I could barely contain my excitement as I sat in the Michigan Theater, processing that I was in the same room as Ryan Stiles and Jeff Davis, comedic legends who I have grown to love after watching them on Whose Line Is It Anyway, one of my favorite tv shows of all time. After spending months looking forward to this event, Whose Live was finally happening, and it did not disappoint.
Jeff Davis, Greg Proops, and Ryan Stiles were just as funny live as they are on Whose Line, proving that the television show really is improv comedy driven by audience suggestions. While Joel Murray is not a regular on the tv show, his comedic timing and improv was up to par with the rest of the more established improv comedians.
Classic improv games such as “Options” and “New Choice” were played, resulting in an interesting Dr. Seuss nihilism scene. Celebrity Jeopardy was also clever, with responses such as “What comes after Hamil-nine” in response to “Hamilton” and “What do you call a drunk grizzly” in response to “Beer.”
Music was present throughout the entire night, completely improvised by the musical director Bob Derkach, who was also musical director for Second City Toronto for 25 years. Jeff Davis sang a song for Stephanie, an avid fan of the show who was asked onstage at a previous show. He tried to serenade her in the style of Diana Ross but her love for Cathy, her partner, won out over her love for Jeff. The greatest hits infomercial about hairdressers resulted in wonderful duos by Jeff and Ryan in the style of country western, folk, and rock.
Audience participation was crucial, as always, to an improv show. In addition to all the suggestions shouted out as prompts for scenes, there was more direct participation in certain games. Ryan and Greg acted out the soap opera, “The Secrets of Saginaw”, with scripted lines written by audience members. The four comedians reenacted the first date of Karen and her partner of 17 years with a very similar name. The Polish and Macedonian couple kept the comedians honest in their improved reenactment by honking a horn when they got something wrong and ringing a bell when they got it right. Many truths were humorously exaggerated as their story played out onstage. “Sound Effects” was a game with two volunteers who provided the sound effects for Jeff and Joel, who were steel miners. Finally, for the encore, they invited Cathy, Stephanie’s partner, onto the stage. Ryan conducted a story of Cathy’s sick horse by pointing to each of the comedians and Cathy to continue the story, which ended in a injured and dead horse and zero sympathy from Cathy.
Many jokes were made about Saginaw and the Lions, probably because there are many jokes that can be made there. Stabs were also made at Canada, and Columbus, Ohio was booed, making this a true Ann Arbor show. The comedians also walked away enlightened about Michigan culture. Greg Proops learned the correct way to use his hands as a map of Michigan and about the delicious reputation of Zingerman’s. I couldn’t control the hearty and genuine laughter that escaped from my mouth, and getting to see Whose Live was definitely something I’ve always dreamed of and finally got to experience.