After a good stretch of middling-to-okay shows, NOW Season 4 finally begins to kick into high gear again
This Greg Proops show is the first episode of a new taping of his. There’s a rather famous S5 episode from this taping involving a lowbrow joke from Colin, but here we have an equally-famous episode that’s known, really, for one game. And my what a game it is.
Weird Newscasters: Colin anchors, Greg, the dominatrix Colin has hired for the evening, co-anchors, Wayne, outraged secretary desperate to find out who left a photocopy of their butt in her in tray, does sports, while Ryan, about to die, his whole life flashes before our eyes, does weather
Ryan reacting to his quirk: “…how appropriate..”
Greg, right after Colin’s opening line: “GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES.”
Greg: “WHO’S A BAD BOY.”
Colin: “I’M A DIRTY ANCHOR. I’M A DIRTY ANCHOR.”
Colin, confused: “MORE, MORE…MA’AM….SIR.”
Greg burns Colin with a cigarette
Colin: “Hey, I’m trying to cut down!”
I kind of love that Greg has turned this usually formally-structured game into a deeper character study, and we’re seeing this usually stern Colin character in a different light, which is DEFINITELY a Second City idea, as they liked to establish their trunk characters before completely deconstructing them (at least on SCTV)
Wayne: “I took this job because I thought it was a NICE, DECENT COMPANY. I DIDN’T COME HERE TO SEE SOMEBODY’S BOOTY ALL OVER THIS PAPER.”
Wayne proves himself by picking an audience member who CLEARLY does not want to be a part of the proceedings, and then getting any other audience member out of the way and FORCING him to be a part of the scene. The poor guy looks so uncomfortable as Wayne’s sizing up his ass, but this arguably works
And, as this is Season 4, Wayne’s eyes go to Drew eventually.
By the time we cut back to Colin and Greg, Greg is twisting Colin’s finger back. Greg has essentially taken over the anchor duties, which, given his character, is fine. I do love Ryan’s confusion as he starts, waiting for the audience laughter to die down a bit
Ryan’s is a usual tour-de-force, simulating birth, youth, adolescence, war [“what are we fighting for Grenada for, I don’t even want this country”], and finally…doing a Hoedown. Which gets the whole place laughing
And after the poignant ending to Ryan’s, Greg is spanking Colin. Never a dull moment.
Drew quizzes Ryan on his service in Grenada
Ryan: “Yeah, I did two tours there, a week. Not the country, the car.”
A very fun WN, and I loved how it broke from tradition and became a deconstruction, especially with Colin and Greg. The two other quirks were great.
Hats: Dating Service Videos
Wayne, in a cabbie hat: “Alright, that’ll be 12.50.”
The audience doesn’t like this at all
Wayne, amused: “FOR THE TAXI CAB RIDE. You guys are horrible!”
Colin: “No. Let me give YOU a tip…”
Ryan: “If I don’t come in less than 30 minutes, I’m free”
Greg, in a bunny mask: “I’m not into protection”
Drew: “…say it again? I don’t think they heard you.”
Greg, being Greg: “Oh, could no one hear me. MAYBE IT’S CAUSE OF THIS FUCKING MASK I’M WEARING.”
I love Greg lashing out at the audience during this game
Colin, Santa mask: “AT THIS POINT, I’D EVEN TAKE A HO, HO, HO.”
[this one is funny BECAUSE there’s slight muffling under the mask]
Ryan holds this for about 10 seconds:
Ryan, eventually: “Oh, you can measure me, but you won’t be throwing ME back”
Pretty good Hats. Eventually we’d see the second half of this, which isn’t bad
Greatest Hits: Songs of College
Annnnd here we go
On the ‘what people do when they first leave home’ suggestion, ‘College’ wins but one girl yells out ‘DRINK!’
Greg, from the back: “DRINK!”
Wayne gives a thumbs up
Colin mentions Ryan could have been smarter if he’d gone to college
Ryan: “Well, I quit high school halfway through to serve our troops in Grenada.”
I forgot that was a running gag
Ryan: “I didn’t fight, I just…served my troops”
Ryan mentions this has “50 SONGS ON 50 CDS.”
Colin: “How many CDs is that a song?”
Ryan: “well that’s-” [fails to do the math]
Ryan does one of his ‘Colin gets a segue wrong gags’ here: “What comes to mind when I say ‘Ricky Ricardo and great cigars’?”
Colin, being himself: “Oh…TAPIOCA.”
Ryan, beginning to lose it: “….really? Why’s that?”
Colin, again not meaning to set off a wave of laughter: “Wasn’t that his big song? ‘TAPIOOOOOOCA. TAPIOOOOOOCA.”
Ryan, not hiding his amusement: “…No, Colin…”
I have no idea WHY this makes him laugh so hard. Maybe it’s just the sort of thing where if you work with someone for a while, you get in each other’s heads and you know how to set them off? Whatever the case, Colin, without meaning to, sets Ryan off, as he’s gone. Before he COMPLETELY LOSES IT in a second, he is VERY GONE here. What makes it very clear is what happens next:
Ryan: “I’M TALKING ABOUT CU-” [trails off into laughter]
And then watch Colin’s face:
Colin’s just thinking ‘I GOT HIM. I GOT HIM TO BREAK.’ Which is a gratifying feeling when you’re doing improv with someone. But Ryan is COMPLETELY gone.
