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Mark's Guide to Whose Line is it Anyway?


Trivia

Recent Series / WL Online / Conventions / Radio / Titles
Games / Regulars / Scoring & Winning / Tapings/Compilations
Speed / Rehearsals / Down Under / Clothes / Party Quirks
Language / Arguments / Host's Comments / Violence
Physical Attributes / Sex / Favourite Topics

Recent series

  • Colin, Ryan and Wayne are now regulars on the show with improvised music performed by Laura Hall and Linda Taylor. Regular fourth-seaters include Chip Esten, Brad Sherwood, Greg Proops, Kathy Greenwood and Jeff Davis, plus occasional guests including Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. Extra celebrity guests have also joined in for individual games. The musicians are now often accompanied by extra bandmembers including Cece Worral-Rubin, Anna Wanselius, Candy Girard, and Anne King.
    Drew has commented that while The Drew Carey Show is starting to run out of ideas, "I'd like to do Whose Line for the rest of my life".
  • WL has passed one-hundred episodes in just 3 years - the 40-episode seasons it now receives have not been commonly seen since the days of "I Love Lucy". The reasons for this are WL's good ratings performance and the minimal cost to make it (as well as the ability to create several episodes from each single taping session). These factors have landed it in tough timeslots against opposition including Friends and Survivor - naturally these have pulled down ratings, but WL has continued to perform, and with the cost ABC can afford to put it up against the big guys without concern.
  • The show is currently considered 'on hiatus'. New episodes have not been recorded in some time, as ABC are still squeezing every last episode from the previous run of tapings. Many were recorded at that time as networks faced the threat of writers' and actors' strikes, and WL was seen as promising material as a filler if problems occurred. This resulted in the commissioning of 66 new episodes and extra repeat rights for episodes up to the end of series 4, increasing the normal 2 repeats up to 10.
  • The summer pilot run of WL in the US premiered on August 5th with an 8.7 rating (11.7 million viewers), equal with the Drew Carey Show. This made it 11th most-watched show for the week, hottest premiere since 1995, and best viewer retention (100% from the Drew Carey Show) since 1996. The second episode easily defeated the premiere of cartoon 'Stressed Eric' (7.3 rating/13 share compared to 5.1/9). The remainder of the pilot run stayed similarly in the top 20, regularly beating summer Drew Carey repeats.
  • With these results, new episodes of the show were quickly comissioned and it returned as a mid-season replacement for "The Secret Lives of Men". These fall episodes enjoyed similar success, rating just behind new episodes of the Drew Carey Show. It ranged between 1st and 3rd in its timeslot, facing tough competition which included hit movie premieres, 60 Minutes II (which it soon overtook), and major events like the Grammys.
  • The US series came about because producer Dan Patterson had been trying to pitch the series to the US, and Ryan Stiles had suggested to Drew Carey that they try bringing it over (having regularly performed improv in clubs together). Originally Dan had been having trouble with the first attempt called off because the new production company wanted to change the show too much. With Drew and Ryan as executive producers, and Drew as host, ABC tried the show out for a 6-episode run during the summer. The original cast of this version included Ryan & Colin as regulars, common guest performers like Greg, Brad, Wayne and Denny, and a few guest stars from the Drew Carey Show (Kathy Kinney, Ian Gomez). It apparently took them some work to convince that Colin would appeal to a US audience!
  • The 1998 UK series was taped in Los Angeles to celebrate its 10th anniversary, partly due to convenience with tapings dates of the US pilot. Clive Anderson hosted, with Laura Hall providing music (Richard Vranch was not asked to attend). Wayne Brady did his first taping for this series, his performance here was perhaps what led to his several appearances on the early US episodes (which aired first).
  • Many of the Whosers trek over to LA for the tapings, and many have written reports of their experiences (including things like cut-out games, meeting the contestants, backstage goings-on, etc). Check out http://www.whosers.com/ for links to various reports.
  • The 1997 UK series was a regular series, although it featured a number of 'extra' episodes not screened until some time after the regular series had finished. These were 'normal' episodes made out of the same tapings, evident by a number of repeated introductions from Clive, the contestants wearing the same clothes, and the occasional repeated game (e.g. the two 'Space Hoedowns', each different except for George Wendt's verse).
  • US vs UK: The differences between the two versions are fairly noticeable - the hosts have somewhat different styles, Clive being a more reserved host with witty banter to the contestants or audience, Drew a little more 'in your face' and enjoying himself as much as the crowd. Drew's name was a big factor in getting a US network to take on the show; they of course wanted him to feature, leading to the "Drew Game" at the end of the show. The US version was a touch formulaic to begin with, but has brought in more pop-culture based games (Millionaire, Survivor, musical styles) and has particularly capitalised on the musical talents of some contestants. Extended games of Greatest Hits let Wayne and others show their singing abilities while Ryan & Colin get zanier every week in their introductions; African Chant, Motown Group and some Song Styles games have brought the lesser-singers up to sing or dance; and Three Headed Broadway Star and Irish Drinking Song add new challenges to musical performance. The other noticeable thing in the US version has been the added impact of network censors, deciding what may or may not go to air, and bleeping numerous inoffensive words usually because of a 'naughty' double-entendre context, including "hand", "cat", "Mrs Claus", "pussy", "mother" and "Senator Dole".

