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Past Episodes Talk: The Points Don't Matter

A place to discuss particular episodes, arcs and moments from the show's run. Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic -- check out the forum for character topics and other places for show-related talk.

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After watching Wendy McLendon-Covey's episode last week, and seeing how little Heather Anne Campbell had to do tonight, it just reinforced what I've noticed about the show.

 

If there a Secrets/Infomercial/Helping Hands, it is always Colin and Ryan.

If there is a Living Scenery, Colin and Ryan are a "straight" couple, for the most part.

If there's a What's In The Bag?, Ryan and Colin are the ones to get the purses.

 

Even if there are women 4th chairs, they tend to take a backseat to Colin/Ryan and sometimes Wayne.

 

This isn't to knock Colin and Ryan, who make me laugh until I cry sometimes. It's that the ladies they invite on, the fourth chairs, are getting a shorter shrift. There seems to also be a seeming lack of wanting to change stuff up.

 

For example: Why not Wayne or Ryan "in the field" for Newsflash?  Why couldn't Wayne have been Colin's Helping Hands from time to time? Why isn't anyone else who is also adept at improvisational comedy allowed to try What's in The Bag? or Hollywood Director? Why aren't the ladies allowed to Living Scenery  as the female half of a couple, especially as Colin and Ryan always seem to play their couples as male/female?  Nyima Funk has chemistry with all three regulars.  Heather Anne seems to get along with the guys as well, and she can play off Ryan well.

 

Then again, none of the ladies of the last two seasons have partaken of Hoedown or Irish Drinking Song or Three-Headed Song. Of course, only having two female fourth chairs for seasons 9 & 10 does limit their chances. (Nyima and Heather Anne for both seasons.)

 

Going back and watching all of the episodes, and taking notes, have showed me tons of comedy, but some patterns that I want to be sure about.  If tonight's episode was the last for Season 10, I can crunch the last of the numbers some and see what actually pops up. (One thing that surprised me: While there 7 total CW-specific guests on the show, sports figures and Other TV/Movie guests were more likely to be shown, 8 and 11 respectively over most of the two seasons.)

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I always chalked it up to playing to the comics strengths and comforts. Colin is clearly the best and most comfortable with the improv, which is why he anchors a lot of the routines. Wayne is the only singer, with the exception of some of the 4th chairs. (Jeff I think? And Chip? And Gary?) Colin & Ryan play well off each other, so they're frequently paired.

 

It seems to me they don't have enough for the 4th chair to do, regardless of whether it's a woman or man. Some are more comfortable or talented for different routines, particularly the singing, so we see more of them.

 

But I'm right there with you in that it would be nice to have a change of character once in awhile.

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But I'm right there with you in that it would be nice to have a change of character once in awhile.

I agree as well. The British version did a much better job of that, but they also only one or two regulars, so the other chairs by necessity had to be given more to do.

 

 

Why couldn't Wayne have been Colin's Helping Hands from time to time?

Part of it is height. The helper shouldn't be able to see over the helpee. Although, with someone of Ryan's height, they could have anyone else be his hands and it would work. What bothers me more about the game is that it now is always what disgusting combo can they make Ryan eat or drink. Again, going back to the British version, I can remember helping hands for a magician and his apprentice. 

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I wouldn't mind seeing them do more variations either.  But then I will watch any and all improv I can get my hands on.  For more general audiences though, the show wants to play to its strengths.  And that means putting Ryan and Colin together in scenes and positions they're used to.

 

And not everyone can slide into everything, even if they're generally talented.  Here's a scene from Improv-a-Ganza where Drew and Heather were introducing a Compilation Album set and were foundering a bit so Ryan jumped in to save them:

http://youtu.be/CqZgGV0Tb9Q?t=17m14s

Now they weren't terrible, but Ryan and Colin make that look so easy that when someone isn't as good it stands out.  And maybe that's not a risk they're willing to take at this time.

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(And I just found out Whose Line has a forum! This needs more commenters/feedback!! Luv it!)

 

So the one thing that's been bugging me between both versions of the US version of Whose Line: which fourth seater plays/sings well with Wayne Brady? I luv that Brad and Jeff are back and the inclusion of Gary Anthony and Jonathan (though I still miss Chip-er-Charles), but I just wondering if anyone prefers one fourth seater in terms of singing with Wayne*?