One of the best parts of this is once Ryan’s gone and laughing, Colin does this small look to the camera:
THAT IS PRICELESS. He has no idea why Ryan lost it at THIS, but he’s not exactly complaining
And he’s just watching him go again
Ryan: “I’m talking about Cuba, Coli-” [loses it again]
And it gets even better:
This is probably the best shot. It’s the full experience. Wayne’s amused. THE ENTIRE BAND IS AMUSED. They’re all waiting for the first song, and Ryan’s peeing himself. Colin’s just trying to get him back to composure
And now Colin screws with him again:
Colin, trying: “CUBA. It’s a SMALL ISLAND.”
Ryan, still very gone: “It is…”
And he thinks he’s good to go on, and tries looking back at camera…but he’s not. So he just weakly goes “…why don’t you tell the people about it?”
Now Colin, and some offstage producer, realize it’s better to just switch to a different style and come back to Cuba, so Colin wisely takes control and says “why don’t we just leave Cuba behind for a second”
And Ryan gets back up and regains composure
Colin mentions this is a Ska number, and the audience cheers
Ryan: “…like a bunch of crows, SKAAAAAAA”
Colin, threatening him: “TAPIOCCAAAA.”
[it’s like proof that Ryan’s back and it won’t set him off again, which is nice]
Wayne’s ska number is pretty damn cool, and he has the flow and tempo down
Wayne does mention: “I listen to Cuban music, I love Tapioca”, which is a nice nod
Ryan has the perfect epilogue here, asking Colin: “What comes to mind when I say Tapioca?”
Colin: “The magical country of Cuba.”
It’s such a cute ending, proving that Ryan could get past it and keep composure once they went around it for a bit. Rather than working against Ryan’s giggles, Colin worked WITH HIM, and the game has not suffered
Ryan’s cuban title, “Alma Mater, Alma Faddah”, cracks up Wayne right before he’s about to sing. Which just fits with this game
Wayne, in his intro, does throw in a Ricky Ricardo ‘eh, eh, eh’. Possibly a tribute to Robin Williams
Wayne, once again, throws in ‘Tapioca’ as a vocal flourish late in the song. Somehow I’d forgotten how gung-ho Wayne was with this runner, using it in the songs just as a tribute to that Ryan moment, and maybe just to ensure it made air.
A GREAT Greatest Hits. I love it because it could easily be defined or marred by the opening blooper, but Colin and Wayne held on to keep Ryan composed, and made this a strong enough game on its own. Wayne’s songs are also really good here, even with the Tapioca references. Just a wholesome reminder of how good Colin and Wayne are at making their scene partner look good, even when they’re losing their cool.
Film Dub: Greg, Ryan and Colin are celebrating a special occasion
Ryan, immediately: “We’re getting divorced tomorrow and I want a special meal!”
Ryan, who’s character snaps disappointedly: “Oh, I forgot, I was gonna bring a knife to put in your back!”
Greg: “Have you tried your drink, it’s poison”
Ryan, opening a gift for Greg
Greg: “…A CENTIPEDE, HOW THOUGHTFUL!”
I love that line
I also love Colin’s character cheeringly bringing over a cake, as Colin just goes “HAPPY DIVORCE, HAPPY DIVORCE!”
Colin: “Look, the cake is burning like your love-”
Ryan: “I hope it’s made outta gun powder like I asked ya!”
I also adore Greg’s ‘FU-FOOOOF’ noise when his character blows out the candles
Colin: “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t-”
Greg: “Yes, if I’d done that while we were married, we’d still be married!”
Honestly, one of my favorite Film Dubs of the US run. All three are really in sync, and have such fun characterizations, and all get down the game of cheery malice.
Show-Stopping Number: Colin, Ryan and Wayne work in a toll booth
Well, we have a running gag, so this game makes sense
Colin: “Ya know what? I’m gonna wallpaper.”
I love the darkness of the eventual plot, where Ryan and Colin are gonna use the money they get from tolls to freshen up their booth and add wallpaper.
Ryan: “We can just scoop it up, look, I’m rich!”
Colin: “well….you’re not rich, we’re gonna use that to buy wallpaper!”
DREW, FOR SOME REASON, BUZZES HERE
COLIN THEN, FOR A BAR, JUST DANCES, SMILING. He did not think that’d be his cue line. So now he’s just thinking
He looks RIGHT AT DREW
Colin churns out a song about how much he loves his little toolbooth, culminating in some Busby Berkley arm-flailing
Greg and Ryan react well to this:
Ryan: “It’s kinda like stealing, isn’t it?”
Colin: “HEYYYY…WE’RE GOVERNMENT.”
I love Colin
Ryan says if anyone finds out about this “you’re done for, my friend”
Colin: “What, are you gonna hurt me?”