Whose Line Online

  • There are many sites about both the show and its contestants which may be found - those listed in the links section, the cast page and the webring cover many of them, and more are appearing all the time.
  • To meet other fans online, I would suggest checking out the messageboard to get an idea of what we're like, and then join in the regular chats on IRC. The server is irc.axpi.net and the channel is #wliia.
    The best time to chat is 10 PM EST US (early morning UK, early afternoon Australia). For newbies, you can get mIRC from www.mirc.co.uk for free, then join the server irc.axpi.net (or 'AXpi Random Server') from the list, then type "/join #wliia" - we can teach you from there!
    Other chats are held by various groups, including the own page. Jim Meskimen runs the Really Spontaneous Theatre Company. At the Comedy Store Players site the Players sometimes post on the message board. Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, Josie Lawrence, Jim Meskimen, Jim Sweeney and Richard Vranch used to occasionally post on the fan messageboard. Colin and Richard Vranch have signed my guestbook. I'd love to hear from contestants reading these pages, please sign the guestbook! And for fans, as always, be careful with people online claiming to be a contestant - not often an issue for the WL performers, but you can't always be sure. And be courteous if you are trying to contact a performer!
  • Many of the contestants also have various pages devoted to them - see links from the cast page, and also the 'other links' on the links page for pages on their other productions. Cast with 'official' fan-created pages include Greg, Colin, Wayne, Brad and Ryan. Greg didn't know about the many sites devoted to him and the show until some fans met him about creating an official page!

Conventions

  • The first convention was held on March 6-9 1998 in Toronto. Colin Mochrie was the special guest. Events included playing of Whose Line games, watching of WLiiA-related videos, sightseeing in Toronto, VIP lounge at the Reverb, and other activities. The highlight was a visit to the Tim Simms Playhouse, Second City on the Saturday night, to see Colin and Paul O'Sullivan perform in a show. This was followed by drinks with Colin (and much autographing and photos!). Again, see the Whoser page for info.
  • The second convention, held at the Ryerson International Convention Centre in Toronto, from June 25-27 1999, also had a late-announced guest appearance from Colin. See the Whoser page for further details.
  • The third convention in 2000 returned to the Ryerson and was a great opportunity for the fans to get together; with the usual reenactments of classic moments, playing of improvisational games, and a live internet Q&A with Greg Proops, the weekend was great fun.
  • WhoserCon 4 and 5 were held in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
  • For informations on past and future cons, see the Whoser page. For pictures, check out Mochrie's site.
  • For info on upcoming WhoserCons, check out the WhoserCon Page, Whoser Events Calendar.

Whose Line - The Radio Show

  • This recorded one season in 1987-88 (broadcast 1988) before the show moved to TV. Clive hosted and Dan Patterson produced. Steven Fry and John Sessions were the team captains, with people such as Lenny Henry, Dawn French and Griff Rhys Jones appearing as contestants. Two episodes are available online in streaming Realaudio at comedyradio.net. Some information on this and other successful BBC radio comedy shows can be found at Radio 4. The series has been recently broadcast by BBC7.