 

*BTW, I was wondering since I've been trying to ask the WL guys on Twitter about considering making a collaboration album, both in comedy and serious music. I've seen how the others play off well with each other back in Drew Carey's Improvaganza, so I can only pray if anyone shares those ideas too. I feel like they can reach the Billboard charts with their voices.

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It would be great to see Chip again on the show. As far as who I prefer singing with Wayne, I don't think I have a preference. I like Brad, Jeff, and Chip. They all are strong improv singers.

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I would love to see Chip back as well, but I'm guessing Nashville would have to be cancelled first.  I'd even bet he has something in his Nashville contract saying he can't sing on another show.

 

Which is a damn shame, because that means we can't get "Bartender" anymore, which Chip used to be the king at.

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Hi everybody,

I'm a big fan of WLIA, ever since the original UK series in the 90s. I've always been interested in improv comedy and tried out for our school's theatre spots groups back in the 80s. In fact this is my tentative link to Ryan Stiles who worked in New Zealand developing theatre sports. Little did I know back then he'd go on to entertain us for over three decades as part of the WLIA crew.

Any ways, introductions aside, I recently stumbled upon a duet skit involving "Neena and Veena" belly dancers. It was brilliant and had me in stitches for quite some time.

You can watch it here:

Does anyone know what music that is? Is it an original piece done by Laura Hall and the flute lady or is it a copy of work somebody else did?

Long may WLIA continue!

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Just a note, the third woman was shown with a clarinet, or an instrument from the clarinet family, not a flute.

 

As for the music, I guess it's a riff on Generic Bellydance Music the musicians have heard before; for other styles the music seems recognizable. I am not saying that Dr. Linda Hall is ripping folks off, but I think she's savvy enough to keep things generic unless she's been given the okay to use a song as a jumping off point.

 

Like the "I'm Invisible" heavy metal song for  Matt Barnes. It felt like it came from a song, but it could have just been generic riffs married seamlessly.  Whereas the "Colin Mochrie :The Musical", one segment earlier, had a part that totally sounded like "Memories" from Cats, to me anyway. 

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One of my all time favorite bits was Chip and Wayne singing "Satan and the School Girl" for one of the greatest hits compilations.  I still smile when I think of it.

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From  S11E8 "Heather Morris" thread:

 

I second the hate of Living Scenery.

 

Despite my opinion in that thread, I don't hate Living Scenery. I do feel that it is similar to Helping Hands in that it relies on the same people making the same, predictable jokes every. single. time. 

 

Make sure there is some vague reason for Colin and Ryan to lay down on someone, preferably, one of the pretty guest stars or the lady 4th Chairs. If it's a guy, then we can snicker at guys laying on top of one another. Cuz they're laying on one another. 

 

There is still lots of humor to be mined from a game like Living Scenery, but for whatever reason, it's gotten stuck only using Ryan and Colin as the two active players and Wayne and either the 4th or the guest as the props.  I can see not using audience members as part of a liability thing and/or a time issue ( supposedly, the taping is over a weekend, so amateurs costing time and tape is a reasonable issue.) I just am not sure why, with four professional improv comics available, there isn't more of a mixing up of who's props and who's active. As an example:  Brad even tours with Colin, so I don't know why he either sits out for the guest or has to be props in this iteration.

 

I feel like I can guess the beats with a Colin/Ryan as the characters Living Scenery. Tweak Wayne's nipples and/ or his penis, or both. Lay down on  or straddle the props. Talk about how something seems more buoyant than the other person's prop. 

 

I have enjoyed and belly-laughed a several Living Scenery-s, like when Wayne was a bidet at Colin. Using all the players only to their strengths at all times gets boring.  I'd like to see Wayne, for example, try a Newsflash, being in front of the green screen.  Ryan being the dubber or the Hollywood Director could be fun.  Maybe having Colin as Sports or Weather in Weird Newscasters could be hilarious.

 

I mean, what's the point in calling this an improv show if everyone has set roles that they never break out of?

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I completely agree with you. I wish they'd mix things up.

 

For a second I thought it might be fun having audience members in Living Scenery, but even aside from liability issues, I don't think the volunteers would know what to do or even stand still while C & R did their thing. I've always loved Moving People or SFX where the audience members make mistakes because C & R turn it into gold. But I don't think that would work with Living Scenery. 

