job New Job: Colin and Greg work in a burger bar, Ryan, ex-marine, joins them.

Clive asks Greg if they have burger bars in America, saying: “well, that’s your contribution to the world.”

Ryan shows the intensity that this game needs the second he enters, making Greg bob for fries and making Colin drop and give him 20…burgers. It’s clear he’s trying to ape R. Lee Ermey, but it’s not an impression.

One of the best parts is when Colin, after being yelled at for most of the scene, finally snaps and yells, even louder, “I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN SIR!” How Ryan didn’t crack at that I’ll never know.

Ryan: “I can be a nice burger man, OR I CAN BE A MEEEEAN BURGER MAN, D’YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING?”
Greg, scared out of his mind: “…..the happy meals are ready!”
[I laughed at that]

A really fun and worth-it scene. Yes, volume reigned supreme here, but also there was so much manic energy about that the whole thing worked, not just with Ryan but with everyone.

Questions Only: Ryan and Colin meet at the beach

This game gets its debut, and it’s different than future iterations- instead of being a quickfire contest, it’s more like early Song Titles- they have to stay up there and do an entire scene speaking in questions.

This scene skews homoerotic very quickly, as Ryan’s professing his love and Colin, in agreement, keeps asking rhetorical questions like ‘DOES A BEAR DOODIE IN THE WOODS?’

You can tell they’d need modification, because Colin gets very strained after a while, and Clive has no choice but to cut it. Ryan, as he heads back to the seat, is even going ‘MAN…THAT’S HARD, ISN’T IT?”

Party Quirks: Greg hosts
Ron: On a jungle expedition
Colin: thinks he’s an octopus
Ryan: a basketball player (HA!)

Colin as an octopus cracks me up, in how fast he’s moving, and how fluidly he’s moving. It’s not Ryan-esque physicality, but it’s still really funny in the amount of energy that’s there.

The game takes off when Ryan comes in, so that these three personalities bounce off each other perfectly. you have Ryan moving and dribbling, Colin moving manically with tentacles, and Greg…getting out of the way.

Greg does eventually guess Colin when Colin’s putting all his arms around Greg, which is hysterical.

Whose Line: Colin tries to get through customs, headed up by Ryan

Ryan notices that Colin doesn’t have a car, that he’s walking through customs.
Colin: “Well, I need to build up my thighs.”

Colin: “Well, my doctor told me…it was so long ago, he said …. [reads line] “damn you’re sexy”. I couldn’t take it, I had to get the hell out of this country.”

Ryan: “Now that you’re in the States, I have to read you some rules about being an American. Number one: [reads] “…STOP TAP-DANCING YOU FOOL!”
Ryan: “Give it up! I understand that’s what made you sexy, but you’re not gonna need that in the States!”
Colin: “I was gonna shuffle off to Buffalo!”

Colin, on his mother’s last words: “She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said [reads] “where did that kangaroo come from?” SHE DIDN’T SEE IT COMING, IT PUNCHED HER RIGHT IN THE HEAD AND GAVE HER A CEREBRAL HEMORRHAGE!”
Ryan: “My god!”
Colin: “So I decided to come to a country where there are no kangaroos!”

Ryan ends the scene by leading Colin in the national anthem…and then he goes into ‘America the Beautiful’, which is NOT our National Anthem. It puzzles the shit out of Colin, but he goes with it. Ryan does get in his last line in the song, which is “NEVER SIT ON BARBED WIRE WHEN YOU’RE NAKED!”

Another really nice round of Whose Line. Because this is longer form improv, it’s a chance to attempt a return to the more sophisticated humor of the UK version while still allowing for occasional Americanized beats.

World’s Worst: Person to be President

(from the makers of World’s Worst Person to be Prime Minister)

Ryan, getting the obvious one out of the way: “Hello, I’m George Bush.”
Greg, foretelling the future: “You know what’s wrong with this country? MINORITIES!”
Ron, with one of his few funny jokes of the night: “I hereby abolish congress, and am going to set up a gigantic water slide!”
Colin: “…Have you ever seen a penis this big?”
[This cracks up the whole panel, and Clive]

Funny round, though with a weak middle, and some unfunny Ron ones.

Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and Ron

This is one of the first times where you can see that there was effort put in to make the props look strange and outlandish looking. Ryan and colin’s is a foam make-up, while Greg and Ron’s looks to be plastic or metal.

Ryan would do variants on this joke for the rest of his run, but let it be known that this one was actually really funny:
Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.23.35 PM.png
Ryan: “D’you have a table for David Byrne?”

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.24.41 PM.pngGreg: “Hi, I just got back from heaven. That atmosphere re-entry’s a bitch!”

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.25.26 PM.pngColin: “HEY YOU, THE GIANT! STOP PEEING ON THE ALPS!”

A pretty fun round. Also, we’re more than halfway through, and there’s been one funny joke from Ron.

Helping Hands: Colin tries to dictate a letter to his secretary, Ryan (w/Greg’s hands)

Character-wise, this is already great, with Ryan as a vain secretary. The pen lands in his mouth, and Greg uncaps it…while Ryan spits out the cap moments later.

