When comedian Ryan Stiles isn’t actually performing in Whose Live Anyway?, he’s laughing at it. Most nights, he does both.
That’s because every show is different, every moment unscripted, and every joke plucked from nowhere. It’s easy to get caught up laughing with the audience. The beauty of improv is its immediacy – there’s no time to fine-tune or finesse a gag. Once it pops in your head, you either spill it or get out of the way.
“Improv comics don’t think like stand-ups,” says Stiles, whose comedy roadshow hits the Scotiabank Convention Centre Oct. 5. “We don’t have to write down material.
“I actually have a hard time watching stand-up.”
Whose Live Anyway? is the traveling companion show to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which Stiles has been part of since the late ‘80s. He started with the British version, which caught the attention of comic Drew Carey who cast Stiles as the lanky Lewis Kiniski in The Drew Carey Show starting in 1995.
While working together, Carey convinced ABC to produce an American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? with Stiles in tow. Stiles joined Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady and a guest performer every week, with Carey acting as host.
The live version brings back many of the same features minus the host. It’s all based on audience suggestions, with Stiles joined by comics Greg Proops, Chip Esten and Jeff B. Davis.
The humour can be risqué, but never crosses over into “blue,” says Stiles. Which in itself can be challenge, as a dirty joke can often be the most obvious.
The key, he says, is to react to what’s going on around you instead of thinking about it too much.
“You’re listening to what they’re saying. We just play off each other.”
Nothing is worked out beforehand. Right up to show time, Stiles says the four performers are backstage talking about anything but the show.
“That’s the great thing about not touring a lot,” he says. “We don’t see each other too often, and they still make me laugh a lot.”
Stiles’ biggest concern is repeating himself. Because each show vanishes from the memory as soon as it’s over, there’s a chance the same skit could resurface.
It’s a small price to pay to keep doing what he wants. Stiles refuses to move to Los Angeles and prefers not to have a full-time TV gig. He has had a recurring role on Two and a Half Men for ten seasons, which suits him just fine.
It’s all part of a promise he made to his kids to be around more after the Drew Carey Show ended.
“I don’t want to be a full-time character,” he says. “My manager hates me!”
“As long as I can keep my dental and medical going, I’m fine.”
· WHAT: Whose Live Anyway?
· WHERE: Scotiabank Convention Centre, Stanley Ave.
· WHEN: Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m.
· TICKETS: $49.50 to $59.50 www.ticketpro.ca
Niagara Falls Review