Opening Titles

All UK series have used the same music. The US music was intended to be a more "Blues Brothers"-style version of the theme. It was changed after the pilot series.
  • The first series titles feature a large box in the middle of the screen with the logo in it, and 2 smaller ones - one in the top left with an image of Clive, one in the bottom right with an image of John Sessions. The Clive clip played, then John, then another of Clive, then John. The middle box then shows 3 clips from the episode, usually featuring each contestant, concluding with a group shot with the logo overlayed.
  • Series 2 - 5 feature a quick series of shots of people with blacked-out skin acting out various roles - tap dancer, Hamlet, a banana duel, various occupations, rappers, gangsters, musician etc. They then conclude with the block letter logo coming up, an underline on LINE and the question mark appearing on the last beat.
  • The American episodes from series 3 and 4 use the same titles but replace the black & white background of the logo with an American flag.
  • Series 6 - 10 feature an animated scene of a horizontal white line on a red background, which distorts to form a line-character who starts acting out a scene. As he does so he splits to form a second character who starts a new scene, and they split to 3, then four. At the end of the music the four characters move off and the last one grabs the line, whips it and it twists into the squiggly-text logo.
  • The Hollywood-taped 10th UK series used the same animation but with a neon-pink line over a starry night background. As the logo forms the background pans down to show the Hollywood sign in white over a silhouette of the Hills.
  • The US version does not have opening credits as such, but the music plays as a brief animation of four purple characters acting in the 'O' zooms out to the blocky-fonted (Avenida) logo, and Drew introduces the contestants from up in the audience. The music continues until Drew walks down and takes his seat.

Games

  • Early series start with Authors (all 4 contestants) then Film & Theatre Styles (in pairs). They then have a round of "different games" with two pairs of contestants each playing a different game, and usually end with a game for all 4 players (e.g. Party Quirks or a song). The contestants usually appear in an equal number of games.
  • Later UK series often (but not always) start with "Film and Theatre Styles", "Scenes from a Hat", "Superheroes" or "Questions Only", and often finish with a Hoedown or sometimes Bartender, Prison Visitor or Psychiatrist. Contestants don't always appear in the same number of games.
  • The US episodes don't necessarily have a set format, but games like "Let's Make A Date", "Weird Newscasters", and "Greatest Hits" are played in a majority of episodes. They also regularly conclude with a Hoedown or Irish Drinking Song. The usual format (depending on the contestants) is to include at least two different songs - from the 'basic' song games (Song Styles, African Chant), the 'hosted' song games (Greatest Hits, Telethon), and a 'group' song game (Hoedown, Irish Drinking Song, Three-Headed Broadway Star), the later often used as the Drew game.
  • Some of the games in the later series seem to have evolved from earlier games. The game of Hats (later Dating Service Videos) seems to have come from World's Worst, and Narrate (once called Film Noire) probably came from the style's use in Film & Theatre Styles or Scene to Music. Remote Control may have been an updated Authors, Foreign Film Dub from Expert Translation, Greatest Hits from Musical Producers, and the original Rap has developed through Gospel, March, Hoedown and Irish Drinking Song.
  • The American version has also adapted a few of the games slightly - "Film and Theatre Styles" becomes "Film, Theater and TV Styles", and "Alphabet" introduces a time limit to become "90 Second Alphabet". More details are on the games page.
  • The show has progressed musically through the original Rap (to a taped drumbeat), March, Gospel, Hoedown and Irish Drinking Song. Hoedown was settled on for a long time (and continues today) - perhaps because it is a style that the less-musical contestants can still perform and crack jokes in. IDS has provided a more difficult variation on the group singing format. Recently games like African Chant and Motown Group, as well as some Song Styles games, have allowed all contestants to get involved, either by singing or by dancing in the background.

Regular contestants

  • John Sessions is in every early episode and his name appears with Clive's in the credits.
  • For many series Ryan has been in every episode, and Colin joined him as a regular for the last few UK series.
  • Mike and Sandi appeared in many during the middle series.
  • Josie, Tony and Greg appear in a lot of episodes, but not usually in a long run of consecutive episodes.
  • Wayne Brady is now a regular on the US series. The fourth slot mostly rotates between Brad, Greg, Chip, Kathy, and Jeff.

