Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Hello! Once again, I wish I could be writing this blog post outside in the summer sun that currently Britain is actually having. But, alas, when I come to write, the temperature drops slightly and the wind picks up, meaning I am sat inside typing this out. As I type, I’ve got Wimbledon on and my knee is throbbing because I grazed it. It’s a seriously impressive graze, but I’m not going to disgust you with a picture. I don’t want this blog to be violated.

My knee, however is a tiny, tiny fraction of yesterday (Sunday 5th July). It was an INCREDIBLE day. I knew it was going to be; a day out in London with my Dad seeing a West End show and a TV show of which we had production guestlist tickets for, thanks to Katherine Ryan (@Kathbum) saying ‘I COULD OBVIOUSLY COME ON HER GUESTLIST’. I will write about Safeword and a review of that, but I shall wait until the episodes start on TV, as I do not want to spoil it. However, Katherine Ryan SMASHED IT as per usual, and ‘Geordie Shore has damaged the North-West like Thatcher’, but she isn’t the biggest see-you-next-Tuesday in reality. In fact, she’s so great, and the extra things she did for me created great memories of which I will remember for the rest of my life. Nonetheless, the first show I saw Whose Line Is It Anyway was everything I wanted it to be and more. Seeing performers that I used to idolise on TV doing their thing right in front of me created lots of magical moments, in which I’m going to talk about. I would say this blog post is a ‘review’ of the show, but that implies critique towards it. I have none. Whose Line Is It Anyway Live was simply flawless, and I’m surprised the company only did a two week run, as I’m sure they could have sold out a longer run!

Okay, so for those of you who when I say ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ say ‘it’s probably yours, have you read through the script…’ instead of ‘the best improvisation show ever’, here’s a little summary of the show. ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ (WLIIA) is an improvisational comedy show, which started in Britain, but gained even more popularity and fame across the pond. Each episode allows a panel of four performers to create characters, scenes and songs spontaneously, in the form of improve games. The show’s presenter (Clive Anderson) throws ‘points’ about willy-nilly, yet this is another way for the show to take a comedic punch towards a typical gameshow format. However, what makes this format considerably different from most comedy shows is that it relies on audience suggestions in order to come up with scenarios. Be it locations, characters or musical styles, the show is in the hands of the audience, and it’s up to the panel to work with their tools and just be funny, I guess.

Well, this was certainly the case. Having watched many re-runs of the TV show on Dave as a child with my dad, it was one of my favourite TV shows growing up. I’d find myself giggling at every little joke, and I guess that’s where some of my adult humour may come from. So, as soon as I was on Facebook one day and saw via What’s On Stage that WLIIA was coming to the West End, I immediately told Dad and said that as soon as the tickets come out, I am definitely purchasing a power. That time came around, and I purchased the tickets! I got back into watching snippets of episodes on Youtube, and could not stop laughing, especially at Colin Mochrie! I then found out the cast for the show, and could not believe my luck! The cast consisted of wonders of the improvised comedy world, and actors whom I look up to when it comes to learning how to be a successful improviser. The cast and musicians were as follows, and please follow them on Twitter:

Clive Anderson: No Twitter account.

Colin Mochrie: @colinmochrie

Josie Lawrence: @josielawrence1

Greg Proops: @gregproops

Brad Sherwood: @TheBradSherwood

Linda Taylor: @LindaRTaylor

Laura Hall: @LauraHallMusic

So the show finally came around, and as Dad and I took our seats in the stalls, we couldn’t help but notice just how ‘show like’ everything was. The set, the instruments, the seats; everything was so 90’s and I loved it. I especially loved Josie Lawrence’s tabard/waistcoat, which was so vintage and retro, it was as if the wardrobe department had barely changed from the original episodes. The minutes rolled closer to the show, I’d tagged myself in the Adelphi Theatre on Facebook, I’d taken a Snapchat selfie, my phone was now off and I was ready for the show to start. Linda and Laura walked on and played some improve music and then ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele. Their talent knows no bounds, and it makes me wish I’d have carried on my piano lessons from private school (always listen to your parents, children).

