Onto the American tapings we go, for the last time until Series 10. On this route, the producers had reevaulated their priorities after some admittedly unspectacular episodes in New York the previous year. Now, the producers would emphasize Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops and Chip Esten, as they’d worked so well in the UK tapings, as well as bringing back Colin Mochrie, Ryan’s comedy partner, as he’d done well enough supporting Ryan in S03E12.
This episode featured three of those touchstones- Greg, Ryan and Colin would share the stage together for the first of several times. Also, for the first of MANY, MANY times, Colin would share the stage with newcomer Brad Sherwood, brought in as an incredibly young option from LA, to do singing games if Jim Meskimen or Chip Esten was not in house. Brad and Colin would later go on to become a double act just as powerful as Colin and Ryan.
Emotion Option: Ryan and Brad (in adjoining shower cuticles)
The New York audience, being, well, a New York audience, is raucous and loud, perhaps moreso than S3, when giving suggestions for emotions.
The first section has no dialogue, but the visual of Ryan just coming into Brad’s shower, with a look on his face, has enough to get me laughing early on.
This is a very motion-based scene, with not a ton of dialogue or character, focusing more on movement, like Ryan vomiting over the divider in the showers during ‘nauseously’.
Ryan: “…sorry, it’s just so clean over here, I didn’t wanna…”
Then, of course, the scene ends on a soap-dropping joke. And as Brad heads back to the seat, he does a huge ‘YES’ motion that he was actually able to do that.
This was very broad, very Americanized, and I didn’t love it, possibly because I’m used to UK playings of this game being more dialogue-based.
Clive, as he usually does: “I don’t know what sort of points to give there….69, NOW-”
One guy in the audience does a full YAHOO!
Old Job New Job: Greg does Colin’s hair- Ryan, a former fireman, takes over for him
First of all, let me get the obvious joke out of the way- HAHA, COLIN’S GOING TO A BARBER’S.
Greg: “Same as usual?”
Colin: “Yeah, if you could just comb it up over the top…”
Ryan comes in and shoots a water hose at Colin, exposing his unbuttoned top half of his shirt. And I thought we wouldn’t get that kind of material on this show until Tony ripped his trousers.
The scene ends with Ryan picking Colin up, throwing him over his shoulder, and moving to another chair. As Ryan and Colin head back to the seats, Ryan remarks “I picked a bad spot…”, referring to where he picked Colin up. Colin replies “i KNOW!”
This was a quick one, but Ryan made the best of it, possibly giving less character than Stephen’s playings.
Props: Ryan and Brad vs. Greg and Colin
Ryan: “You hold Dumbo, and I’ll clean out his ears.”
Brad: “So, this is all that’s left of Fred Flintstone’s car…”
I thought of that one too…
Colin: “DAMN THESE IMPLANTS!”
Clive, background: “Hey…”
Ryan: “….DAMN THESE IMPLANTS!”
Greg, with little choice: “….DAMN these implants!”
Also, note that Brad does the first of many Lost in Space references in Props. This will carry to the Aisha version.
This was an incredibly strong game of props, which is a breath of fresh air after E6. You can definitely see that Americans were much better at Props than most Brits.
Whose Line: Colin gets a bank loan from Ryan
I don’t think this game has been played on UK WL yet, and I can’t imagine anyone except for Sweeney & Steen playing it (it could be a foresight though), but if this is the debut, with Colin and Ryan, then it’s welcome.
As Clive explains the game, Ryan stuffs the lines in his pocket…then keeps his hands there…then closes his eyes. The audience does the math and laughs at this.
As Ryan closes a safe
Colin: “So how long are you gonna keep my wife in there? Until I, what, totally pay back?”
Ryan: “Well, don’t think of her as your wife anymore, think of her as collateral.”
Colin: “Her mother always said to her…[reads] ‘May 10,000 ants invade your underwear drawer…”
Ryan, with the wordplay: “My god, she comes from a large family!”
Colin: ‘She does! And damn fine workers, too…”
Colin is prompted to listen into the safe and see if his wife is saying anything. Unfortunately, he has to switch hands in order to wring the slip of paper out of his pocket and read it. Eventually he does figure out what his wife is saying: “…It’s time for the Royal Spanking!’ My god, she knows my weakness.”
Colin holds out his bum to Ryan
Ryan: “Well, I’d like to, but…I’m not in deposits, NOW..”
Ryan sticks up Colin and hands him a note.
Colin: “…You must dance for me while I name some vegetables.”
Unfortunately, this means it comes from Colin, and Ryan has to dance with the gun in his hand, while Colin yells “LETTUCE! RUTABEGA! CELERY!”
The scene ends with Colin joining him, and they both yell out vegetables as Clive buzzes in.
You can see why they still play that game to this day. There were so many great lines, the Colin-Ryan duo truly shone, the lines were silly enough, and it was just a ridiculously funny scene.
Party Quirks: Brad hosts
Colin: Synchronized swimmer
Ryan: cattle brander
Greg, as a cheerleader, does his patented ‘leap and touch his toes’ move that’d carry him to the early US era.
The second Colin comes in, I’m laughing hysterically. The frozen smile he has on his face, the little movements, diving into a bowl of dip. I’m gone.
