We’ve already hit a groove where a lot of the shows in this series are shockingly good, especially coming off of two Caroline Quentin-led shows (and on the verge of a third, and arguably superior, one in E6). Now we have a return from Greg Proops, and a less accessible return for Niall Ashdown, who had a nice enough debut in 7X01, and is back to go up against the performers a few more times this series.
Superheroes: Shortage of Tea Bags
Greg: Super Spud
Ryan: Double-Take Boy
Colin: Extinct Animal Boy
Niall: Extremely Nervous Compulsive Liar Boy
Clive: “…Spud is a type of potato we have over here, or a word for it.”
Greg: [bites lip]
Clive, getting a crisis suggestion: “The butt is late?”
Clive: “How can your butt be late? It always comes along behind anyway, doesn’t it?”
Audience member: “Shortage of tea bags!”
Clive: “…Okay! Welcome to England, Mr. Proops! This is what counts as a crisis over here.”
Ryan, entering: “Sorry, my butt was late.”
Ryan, as Double Take Boy, is seamless, providing just enough comedic timing between double takes.
Colin: “I came as quickly as I could!”
Of course, Colin’s superhero name is just another excuse to do his world-famous dinosaur impression, which the audience, OF COURSE, eats up.
Once Niall enters, his superhero name gives him more outlandish, exaggerated double takes than Ryan’s.
Ryan: “THEY’VE GOTTA BAND TO- [double take] THEY’VE GOTTA BAND TOGETHER ON THIS!”
As everyone argues, Colin walks around as a dinosaur, still.
Ryan: “Gotta go, I’m…double parked.”
A very funny game. I’ll say that Niall’s resolution, that he actually stole all the teabags, was a bit clumsily handled, but it’s not a huge deal, considering how funny the rest of the game was.
Secret: Ryan and Colin are butchers. The secret is hidden in the beef
At moment one, there’s something about the dynamic, especially Ryan, that’s especially silly tonight, in a lot of the line reads.
Unlike usual playings, tonight Ryan is the one discovering Colin’s secret, and it’s a good thing, too.
Ryan: “Oh my god…pictures of me…HUNDREDS OF PICTURES…Of ME.”
Colin: “I’m…giving them to my doctor. I want him to perform a Ryanectomy.”
An ingenious moment of thinking from Colin, which the audience also loves.
Colin, explaining his rationale: “BEEF IS NOTHING If I can look over every customer…”
The audience takes a moment, and finally gets this joke.
Colin does some great acting in pleading that he wants to be Ryan
Colin: “The doctors say everything’s ready, it just took them 3 weeks to find the flamingo legs.”
Ryan…surprisingly doesn’t react to this one, even if everyone else does.
The ending reveal, that Ryan is really a cow, is a bit out of left field…even for a game featuring the concept of a Ryanectomy, but it can’t stop the game’s momentum.
Song Styles: Niall sings a love song to Mark the Bank Manager
Oh yeah, I forgot Niall was also a great musical improviser.
This one begins with a funny moment- Clive points to a lady in the audience, and asks her name…only for the bloke sitting next to her to answer “Mark”, thinking it was him. The whole section of the audience claps at this.
Clive: “…well, it’s nice to see you, Mark…I was pointing to the lady sitting next to you, but nevermind that…you got in there first, which is perhaps why people fall in love with you…”
Mark, after being asked for his occupation: “I’m a…er…bank managerish type of person”
Niall, singing like a pro: “Well, the statement came through the door, and I just laughed
I had a 5,000 pound overdraft…”
Niall: “So I went right down…to the bank
Saw a man called Mark who was mysterious and dank”
[Who would have thought that in 1996, Niall Ashdown would invent the term ‘dank’ so tons of dumb teens could use it in the 2010s]
It’s a very fun, very simply-done country-ish song from Niall, especially considering the chain of events that led to him singing to some guy. Insanely well-handled, and with Esten-esque lyrics.
Changing Emotions: Ryan, Colin and Greg are in a log cabin
Clive: “…and when you have the torch in your hand, you have to be touchy-feely”
Colin: [hands torch to Ryan]
Greg, starting the scene by raising the axe: “…WHO LEFT THE MILK OUT?”
There’s already a great contrast. Greg goes into his furious nearly-word mutterings, while Ryan’s just using his hands to calm everybody down.
Greg, grabbing the torch: “…wow, the, uh…lights seem to have gone out….it’s kinda dark in here, isn’t it?”
And with this, he gets very close to Colin.
Greg, with a line that unfortunately is drowned out: “Is that an axe in your hand?” [or…]
Ryan suggests that someone build a fire, so Colin hands him the axe. Ryan, who thought someone else should do it, goes around and starts passive-aggressively chopping wood with the axe, which is just large enough to be a goofy little prop here.