Then, Clive Anderson walked on, and it was that moment that I realised I was truly going to watch something special. His dry humour was great, discussing the extensive political and social similarities between the 1980’s, when the programme first aired with today’s society. This was an amuse-bouche for the show; something to whet our appetites. Clive then introduced the whole panel, and we were ready to start. Clive then commenced with the first game. The whole show saw at least 20 games performed, however I’m going to discuss a few of my favourites.

The first game was called ‘Questions Only’ or something like that, where the panellists had to create an improvised conversation only using questions, and this was done with ease. However, it was easy to throw the others off if the conversations got sexual, and this was done a few times. The sexual jokes were never too crass, which was pleasant, allowing the whole show to remain light-hearted. Greg Proops was stellar at this, lasting considerably longer than the other participants. But where Greg and Colin were masters of the acting improv, Josie and Brad showed just how easy it is to create an improvised song, demonstrating their talents that made them worthy to be a participant on WLIIA. Josie’s song about a hammer and a plunger, while Brad singing about a cinema worker called Dani off the cuff was a great thing to hear.

Other games that were my favourite included ‘Irish Drinking Song’ which ended the first half, a singing improvisation game with the ditty ‘i-de-i-de-i’ performed with a wonderful third-above harmony by Josie. Another game, ‘Freeze Tag’ brought up two audience volunteers, with them taking whole control of Colin and Brad’s body while they created a scene before our eyes, and could only move when a part of them was tapped. This was just hilarious, and the way in which Colin and Brad were able to make witty comments based on the positions in which they had been moulded into was simply brilliant.

Act Two saw some of my favourite games being performed, one being Party Quirks in which Greg acted as a party host, and the others had a quirk in which Greg had to guess. Josie had the quirk of ‘pretending a body part is a pet’, Brad an ‘aggressive beauty therapist’ and Colin ‘characters of Sesame Street desperate to get laid’. Havoc definitely ensued on stage, but it was wonderful havoc. Phallic jokes were all the rage here, and Colin had a great run on him. I absolutely love Colin, he’s one of my favourite Canadians (with Buble and Katherine Ryan also in the list). Another game, where the participants had to speak sentences beginning with sequential letters of the alphabet saw Colin have not such a great run, where he actually forgot the alphabet order. Oh. No. Colin.

Brad Sherwood’s time to shine came along with Sit, Stand, Bend. Simple to understand, a conversation happens but one person has to sit, one has to stand and one has to bend. This happened in the scenario of a chicken ‘factory’. Note: the term factory was shouted out by the audience, but this was not my favourite suggestion; a ‘Charity Appeal’ style definitely won this accolade in my mind. Sit, Stand, Bend was once again great madness, and the panicked look on all the participant’s faces showed how daunting an improvisational situation can be, but the audience were all responding well to the craziness on stage.

‘Greatest Hits’ attempted to calm down the craziness, by selling us a fictitious album based on mining, emphasising the talents of Josie and Brad. Josie, can I have your vibrato please? Thanks. The Gilbert and Sullivan number was awesome, but I do wish there was a ‘Tune for Tots’ song discussing mining. Or even a reference to Thatcher. Ooh politics. ‘Hoedown’ finished the show, and acted as an encore for the show. ‘Hoedown’ discussed the vice of ‘alcohol’, but has the show sang about ‘ho’s’ in a hoedown… I try to be witty, I try. I’m sorry. The last line of the show was ‘off the balcony’, insinuating someone throwing themselves into something and I think this provides a summative analogy for the show. The audience, audience members that got on stage, cast and musicians all threw themselves into improvisational games that could always go wrong, but just went so, so right. It could go off the balcony, and into the unknown air and get a poor response, but this blogpost just shows how superb WLIIA was.

Now, to think of a song to accompany this blog post. I’ve chosen the song that Linda and Laura played to bring in Act 2. They played a Beatles classic, and the whole day really did ‘Come Together’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axb2sHpGwHQ

Enjoy,

Sophie x

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