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I miss Sound Effects, either with Ryan as  the effects guy or with audience members because there was gold either way. 

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As it was brought up in the S11E12 episode thread ( Randy Couture), I would like more using the audience and 4th chair, but I don't hate the special guests. I think limiting special guests would actually make them special.

 

Also, I looked at the Wikipedia page of Whose Line  games, both UK and US versions. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_from_Whose_Line_Is_It_Anyway%3F ) There are enough games that haven't been tried or aired in the US that the CW's version shouldn't be in a rut three seasons in. It's still an entertaining rut, but a rut, nonetheless. 

 

Examples from the linked list:

 

*Three Headed Broadway Star: the last time it was played was S9, the Wilson Bethel episode (6?). The song was "I Can't Live Without Your Rubber Duckie"; I remember because I have watched it a bunch and enjoyed the whole segment. I also enjoyed the whole episode, but still. It's not too difficult to dust off when there is a good 4th chair or a game guest.

 

* "Title Sequence: Two performers invent and sing the theme song for a sitcom which pairs two given or audience-suggested unlikely roommates. The other two performers act out the opening sequence as those two roommates. Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles always do the acting." 

Colin & Ryan can still do the acting, unless someone else like Brad or Greg is available to be silly with Colin.

 

* "Alphabet: Two performers enact a given scene in which each sentence must begin with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, beginning with an audience-suggested letter. The performers must go through the entire alphabet once. United Kingdom One Minute Alphabet: An early variant of the game where a 60 second time limit is added. Played only twice. 90-Second Alphabet: The American variant used two or three performers, and had a 90-second time-limit."

No props and can incorporate the 4th chair easily.

 

* " Multiple Personalities: A variation in which there are three props, and each is assigned a different famous identity. The performers must bear the identity associated with whatever prop(s) they are holding. Frequently, the props in question are given from one performer to another spontaneously, forcing the performer to do a new improvisation based on the prop he has just received. The game frequently ended with one performer having all three objects given to them, forcing them to try and act out the three personalities simultaneously."

 

* "Unlikely Couples/Couples: Two performers play a scene, as two people (fictional or real) that wouldn't normally be seen together. Periodically, the host sounds the buzzer and requests audience suggestions for a different pairing. Played only twice."

Like Scenes From a Hat, the audience can write down various famous people and Aisha pulls the slips out and assigns them to the group. She can buzz in and reassign as she feels. That way, the audience is incorporated and feels it has a stake, the whole group could participate and best of all no props, but the hat they already have. Fiscally minimal!

 

There are plenty of games that might need just the barest of tweaking to use here in the States, but they seem like solid enough games. It would keep us from watching 20 iterations of freaking Helping Hands!

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I loved Alphabet. Very similar to Questions, which I love. That's a quick thinking game that's hilarious when they mess up. Ryan is really good at Questions.

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I had a nagging suspicion about the season to date and I was, sadly, correct.

 

There have been no women 4th chairs this season and we are at the halfway mark.  We have only had three women guest stars this season, four if we are going to count Monday's episode with Gina Rodriguez.  

 

This is not a discounting or a critique of the men performers. It is a critique of the network and the above-the-line folks not making an effort to add more ladies. I just can't take as an excuse that any good improv performer that was female  was not able to come in for a couple of hours, on one Saturday or Sunday. Yes, I am aware that comics and improv folks have their bigger dates on the weekend, but I would think that exposure on even the CW could help get a few more butts in seats where they are performing.

 

The message they are sending, imo, is 'that there aren't any funny enough women, but here are the same handful of guys who've been doing this for thirty-odd years that you love. Love them some more.'  That's not fair to the men or to the audience. Of course we love these guys, but during Drew's run, there was a handful of women that showed up more than twice a season.  Unless we are to believe that the women don't bring ratings like the guys who are 1) known for this kind of comedy and/ or 2) hot comedy properties.  To that, I just have to ask, how can we love the women as much if we don't see them as often as the men?

 

Since it supposedly is taped over a weekend, it's not exactly a hardship, time-wise; a couple of hours, that will be broken up into two episodes. But Jeff Davis, who I personally find adorable, has been on the show 4 times this season, 5 if you count Monday's episode. That's out of 12/ 13 episodes of a 24 episode season.