Ryan, not even masking the late-in-the-taping feels: “…I’m too tired to hurt ya!”
Ryan, shaking his head, goes right into his dancing while ALSO doing an extra bar to compose himself. I’m guessing this was an early playing of this game
Ryan does his verse while at the verge of losing it again:
“I’m taking the money, but I’m not on the take
I just find it hard, to stay awake
Oh boy, I’m sleepy, I could use a mocha
…I crack up when I hear TAPIOCA!”
I love Wayne’s hard-nosed toolbooth inspector character, just not hearing a word from them til he checks the money
Ryan pats Colin’s pocket and makes a ‘CHING-CHING-CHING’ noise
Colin: “That’s just my….Ching collection…”
Wayne: “It appears that your Ching collection belongs to the state, and YOUR BUTT belongs to the state as well.”
Drew, who clearly was very new at this game, buzzes here as well.
Wayne, given the theme, ALSO TAKES A BAR IN BETWEEN.
Wayne’s song is pretty fun, and a good capper on the scene, ending with “your butt’s gonna be the finest ching in the penitentiary”
This is probably the best Show-Stopping Number in this run. There’s a full story, each song progresses it, it’s fucking funny, and there’s a really fun idea with stealing government money for wallpaper. That’s some Coen Brothers shit. I loved this one. And the Tapioca reference helped too
World’s Worst: Priest or Rabbi
Wayne cracks a bit at the suggestion, as he should. The addition of ‘or Rabbi’ is enough to drive this into silliness
Greg, taking that suggestion to heart: “HOLD ‘IM STEADY, I’VE HAD A DRINK!”
Drew, as Clinton: “Yes, I heard your confession, and let me tell you, I don’t think you had sex with that woman…”
Ryan: “I understand, you slept with 3 women, [stage whisper] HE SLEPT WITH THREE WOMEN”
Colin: “hmm…well, say 10 Hail Marys and the Gilligan’s Island theme”
Greg has a fun one where he’s speaking in Latin, forgets some, and just goes “…uh…ixnay on the in-say…”
Also, Wayne is LOSING IT at these. Perhaps it’s his background as a Sunday School teacher [or something like that], but he’s loving these
Drew, randomly as Jerry Lewis: “WELL HI, IF YA GIVE ME THE KNIFE FOR THE BAYBEEEE, I’LL GIVE HIM A LIL’ CUT FOR THE HEIGHT!”
I think what makes it so funny is…Drew Carey has been hiding an impeccable Jerry Lewis impression from us all these years, and the sudden shock of hearing him doing a Rabbi is so ridiculous it just pulls everyone over the edge. Even Ryan’s going, in disbelief, ‘JERRY LEWIS AS THE RABBI?”
Greg snorts, leading Wayne to crack up again.
Hell, Wayne’s laughing so hard that he buzzes out Colin before he even does a joke, just to sustain composure
Ryan: “Today, I’ll be delivering the sermon as John Wayne. “IN DA BE-GINNING…”
Somehow this is NOT a reference to Multiple Personalities
SUCH a funny WW round. Even Colin had some good ones, and he’s normally quiet in this game. Just the silliness of Drew doing Jerry Lewis, or Greg doing pig-latin, and how much fun Wayne was having, drove this over the edge for me.
Overall: Was not expecting much more than GH from this one, but…once GH happened, everything became indestructible. And it wasn’t even the fault of a runner, just every game after that felt like the best playing of it either ever or in a while, and it didn’t feel light enough to just say ‘well that happened’. EVEN FILM DUB felt substantial. Even Show-Stop and World’s Worst felt good. Even HATS. And the tentpoles might be the big takeaways- WN is a deconstruction that works because of what it goes around, and what Greg brings to this game, as well as how well the rest of it goes. GH is also a deconstruction, as it obliterates the Ryan-Colin bickering and turns it into Colin understanding how broken-up Ryan is and altering the game so that he doesn’t feel horrible about cracking up in the middle of a round. Pretty much every game worked, every cast member had strong material all night, and even Drew felt like he was sinking free throws in WW.
Show Winner: Wayne
Best Performer: This was a three-way tie between Ryan, Colin and Greg, and I had to break it by asking ‘who had the smartest improv moves of the night’. And that’s obviously Colin, because of how he restructured Greatest Hits to help Ryan. But let it be known that this was Greg Proops’ best show in a while.
Worst Performer: This is what irks me. Wayne technically owned the least amount of games, but I still point to Weird Newscasters, Greatest Hits and Show-Stop as points where he did awesome work. It just sucks that he was overshadowed by people doing awesomer work, but that honestly speaks to how good this show was.
Best Game: I kinda have to go with Greatest Hits here, as it’s the classic, but there’s a ton of great games in this show.
Worst Game: Probably Hats? But in a worse show, Hats would be a highlight
COMING UP NEXT: Wellllll…it is a Brad Sherwood show, from the same taping as the very strong E17…and it’s one of the first instances on the show where we actually see the directors stop the show and censor an audience suggestion. And all I’m saying is that, with this cast, and their ability to bring back running gags, the censors should know better.