Scoring & Winning

  • No systematic scoring system is used - Scores range from no points to millions of points (and other things) according to Clive's whims. In early series Clive usually engineers the points in order to get a particular winner. But soon the points had little relation to the winner on the day. The points increase in size as the series goes on - the first series stays between about 0 and 1000 points per game, with later series regularly reaching up to the millions.
  • Drew doesn't even bother to award points all that often... although he is famous for saying that "the points don't matter!". He's awarded points in advance, points to crowd members, money instead of points and other things. But the points have now mostly become a source of intro jokes for other things that "don't matter".
  • The "winners" in the UK series get to read the credits in a style of Clive's choosing. These range from "American gangster movie", or "two guys who need to go to the toilet", to "Colin snaps and says what he really thinks to Ryan".
  • In the US version, the 'winners' get to do improv with Drew, alathough they often actually get to sit at his desk while the losers play the Drew game. From the second series, Drew also chooses contestants to read the credits in a given style. The other contestants often help out in the background. The style is sometimes based on a particular highlight from that episode.

Tapings and Compilations

  • Filming on the show goes on much longer than the half hour, with many games being played several times, and the best games go into the episode.
    In the UK versions, some of the best unused games and bloopers have been shown in compilation episodes at the end of the series.
  • It is possible for a good taping session to provide material for more than one episode.
  • The most blatant example of these multiple tapings comes in the 1997 UK series. A number of 'bonus' episodes, not screened in the original run, were put on after the compilations. These came from the unused bits of certain tapings, but don't always look like extra episodes - the introductions from the original episode are often used, and on one or two occasions where games were played twice, these are included. The most confusing example is the two space hoedowns, with the bonus episode featuring a different verse from each contestant except for George Wendt!
  • On the US version it's become common practice to get more than one episode out of a taping session - ABC regularly squeezing out up to four! This is usually covered with different introductions, although can be spotted by the same contestant line-up and the clothes they wear. The games are often lumped together based on a particular running gag, such as "Captain Hair" or "Milk Duds". The results of these practices are debatable - it means the less sucessful games still get aired, and reduces the possibility of making topical references since the material is still used for episodes long after the tapings have concluded. Also it has meant that the contestants have not been required to perform recently, as the last set of tapings has provided a couple of series' worth of episodes.
  • In early series the between-games edits can be obvious but are harder to spot later on. Extra links or 'pickups' are recorded at the end of each taping (which the contestants are not usually happy doing!). These include the host recording introductions so that different games can be edited together, or positioned at the start or after commercial breaks. Contestants may be asked to redo verses of a song or parts of a scene if the original (or, more likely, part thereof) was too poor, too controversial, or would require too much censorship to go to air. These can also be used when there were technical problems with the original recording.
  • There have been some strange cases in both versions where two different hoedowns have been combined! The hoedowns were not recorded this way, but were edited together. This is covered in one episode by Clive introducing the hoedown with a choice of two topics; in at least one other it just appears that Colin decided to sing a completely different topic to everybody else.

Speed

  • The early seasons feel quite slow compared to the later ones, with games running on longer and Clive not being as quick on the buzzer (e.g. during World's Worst suggestions).

Rehearsals

  • They do actually rehearse the show beforehand (so the cameras know where to be positioned for the games), usually by playing the games with suggestions from previous shows (so it is still improvised - don't panic!).
    For Film Dub, they are shown four clips, one of which will be used in the show.

WLiiA Down Under?

  • An proposal for an Australian series of WLiiA was apparently given to the Channel 9 network but rejected as being too risky. Tim Ferguson (Doug Anthony All Stars, Don't Forget Your Toothbrush) was apparently suggested as host. Given the way the channel has treated the US version, it's probably unlikely that they'll be the source of anything new. Channel 10 has used 'improv show' auditions to trick Rove Live guests, and used some WL-style games (including Party Quirks) on Big Brother.