(Gary, Brad and Keegan have been on twice, and Greg and Jonathan have been on once each.)

 

I know I must sound like a broken record, but it's 2015 and it feels like the show is telling us 'women aren't funny.'

 

added:

 My solution? have the special all-ep fourth chairs be Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, the Broad City gals and Lennon & Jessica from Playing House. If Keegan can squeeze a couple of hours in between K&P, Playing House, Bojack Horseman, beaucoup movies  and other TV shows, some of these ladies- if approached  in a timely manner- might be able to find an hour or so.

Edited by Actionmage.
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There have been no women 4th chairs this season and we are at the halfway mark. 

I noticed that as well. The 4th chair doesn't necessarily do that much anyway - they can sing with Wayne but don't have to. All they have to do is one character as the news co-anchor and take a brief turn in the Questions Only game. So even if their top 10 wish list for female performers was busy, 11-20 would do fine.

 

Reportedly Heather Anne Campbell is appearing in the 8/17 episode so there's one (and probably two given how they tape). But I think that leads me to the answer: they haven't added new players at all since 2013.  It's cowardice. They use the same people for the same reason they use the same games. There's only one spot to rotate and the men are more known than the women. (Which of course is self-fulfilling.)  After all, if you're going to bring in someone from Key & Peele, Keegan-Michael Key is a better get than Nyima Funk.  Nothing against her at all, it's just that when people are requested by name you'll find more Jeff comments than Heather ones.

 

(Plus I'm sure some suit is going "We've got Aisha, Laura, and Linda in every episode. That's plenty of representation.")

 

If I were running the CW, what I'd do is look to create another half hour (filling the block) that's exactly the same sort of improv, with or without the Whose Line name. I'd keep Colin, Ryan and Wayne in the existing show, and then "others" would rotate between the 4th chair here and all 4 spots in the after-show. (I'd also put all the guests in the after-show, if that must continue.)  This way you get a lot more seats to play with and can give Jeff/Greg/Gary/Brad the airtime their fans want while still having time for lesser-known performers of BOTH genders.

 

Of course that's just wishful thinking. But it can't be worse than "Significant Mother", can it?

Edited by Amarsir.
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If I were running the CW, what I'd do is look to create another half hour (filling the block) that's exactly the same sort of improv, with or without the Whose Line name. I'd keep Colin, Ryan and Wayne in the existing show, and then "others" would rotate between the 4th chair here and all 4 spots in the after-show. (I'd also put all the guests in the after-show, if that must continue.)  This way you get a lot more seats to play with and can give Jeff/Greg/Gary/Brad the airtime their fans want while still having time for lesser-known performers of BOTH genders.

 

 

So separate but equal shows? Gotcha.

 

Only without the Whose Line clout and, from what you seem to be saying, talent you have labeled "others" for the "after-show", because it isn't even a theoretical show in your theoretical network scheduler role. These men need to get more attention because they are so anonymous. This is their only TV outlet. And of course, the second show, the "after-show", is the one with not only women but more men in the mix, not counting the potential guests the CW/ poster-as-scheduler feels might still be needed.

 

Whereas, a person would think there are no current females who improv because they would surely be on this show- built specifically to showcase improv - if your only window to that scene was the CW. (Some folks don't want to buy expensive drinks or food, so don't do the comedy club thing. Others only know of women who started in improv and went on to do more, or do more on cable. Not everyone pays for cable.)

 

The reason the 4th chairs don't really do anything in the CW run is because every episode has a guest. Yes, lots of folks hate the guests. It's not whether the older regulars get enough time ( because none of the regular Drew-era women have made appearances on the CW version), but why isn't there new hotness, to borrow from Men in Black. No one is saying to do away with the guys the audience already loves. That's stupid. I just don't see where adding more than two women to the rotation is something that challenges the long-time favorites' time.  Why you would need to make another improv half-hour? Why not expand to an hour and either let the games run a little longer or play more games? Both have been requested by posters here for awhile.  Or spend the cash for  two weekends and up the episode count?