A lot of the game is Colin making Ryan do things, and Ryan struggling because Greg can’t see over him. It’s a very silly, Mr. Magoo-type thing that works out because of Ryan’s character, and how impatient Colin grows.

Colin: “Type me something fast so I can stay hot.”
Ryan prepares to type something, but Greg tries sticking envelopes in the paper tray, which confuses Ryan. He goes “oh, there’s paper in there, I hadn’t noticed.”

The scene ends with Ryan professing his love to Colin, and before it has time to be emotional or funny through there…Ryan throws in a boob joke and the scene ends.

Good scene, with very funny stuff, but below the standard of Helping Handses for this season.

Film Dub: Ryan and Ron argue over who gets to sit in the comfy chair. Greg is the woman.

This is a surprisingly nice Film Dub, without any real lags or dissonance on who’s speaking. Ron even does well, going ‘man, everytime someone sits in my chair I’VE GOT TO KNOCK A BOX OVER!”

Greg: “That’s alright, fellas, I’ll just lay on the floor and you can sit on ME…”

Funnier than the last hunk of Film Dubs. Ryan, as he heads back, is heard aloud going “WHERE DO THEY GET THESE IDEAS FROM? ‘A COMFY CHAIR!'”

Superheroes: Acid Rain is terrorizing the world
Greg: Psychic Man
Ryan: Man Who Says Everything Twice Man
Ron: Man Who Censors Himself
Colin: Boneless Boy

Clive, getting superhero suggestions for Greg: “…Somebody there said Sperminator….unfortunately I didn’t hear.”

Greg does make the most of his superhero name, knowing the world crisis even before he reads it on the World Crisis Monitor.

Ron actually has a crafty approach- instead of using bleeps, he second-guesses, pauses, and goes ‘no, I don’t wanna say that’. Different approach.

Ron does seem discouraged by his quirk, and keeps quiet. Perhaps this is what Greg and Ryan wanted. Still, Ron does mention Boneless Boy, and Colin completely owns the quirk, falling down and doing the correct physicality.

Ryan and Ron spend about 10 seconds trying to get Colin back up, only for him to fall back down. It’s the Whose Line equivalent of Sideshow Bob stepping on the rakes.

Once Colin does figure out the solution, Ron and Ryan essentially throw him offstage, which is fantastic.

Very funny game, with good work from everybody (but Ron).

Hoedown: Skiing

Ron’s verse, as with the theme, is not funny.

Ryan, bringing it back arguably to Scenes from a Hat, ends his by saying ‘the best part is writing with pee-pee in the snow…”

Colin actually attempts to sing here, rather than doing his usual talk-singing, but his lyrics and eventual pun are pretty basic, though better than the pack here.

Not a great Hoedown, but there haven’t been many classics so far anyway.

Overall: Not as bad as the Archie show, simply because Ron’s better than Archie. Ron didn’t have an especially good show, but had some moments, and was able to produce some jokes that work, in between all the ones that didn’t. He wasn’t an obstruction, as the show went on pretty well thanks to the strength of the other three. This was a particularly nice show for Colin Mochrie, having some hysterical physicality, and some great lines early on, not to discredit some nice Ryan and Greg performances. Generally an okay show, even if it’s below the standard that’s been set by this impressive S4.

Show Winners: Colin and Ryan
Best Performer: Colin, for being really, really funny tonight.
Worst Performer: Ron. Not a great night.
Best Game: Whose Line, narrowly edging out Superheroes for just having more fantastic lines, and being a better-rounded scene.
Worst Game: Hoedown. Not a ton to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E08 or ZAIRE? I asked for Lapland!

The Ryan and Greg combo continues its reign of New York, now featuring an appearance from Chip Esten, and the obligatory return of a guy…who’s been here since Series 1…and is only now deciding to leave.

Archie Hahn’s last appearance was…not good. At all. He and John Sessions sank the momentum of a perfectly good Ryan & Mike show. He’s had approximately one landmark show, S02E09, featuring a great round of Sound Effects and a great run in Party Quirks. Now, he’s got a ponytail, and looks incredibly out-of-place among the younger, and, well, better improvisers.

Scenes from a Hat

What, we START with SFAH? Okay then…

Clive: “Arguing over the tip”
Archie: “I got it.”
Chip: “Look, I circumsized him, I get to keep it…”
Clive, as the audience howls at this: “Yes, off to a great, tasteful start…”

Clive: “What else did Noah take with him on the ark.”
Archie comes in carrying some large object
Ryan: “…Budweiser?”
Archie cracks, as that’s better than what he had

Clive reads an incredibly wordy one about two scuba divers, which leads to Chip just floating around stage for 5 seconds…then walking off. Ryan, to at least the scene worth it, runs across as some fish.

Clive: “The last words of a sewer-cleaner”
Chip: “…that lid looks a little smAAAAUUUUGGHHH”

Clive: “A pointless way to die”

A few too many on-the-nose ones, but still an amusing round. Archie hasn’t made a single joke, though.