And then Ryan comes in, ties up Colin and brands him. I’m literally dying here. This is very close to US WL in its physicality, and in how Brad’s running the party. This literally could have been in S1 of the US version.
Scenes from a Hat
Clive: “The good, the bad, and the ugly”
Ryan: “…we still waiting for ugly?”
Ryan: “OH, HERE HE IS!”
Colin’s face always kills me here
Clive: “Fortune cookies that tell the truth”
Greg: “…’You’re a cheap bastard and you won’t keep a tip’- HEY!”
Clive: “Mailman at a dog show.:”
Ryan comes on, sprays away Brad, tries spraying away Colin, but Colin just starts humping his leg, which cracks up the audience and amuses Ryan.
Clive: “…I mean, they only bite the person in England…speed the mail, I guess..”
Clive: “Bad ice cream flavors.”
Ryan: “mmmm, have you tried the pork?”
Clive: “…any game can end on the line ‘have you tried the pork’….any game I like, anyway…”
Solid round, but dull in a few areas
Sound Effects: Colin changes a baby’s diaper, Ryan provides Sound Effects
The first non-Archie playing of this game, and the first with this immortal duo in their respective roles.
This time, Colin has dialogue as well, even going ‘WHO PUT THE PET SNAIL THERE!’ as he hears a fart noise.
Also, the first sign of Colin’s Sound Effects brutality- a dog comes running in, and he chucks him out the window.
So many little things work here, like Colin putting the wrong end in front of the sink, Ryan’s ‘AIIIGH’ noise, the ‘pfff’ once he opens the diaper.
Even better, Colin does a sweeping motion with the diaper…and then goes to pick the baby off of the floor. It’s a hysterical touch that wins over the audience.
And then, right as Colin ties up the diaper, there’s a second beat, and then a loud ‘PFFFFFF’. There’s someone in the audience who screams at this.
Helping Hands: Greg helps Ryan (with Colin’s hands) prepare for a date
As a bonus, Greg rolls out his french accent for this game. Lots of future WL touchstones appear in this one.
And then, the classic moment where Colin throws a ton of toothpaste on a toothbrush, and brushes Ryan’s teeth as he winces.
And then, Ryan rinses…then spits into his hands, just to get back at Colin. Then, when he asks for a towel, Greg waves it in front of him and runs away.
Very funny game, though I’d put it below the more recent ones, like Jim shoving every food in his mouth, or Ryan dumping cereal in his mouth.
Superheroes: Greg, as Junk Man, has to save the world from English Television, with Ryan as Hyperactive Man, Brad as Cliche Boy, and Colin as Captain Poultry
And this staple of the American run debuts here as well.
I have to say that Greg’s reaction to the crisis suggestion is one of the happiest moments of his entire WL career. The second someone says ‘ENGLISH TELEVISION’, half the audience goes ‘OHHHHHHH’, Clive chuckles and rears back, and Greg just starts laughing hysterically at Clive’s expense, kinda like Mandark from Dexter’s Laboratory.
Clive, eerily prophetic: “So…JUNK-MAN has got to solve English Television’s problem…though it’s perfectly obvious that he’d just turn it into American television, but…”
The audience boos this one.
Clive: “Oh, now that’ll get the crowd on my side…”
Greg: “Bad call, homeslice.”
I love Ryan’s reaction to english television, writhing back and forth
Greg: “It’s just Benny Hill all day long”
“Ryan: “I KNOW, IT’S TERRIBLE!”
[Fun fact. After its original run, Whose Line reruns would land on BBC America, and its lead-in program would always be…yep, you guessed it, Benny Hill. Kinda odd he predicted that too]
Brad, as Cliche Boy: “Sorry I’m late, but better late than never.”
Colin enters as Captain Poultry and cracks up the entire room, as he hands out eggs and gets down the motions.
Brad: “And remember, don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”
Colin: “I’m gonna go over there and peck all their cameras into submission…it’s all I could think of…”
Ryan, as Colin leaves: “LOOK AT THAT! IT’S POULTRY IN MOTION!”
This is a pretty nice debut for the game, again, seeming just like the US version, especially in how the denouement seems so last-minute.
You can tell this is an especially receptive crowd when not only do they AWWWW when Clive announces that was the last game, but they go nuts when Colin’s crowned the winner. Colin bashfully swats them away.
Clive: “A popular winner on this night, with all the Mochrie family in the audience…”
Overall: I’d feared that, like S3, we’d see a huge decrease in quality with the move to New York. HERE? NO. There was something electric in the room tonight that we hadn’t really seen yet. There was something in how each of the games went, and how the performers got friendlier and looser as the night went on. There was something in how Brad looked like he’d been doing this for years, even if this was his first show. All four were incredible, and every game was a delight. This may have been the tipping point for the producers to goad them into giving Colin and Ryan and co more of a presence on UK WL.
Show Winner: Colin
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles, for absolutely owning the first stretch of the show, and being a better supportive team player in the latter half. Colin did come close, as he came into his own on the show for the first time.
Worst Performer: Brad Sherwood, but I owe this to the strength of the other three.
Best Game: Whose Line. Absolutely classic in every way. Superheroes and Props were right behind.
Worst Game: Emotion Option, for having the least to it.