 

If getting in, say, Garfunkel & Oates* to sub for Colin and Ryan for an episode is too scary for the CW, then that reflects on them. The regulars are workhorses and much loved, but having an extra hour or so of sleep during a grueling weekend of taping might be welcomed.

 

*suggested by DH, who wishes that Colin and Ryan would separately or in tandem take a break now and again, and he's a fan of both men.

edited for spacing

Edited by Actionmage.
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On July 23, 2015 at 1:19 PM, Actionmage said:

Also, I looked at the Wikipedia page of Whose Line  games, both UK and US versions. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_from_Whose_Line_Is_It_Anyway%3F ) There are enough games that haven't been tried or aired in the US that the CW's version shouldn't be in a rut three seasons in. It's still an entertaining rut, but a rut, nonetheless. 

 

Examples from the linked list:

 

*Three Headed Broadway Star: the last time it was played was S9, the Wilson Bethel episode (6?). The song was "I Can't Live Without Your Rubber Duckie"; I remember because I have watched it a bunch and enjoyed the whole segment. I also enjoyed the whole episode, but still. It's not too difficult to dust off when there is a good 4th chair or a game guest.

 

* "Title Sequence: Two performers invent and sing the theme song for a sitcom which pairs two given or audience-suggested unlikely roommates. The other two performers act out the opening sequence as those two roommates. Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles always do the acting." 

Colin & Ryan can still do the acting, unless someone else like Brad or Greg is available to be silly with Colin.

 

* "Alphabet: Two performers enact a given scene in which each sentence must begin with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, beginning with an audience-suggested letter. The performers must go through the entire alphabet once. United Kingdom One Minute Alphabet: An early variant of the game where a 60 second time limit is added. Played only twice. 90-Second Alphabet: The American variant used two or three performers, and had a 90-second time-limit."

No props and can incorporate the 4th chair easily.

 

* " Multiple Personalities: A variation in which there are three props, and each is assigned a different famous identity. The performers must bear the identity associated with whatever prop(s) they are holding. Frequently, the props in question are given from one performer to another spontaneously, forcing the performer to do a new improvisation based on the prop he has just received. The game frequently ended with one performer having all three objects given to them, forcing them to try and act out the three personalities simultaneously."

 

* "Unlikely Couples/Couples: Two performers play a scene, as two people (fictional or real) that wouldn't normally be seen together. Periodically, the host sounds the buzzer and requests audience suggestions for a different pairing. Played only twice."

I love all of these games. I wish they would play them again. The current U.S version repeats games too often. They could even work the guest star into some of these games. The Broadway song could be about the guest star. Also, while two of the main cast are singing the fake theme song, the guest star could be one of the people acting it out. 

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All the games listed above sound like fun and incorporates the real spirit of improv, that is, the players work off each other and create a scene neither controls, it just happens. Too many of the games on the CW version are just individual players riffing on a theme without any interaction with anyone else. The ones that do, like Helping Hands and Living Scenery, puts the often clueless guest in the scenario, and relies too much on set pieces. (Ryan eating something disgusting, the guest in sexually compromising positions). I would love to see the regulars and the fourth chair turned loose and just play off each other for a while.

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I've been watching older seasons on the UP Channel (which I just found) and have been enjoying a lot of the variety of games that they have.  I had forgotten about many of them, but really enjoy seeing the different ones.  Just last night I saw 'what's in the purse' in which they get purses from audience members and have to incorporate the contents into the scene.  There were other oldies but goodies, but for some reason I'm drawing a blank (which is why I love this show-the performers never draw mental blanks).

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13 hours ago, seacliffsal said:

I've been watching older seasons on the UP Channel (which I just found) and have been enjoying a lot of the variety of games that they have.  I had forgotten about many of them, but really enjoy seeing the different ones.  Just last night I saw 'what's in the purse' in which they get purses from audience members and have to incorporate the contents into the scene.  There were other oldies but goodies, but for some reason I'm drawing a blank (which is why I love this show-the performers never draw mental blanks).

I agree. Two-line dialog. Alphabet. Unusual Superheros. Just to name a few. As for "what's in the purse," they've got the similar "last texts on the cell phone" game.

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Drew Carey's one mission in life seemed to have been pulling the most reluctant women out of the audience to do "Sound Effects." He would then scream with laughter when they failed, every single dang time, to provide proper sound effects for Ryan and Colin.

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