Clothes

  • Jokes about clothes are common. Ryan once wore a bright orange shirt and was dubbed by Mike the "Neon Love Chicken". When Steve Frost was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, an audience member suggested "Hawaii 5-0" for Film & Theatre styles. In a game of Film & Theatre Styles, Josie tells Ryan "I've bought a shirt. You need a new one.", and when the topic was "Two lumberjacks arguing", Clive commented on Ryan already wearing the right shirt. Colin also claimed to be impersonating a lime because of his green jacket in a game of Prison Visitor. During Props, Greg (as a bee) said "You're a big flower, aren't you?" to Steve, who was wearing a floral shirt. Josie (as a cow in Party Quirks) asked Greg if he was "Taking the mick" because he was wearing a cow-patterned vest. Tony is famous for his fashion sense... amongst which he includes a green velvet "Lionel Blair" jacket, a leather jacket, a "Doc Holliday" outfit, red and black plaid pants, and others... and yet Debi Durst still wins the 'worst outfit' award for wearing her baseball get-up on the show :) Ryan's flame shoes are very popular!

Party Quirks

  • Tony Slattery and Paul Merton often lose all their points if they fail to guess the party quirks. Tony once stated "I'm not playing anymore" when he realised that Rory Bremner was imitating him. Paul (and Tony) usually mention Twiglets. Tony hosts theme parties such as "Come as Clive Anderson". Ryan started one party singing "Ballroom Blitz" and another watching the exercise video "Get away from those hamsters", mentioned in the previous game of Expert - with Mike joining in for a bit once he arrived at the party. Tony once rang up "Clive Anderson's Ties" and told them to shut down. Greg holds themed parties including "come as Colin doing a dinosaur impression".

Language

  • Tony once, on failing to guess the quirks, shouted "Oh, f**k off!" to which Clive replied "Right, well, there you are. Hey, Tony, it's only a bit of fun. Don't take it seriously, it's only your living. Let's go on, having robbed Tony of any points he's ever had in this show for swearing on camera". This has been censored on some broadcasts of the episode but not others.
  • In the '97 UK "Giving Birth" hoedown, Greg screws up and announces "Oh... f**k my ass....". Though apparently "f**k my dead dog" was considered WAY too strong at a taping.(?)
  • Speaking of screw-ups, zapping back to the 3rd series "Bits that Went Wrong" (now sadly absent from compilations, though the 'Best Of' US episodes are getting back there!), amidst Josie's alphabet troubles and Mike's kissing obsession, Paul rambled on a bit too long before suddenly coming to "oh for f**ks sake, sorry, I got bored with that, can I start again?". Oh, and back in the 2nd series Mike's 'Royalty Rap' went off the rails in BTWR with "I think he got pressed to death with .... oh f**k that." And Paul again got bored with his regular Authors attempt... "A zebra from Windsor Safari Park makes an intersting point. He says that in the IRA coverage recently on the... oh f**k off!"
  • Jimmy Mulville's suggestion for World's Worst person to comfort somebody on their death bed was "F**k me, you look terrible!" which, surprisingly, went without comment.
  • In Questions Only, Colin also said "Oh, screw you" to Clive when he was buzzed out for using "Pardon".
  • Caroline once shouted out "Arse!" when she stuffed up in QO.
  • Paul may swear when Josie almost knocks the water jug over on him just before Song Styles in the Christmas episode - he at best calls her a 'daft cow' anyway...
  • And now for the inoffensive stuff that ABC for some reason thought might direct their viewers onto the complaints hotline. Be warned - the following may corrupt you - if you happen to be an insanely puritan whinger. Let's face it, if you even GET these jokes, it's your own dirty mind - not WLs fault! :)
  • Ryan's hoedown about his blind date ends with "she may be kinda bland, but she still beats the hell out of using my right [hand]!". The laughter was enough that they didn't bother to bleep it when all four of them repeated the last line moments later.
  • In a game of Narrate in a pizza place, Ryan is bleeped during a line which is believed to be "Like this pizza in the oven, I wanted him [in me]."
  • Josie was also censored for double-entendring in the US series - but bleeping a line about "the only restaurant where you can eat with your [pussy]" wasn't enough, they had to remove her mention of a 'dead cat' as well! But not Drew's correction, "you have to say it puss-AY!"
  • 'Senator Dole' was bleeped out at one point, presumably to save ABC from lawsuits. Then again, this one IS the kind of language that might make people want to turn their televisions off...
  • Colin cops a bleep at the end of his song title "yellow-bellied lily-livered ooooooh [mother]!" Maybe they were just too quick at preempting what might have been next... :)
  • Drew gets it in the Children hoedown when he complains about "when you never ever get [laid]"
  • A bleep in the Christmas hoedown actually makes things sound much worse when Ryan announces "Every Christmas Eve you'll find me [porking] [Mrs] [Clause]".