Colin: “hey, relax…”
Ryan: “YOU RELAX!”
And with that, Colin is stabbed in the gut with the axe. Which is a funny modification on the prop usage.
Colin: “WELL. THANK YOU VERRRRY MUCH.”
Greg, with the torch, to Ryan: “That was such a nice thing to do…”
Colin: “Well, now it looks like we’ll have enough food for FIVE DAYS.”
Ryan, with the torch, brushing off Colin’s lower half: “Oh no, you’re bleeding, you’re bleeding…”
Greg then grabs the axe, and starts flailing it around. He then looks to the still-dying Colin, realizes he still has to work with that, and cracks up a little bit.
Meanwhile, as Ryan and Greg have a tense argument with both the props, Colin, with nothing left to do, starts spilling out blood and dropping to the floor.
Then, as Colin’s about to die, they give him both props
Colin: “You know, just beFORE I GO…JUST GIVE ME ONE LAST SHAG!”
Electric. It moved so seamlessly, and had great work from all three, even Colin with the last line. Ryan, as they’re heading back to the seats and the show’s cutting to commercial, is cracking up, saying “diiirtty…”
Number of Words: A Bank Robbery
Colin: Teller, 5
Niall: Teller, 3
Greg, robber, 1
Ryan: robber, 2
Colin and Niall start the scene counting money
Colin: “One-two-three-four-five. [licks] One-two-three-four-five.”
Niall: “One two three….one two three.”
Colin: “COME ON, PICK IT UP!”
Ryan: “Withdrawal please”
Niall: “…right. yho, sir?”
[I love the way he phrased that]
Ryan: “HANDS UP!”
Colin: “My god, he’s got a…”
Niall: Just act naturally”
Colin: “Do you want small bills, or…”
Ryan: “BIG BILLS!”
Colin pulls out a gun.
Ryan: “You won’t.”
Niall: “SHOOT THEM BOTH!”
Colin: “…okay okay okay okay okay”
Ryan: “Bulletproof glass!”
Colin: “I forgot about that glass.”
Niall: “Wait a minute.” [rolls back glass.]
A very simple, but still hilarious, Number of Words. Colin, once again, had the craftier uses of the limit.
Director: Greg and Ryan act out a scene from Star Wars; Colin directs
A debut for a game that would eventually become a staple of the US edition, and…well, honestly take the place of F&TS once it became a three person game.
Like the beginning of the Drew Carey era, Colin’s suggestions are on pieces of paper, not improvised.
This is a basic game, solely because the movie Ryan and Greg act out is preexisting. Colin’s ‘CRAP. CRAP. CRAP.’ is iconic from the moment he first says it.
Greg has a nice moment where, as Colin’s reading out the suggestion, he lifts up his Vader mask and still emits a deep=voiced ‘WHAAAT?’ Colin is briefly caught off guard by this.
Ryan and Greg: “…fzzzt- AAAHHH!”
Greg: “I…AM…A member of your family that I can’t disclose right now.”
Ryan: “what are…what are you saying? You’re my father?”
Greg: “NO! NOT YOUR FATHER!”
Colin, reading out the next suggestion: “EMPHASIZE EVERY OTHER WORD. EMPHASIZE…every OTHER…word.”
Ryan: [emphasizes every other lightsaber noise]
Ryan: “you’re NOT my FATHERRR”
Greg: “IIII am YOUR…”
Colin: “ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, THAT WAS MAGICAL! I HAD TO CHANGE MY PANTS!”
There’s a great recurring motif where Colin tells Ryan to shut up every time he tries to talk, which hits him around the third time, as he tries not to crack up.
Colin, reading the final suggestion: “Like you’re strippers. Constipated strippers that emphasize every other word. I’d show ya how to do it, but…LET THE MAGIC WEAVE ITSELF! ACTION!”
A worthy debut for this game, as Ryan and Greg embraced the silliness, and Colin’s director character was at an all time high already.
Sports Commentators: Greg and Niall commentate on Ryan and Colin, two flatmates late for work sharing the bathroom.
Clive; “Okay, you have sport in America, don’t you?”
Greg, who stayed silent the last time Clive had a slam like this, winces a bit, then releases: “Yeah, and sometimes we BEAT the Germans…”
There’s a HUGE crowd response from that one
Greg, trying to cover for that: “I’m just kiddin’, we never play them.”
Clive: “Well, in the war, when you join in…but I DON’T THINK THE GERMANS PLAY BASEBALL, DO THEY?”