Alphabet: Greg buys an airline ticket from Ryan (starting with F)

This is a particularly amusing Alphabet, as Greg wants a ticket to Lapland, and Ryan and Greg wonder why so many people want to go there.

Ryan: “Yes, here’s your ticket”

For one of the first few times, they wrap up the scene positively, without missing a letter or getting confused. Even Ryan asks Clive ‘did we skip any?’, possibly referencing the time he forgot the letter O existed

Song Styles: Chip sings a reggae song to Yvette the Receptionist

For the first time, a new Song Styles format, one that’d be used to this day- Chip has to sing to a member of the audience. This works better than the ‘starting/ending line’ one, and allows for more audience participation, which the show hadn’t really had by that point.

Already, the energy that Chip throws into this reggae song is pretty admirable. He has his usual rhyming and word choice (including “sometimes I drop my drawers, and she gives me shorthand.”)

At the end of the day, this is a fantastic song styles, not only in terms of how nice of a reggae song it is, but in terms of how great the lyrics are, and how much fun Chip is having. I wonder now why they didn’t get Chip for Series 5, or a longer tenure. Possibly it was due to the return of Josie Lawrence’s better moods.

Party Quirks: Chip hosts
Archie: thinks he’s been shipwrecked
Greg: elevator operator
Ryan: champion wrestler

This is an extremely quick game, one that’s without much time for the participants to interact, but Chip carries it, guessing each easily, and having nice jokes.

World’s Worst: Person to be a Parent

Ryan: “How many weeks can you leave a baby alone?”
and then, as people are still recovering from his last joke,
Ryan: “She just loves to play with that dry-cleaning bag”

Ryan: “My baby’s not spoiled. They all smell that way…”
Greg: “Son, you can really take a punch. Now it’s your turn!”
Chip: “…Hi, I’m Clive Anderson.”

You can hear Ryan and Greg doing overexaggerated laughs at Clive’s expense as they head back to the seats

Great round. Archie’s weren’t funny. We’re halfway through and that’s still 0 successful jokes on the night for Archie.

Bartender: Chip tends bar
Greg: angry about no toilet paper
Ryan: has bunions on his feet

I don’t believe Bartender has been done yet on the UK version, and having Chip kick it off is a wise move, as he and Mike would lead it to some amazing starting rounds.

Greg’s verse is a bit lowbrow, and Chip brandishes it off with ‘go on back and you can use my towel’.

Chip is still excellent at backing up at this game, giving an ‘oooohh ooooh’ as Ryan does his verse about only needing one reebok. Chip does hit this one out of the park after a crack-up at a ‘cuttin onions’ rhyme, but he brings it home by suggesting Ryan go to see Dr. Scholls.

Solid game, though not as good as the round of Psychiatrist from e5

Props: Ryan and Greg vs. Archie and Chip

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 9.30.28 PM.pngChip: ‘REALLY safe sex!”

Also, Ryan does his first of many ‘you have a table for Madonna’ jokes

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 9.32.03 PM.pngChip, with the cleverest pun of the evening: “This is Frankie, that’s a net!”

Film Dub: Ryan tries to get Archie, his secretary, to make him a drink

Not a great one, because Archie manages to disagree with HIMSELF throughout the scene, rather than just yes-anding Ryan.  Just a very haphazard one all around.

Helping Hands: Greg is seeing child entertainer Ryan (w/Archie’s hands)

First of all, I think it’s very amusing that Archie’s head comes around lower than Ryan’s shoulders.

Greg, with two balloon animals, is pissed.
Ryan: “Hey…never hit an adult…”
Greg: [throttles ryan with balloon animals]

There’s no ‘making Ryan eat something bad’ this time, but Archie has Ryan blow up a balloon, and gets it stuck on Archie’s finger. There’s a five second period where Archie’s flailing his arms and Greg’s trying to get the balloon. It may be the only funny thing Archie does all night.

Greg, post-throwing things: “this is bogus! You smell like bourbon!”

Pretty nice game, as everyone was able to keep it high energy, and roll with the punches.

Hoedown: Doing the Laundry

Archie has arguably the worst Hoedown verse ever made. It’s not rhythmic, it’s not in time, it’s not PC, and it’s not funny. George Wendt did a better Hoedown. And that’s saying something.

Again, not an especially good round, but Chip’s verse saves it from being terrible.

Overall: It’s not everyday when one person can drag down an entire show. Archie Hahn wasn’t funny at all tonight, and brought the momentum down with him, as the show awkwardly tried to use him as little as possible. It sort of worked, with Chip and Ryan having some great moments, and having games like Helping Hands, World’s Worst, Song Styles and Alphabet that really rocked. But I can’t really put myself through a show like this again when I know that Archie will only be funny by accident. Arguably the first truly bad show of S4

Show Winner: Archie
Best Performer: Chip, for mastering the games tonight, and having the kind of performance that justifies his usage this season
Worst Performer: Archie Hahn, for…not making a single successful joke on the night.
Best Game: Song Styles. Just a fantastic song by Chip.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Not good.