Arguments

  • Clive and Greg seem to enjoy teasing each other. Clive often asks Greg if they "have something in America", whilst Greg enjoys making jokes about Clive's receding hairline or lack of neck. For example, see the start of the example sports commentators script. Greg also gives some patronizing replies to Clive such as "I shan't quibble, Mr. Anderson. Pray, let us move on. Comedy awaits!" or "This is the nuttiest game that could ever be, Mr. Anderson". But Clive has some witty replies - "Can you please not give a 2 syllable word, it's confusing our American friend." These American jokes go way back towards the start of the series. When John Sessions and Betty Thomas were a wife and husband arguing over a map in Film and Theatre Styles, Clive asked "You do have maps in America, don't you?" to the boos of the audience.
  • Many of the contestants love firing insults at Clive, usually also about the baldness or neck, though these are usually during a game and can't lead to much discussion :). When Clive insulted Sandi's height ("or have you been on your knees all night?"), an argument resulted between Clive vs. Paul and Sandi, ending with Clive commenting "I'm not bald... I'm taller than my hair". Best quickfire insult probably goes to Paul, though, with a simple "Slaphead!". Colin is now the regular victim of all bald jokes on the show; although if Ryan gets a party quirk mentioning anything like finding stupid people, you can bet he'll head straight over to Drew.
  • Tony, Greg and Ryan are probably the masters of getting their hoedowns/songs/whatever to make a reference to Clive. Tony and Ryan usually end with it, Greg has been known to also, but he likes to turn a song into a whole Clive insult session with lines about how "his head glowed" (as well as the other features mentioned above). Ryan now seems to alternate most hoedowns between a Drew insult (the regular attacks prompting Drew to launch preemptive strikes on Ryan during his verse) and lines ending in 'penis' (maybe because he's discovered it's the only naughty word that gets past the censors?). Launching a bald joke at Colin can be an easy target in a hoedown, but also a big mistake; Colin is the master of hoedown revenge (for instance his "I still get way more sex than either Brad or Drew" in the baldness hoedown).

Host's Comments

  • Clive makes comments at the end of each game, such as "That game always a great success... there are exceptions, obviously!", and also when he scores, for example "That million points puts Greg into a shock third place", "The scores are all level. They're different scores, they're just lined up on the paper", "Excellent game. Pity this is a non-scoring round", or (around 1995) "I'm getting a bit behind in the scoring, but I've just finished series 1".
  • Drew's comments were initially confined to little more than "The Points Don't Matter". He's now started to find reasons for why they don't matter, or using this as an excuse to give away ridiculous numbers or variations of points (preemptive points, money instead of points), or to find similes for things that also don't matter ("... just like if N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys traded guys...").