Greg: “I’d love to chat, but I’m a little busy doing an improv show…”
Clive, STILL NOT DONE: “Have you worked out what the simple words mean yet?”
Greg, just about done with this shit: “…yes I have, Mr. A…”
Clive: “Jolly good…P.”
Greg: “Maybe you’re confusing this with your other show where you just TALK TALK TALK and never let anyone else talk.”
The crowd seems to side with Greg here, as Clive rears back from this insult.
Eventually, after Clive thanks Greg for plugging his show, the game gets going
Greg: “Good Evening, I’m Niall Ashdown!”
Niall: “…and I’m Greg PROOOOOPS.”
Greg and Niall: [break slightly]
Niall’s over-the-top American color commentator voice [“NOT MUCH ELBOW ROOM THERE, NIALL!] is already cracking up Greg.
What sets this apart from the last round of this game is just how energetic the game is right off the bat. Colin secures the bathroom first, and Ryan has this wide-eyed, ‘OH NO’ expression when he does.
Again, both competitors’ slow-mo silliness is at a high, as it helps that they’re both on the same page as Greg and Niall yelp from the sides.
Greg, mid-crack-up: “Clearly this is a foul, no one is calling it…WAIT, HE’S SHARPENING HIS RAZOR!”
Colin: [hits Ryan in the face with a razor]
Right when the game is delving right into Itchy-and-Scratchy territory, Clive mercifully ends the game, which is just silly enough to keep my attention the whole way through. Yes, Niall was a bit intrusive at times, but Ryan and Colin’s back-and-forth was fantastic, better than last time.
Greg: Lost his Virginity in Spain
There’s only one round present here, and it’s been nationalized like Psychiatrist, with a country instead of a style for Richard.
Clive, in setting up the game, introduces Greg as ‘my special friend, Greg Proops’. Which leads perfectly into the scene.
Clive, to the audience member: “LOSING HIS VIRGINITY? You look like such a sweet girl, and to come up with a suggestion like that…”
Another one: “PUBERTY!”
Clive: “No, let’s not move around that, we’ve got his virginity to celebrate, or losing thereof”
Clive: “And you’re celebrating, for some reason, the losing of your virginity, you must have a long enough memory for that, Greg…”
Greg: [grits his teeth, figuring out exactly what his verse is going to be about]
Niall, putting on an accent: “Would you like some tortilla…oh no, that’s Mexico. Who cares?”
Greg, detailing the conquest: “I got her home, she was beguiling
And when we had finished, she was smiling”
Then, as Greg goes into his second verse, Niall, for the background, adds an ‘AY YI YI YI YI YI!”, which gets a nice laugh from the audience, and Greg.
Greg, finishing up: “The senorita, was no woman
But…was TV presenter Clive ANDERSAAAAANNN…”
AS THE AUDIENCE GOES WILD, WE CUT TO CLIVE
Clive: “I remember it well.”
Greg: “He was so gentle, so nice!”
Niall: “Are you sure it was Clive Anderson?”
Greg: “I can’t be mistaken. His head glowed!”
Niall, going into his response verse: “YOU ARE THE LUCKIEST MAAAAN ALIVE!
NOW…THAT’S YOU’VE GONE TO BE-HED WITH CLIVE!”
Niall, ending with one last Greg slam for the road:
“It doesn’t matter about the failing of your plan
When you look like you…you’ve got to get it where you CAAAN!”
Niall and Greg high-five, shake their heads, and head towards the seats, ending this landmark show in a full circle from when we started…with a Greg slam.
Overall: Possibly one for the pantheon, and one of the most wall-to-wall perfect shows we’ve had in a long time. Niall was the more troubled improviser of the four, but even he had his fantastic moments, and worked very well with the other three despite making the most improv mistakes tonight. Ryan continued his recent trend of deferring more to other performers, and standing out less, which is fine. Greg Proops was generally passive for most of the show…that is, until the Clive slams proved too much, and he came ALIVE in the last half, owning games and Clive. For the UMPTEENTH TIME, this was Colin Mochrie’s show, and he had several showcases throughout the night, including Number of Words, Changing Emotions and, of course, Director. This show had SEVERAL stellar games, including Sports Commentators, Director, Changing Emotions, and a Bartender that seemed to be the culmination of the entire episode, and arguably the series. Deserves several watches and lots of accolades.
Show Winner: Niall
Best Performer: Colin, as usual this series
Worst Performer: Niall, for still needing to work on some improv mechanics throughout
Best Game: Bartender, because OH MY GOD
Worst Game: Number of Words. This was not by any means a bad game, but every other game was so good that a ‘funny but simple’ game like this one had to take this prize.