Violence

(thanks to Matthew Rudd for this great analysis!)
  • Often violent confrontations are acted out in the show, and the level of violence depends on the comic possibilities of the scene. Nothing violent was expected when Greg, Colin and Ryan were in a log cabin during a game of Changing Emotions, until one of the props supplied by Clive - an axe - was slammed into Colin's chest and he proceeded to do "bleeding" actions for the rest of the scene. Jim Sweeney, looking particularly fearsome, managed to violently headbutt Paul Merton and Steve Steen in quick succession - "don't you start, Mary!" - during the Scene From A Hat entitled "Prison Nativity Play."
  • In Film & Theatre Styles, there are regular suggestions for styles which demand violence of some sort, such as Sam Peckinpah, in which corporate boss George McGrath spent the whole skit between buzzers shooting window cleaner Ryan, with not one word spoken by either of them. Kung-Fu, or some other similar martial arts medium is a regular suggestion by the audience, and has led to Colin slapping HIMSELF in the face by accident during a roof-fixing game, while Christopher Smith and Jim Meskimen - both classically trained actors as well as competent improvisers - acted out a disturbingly accurate kung-fu battle during a simple sketch about a boss sacking an employee.
  • Obviously these are just fictional bouts and no-one actually suffered any pain, but the show has seen occasions where competitors have been genuinely hurt by the over-enthusiastic actions of their co-performers. Josie bit Tony's finger very hard during a game of Helping Hands, despite the fact that unusally for Tony, he didn't seem to have done something to warrant such a violent reaction. He spent the next few seconds rubbing his finger in obvious pain though his role as the hands provider meant we could not see his face to check just how much pain he was actually in. He got his revenge, spending the rest of sketch openly rubbing Josie's breasts.
  • During a game of Film & Theatre Styles, Chip Esten managed to poke Ryan in the eye as they acted as Laurel and Hardy. You could hear the squelch as finger connected with eyeball and Ryan let out a small yelp of pain before Chip giggled guiltily, apologised and asked Ryan if he was all right as Clive buzzed in and paused to allow Ryan recovery time before giving them their next style.
  • Ryan suffered another bout of discomfort during another game of Helping Hands, not quite through violence but more through his own over-zealousness when as a hairdresser, his words prompted Colin as hands-provider to make him drink from a bottle of aftershave. Presumably Ryan thought it must be a drinkable liquid, particularly as he is known for his penchant to consume any semi-edible prop on the Helping Hands table (he has famously eaten snot-flavoured cereal, sour milk, cat food and brie over the years), but he was shocked afterwards as he said in his French accent, through a fixed, grimacing grin: "Oh - that'sa reala aftershave!" In fact, Ryan often seems to be a victim of some sorts during Helping Hands, having to partake in a fixed fight with Greg the small child when he played a children's entertainer called Bobo while also going visibly dizzy when he tried to spray some ReadyWhip cream into his mouth as a cakemaker, only to "get a bit of air! Wooah!"
  • Other physical contact with violent undercurrents have taken place between contestants during games, though not to the extent that any person has been hurt or made to feel discomfort. Mike slapped Ryan in Helping Hands when the two had to act out a duel, and Ryan (through Colin's hands) returned the favour, while Mike, playing a cannibal, also playfully bit Ryan the host's finger during a round of Party Quirks.
  • However, all this pales into insignificance when one merely threatened piece of violence is considered. People will always remember the "Weight Watchers Party" in Scenes From A Hat when Paul famously said to Josie: "No luck then?" What some people never heard was Josie, having grabbed Paul for revenge purposes, said to him under the laughter and applause, "I'm going to f***ing kill you!" It never happened - or at least, we never saw it happen...

Physical Attributes

(thanks again to Matthew Rudd for this section!)
  • Often the contestants will pick on a person's physical attributes as a source of laughter, providing the attribute in question isn't deemed controversial. These are most prevalent in Clive's intros - he has described Mike as "all-compassing", "a greyhound bus" and "an actor, singer and comedian rolled into one and a half". He has labelled Sandi "the compact economy joke mobile" and Ryan has been branded "a man mountain". Greg's glasses means he gets compared to anyone famous who also wears glasses, such as Chris Evans and Elvis Costello, even though he looks not even remotely like either.
  • Ryan's build has been picked on by Colin, who claimed in a game of Secret, when he was going to have a Ryanectomy, that "it took them two weeks to find the flamingo legs". Colin's lack of hair means he gets as good as he gives, with Ryan telling him, during Three Of A Kind when he, Colin and Greg were playing used car salesmen, "I see you can take the top off!" Josie also sang at Colin during an American Musical "if you're feeling very bald, come to Paris." And Steve, dancing with a large, handled hairy object in Props, said "I know darling, but over there is a man with no hair at all", Colin responded with "Oh Jeez, one of your eyebrows just fell off."
  • Ryan was also subjected to a sly dig about his height when Chip, playing the interviewer in News Report when the story under discussion was Snow White, claimed he had found an eighth dwarf called Gangly. Ryan played along, confirming his name as Gangly the Mutant Dwarf. Chip is also well-versed at ridiculing Clive, while he also issued a similar baldness jibe at Jim Meskimen during Bartender, "I'm glad you came here, I'm glad you called; I thought you might be upset because you're going bald."
  • Greg's spectacles have also occasionally been subject to ridicule - Ryan asked him in Questions Only if he had more than two eyes, while Niall issued a much broader reposte at Greg during Bartender when Greg claimed to have lost his virginity to Clive. Niall responded with the closing line "when you look like you, you've got to get it where you can."
  • Mike's obvious physical attribute has rarely been mentioned in a game, with only Josie daring to take the risk during a round of Tag, when she crawled through Mike's legs, grabbed the tail of his jacket and said: "Oh I hate camping!" As his attribute is of a more delicate nature, direct references to it are avoided but when an audience member shouted he had a problem with his diet as a suggestion for his song in Bartender, Mike shrugged it off with: "Wow, all these weight references, I've never heard them before. Get some original material."
  • Clive has occasionally praised contestants for their physical attributes if they are genuinely good looking without any obvious feature to their build. Chip has been "our visiting man megahunk", Brad was labelled "comedy five-card stud" and Julian was described as a man "whose face is so beautiful it could almost be painted." Josie thought she was on to a winner when Clive said she was "the sexiest comedian to come out of the Midlands" though the irony hit home when he added "since Jasper Carrott", a man not exactly renowned for his dashing heart-throb features!

Sex Jokes

  • Sex comes up surprisingly often in the show, and porno or its variations (Swedish Porn, Emmanuel, Russ Meyer, German Porn, ...) are amongst the most commonly suggested and used choices in Film and Theatre Styles (even Paul himself was calling out for it once). This is hardly surprising - go to any improv show and you'll find they often have great difficulty trying to get the audiences minds out of the gutter (at least for the original suggestion; once they start performing all bets are off!).
  • 69 points are often awarded to "suggestive" games, and when "Ejaculator Man" was suggested for Superheroes, Clive replied "Come again?". Not to mention the many jokes made when Greg was Impotence Boy ("I'm sorry, I thought I wasn't going to be able to come... but then you'd know all about that!").
  • Jokes have also been made during games of Picture, usually about the size (or lack of) of the body parts of the people in the picture ("It's the cold, really!...You can talk, you look like two aspirins on an ironing board!").
  • Tony in particular is famous for exploring these topics, even managing to get the line "He gives me an erection" into a rap about a Bank Manager. Mike followed this by complaining about Tony's morals... and then singing about a Sperm Bank!
  • In a game of News Report, Greg crossed over to the field by announcing "I think there's someone coming in my ear" which prompted Ryan to look worriedly at his lap.
  • One game of Party Quirks involved Mike thinking he was in a 19th Century whorehouse, although Ryan's action of coming to ride Tony's camel looked rather suspicious also.
  • In a Scenes from a Hat, for the scene was Olympic Sports We'd Like To See they came up with Humping the Tony (not to mention the Synchronised Humping the Tony which Mike suggested).
  • Greg bending over onto a chair to warm up before a game prompted Clive to ask what he was doing. He replied it was something special for "Sector R". He then suggested they didn't have time to go into it, to which Clive answered "always time for you in that position, Greg." Greg then proceeded to make some even more suggestive movements.
  • Even in the US version, double entendres do sometimes make it through, with one audience member being told all about Wayne's "big drill"... and various other censored mentions. Wayne cracked himself up when telling Doris about his "two big meat-balls". Actually, perhaps because of the censors, the US version sometimes becomes a question of seeing how many sex references can be made without being un-euphemistic enough to get cut out! Ryan seems to have discovered that the word "penis" doesn't get censored... to our peril, as this is quickly rising up the ranks to level his number of "Drew Carey" jokes in hoedowns.

Favourite Topics

  • Ryan Stiles usually manages to do a Hitler impression in games of Hands Through/Helping Hands, and has mentioned Nazis quite a few other times on the show ("He's a deep-sea Nazi captain, but he flies!")
  • He also often talks about an "ex-wife" in games ("40 days of rain, rain, rain! The front will be coming in right over my ex-wife's house, so the bitch should be getting pretty wet!") and is often chosen to play jilted lover / annoyed neighbour / angry business partner in games like Let's Make a Date.
  • He often pulls his socks up as he sits down.
  • Colin has done just about everything to get out of singing a proper hoedown/bartender/whatever. Past tricks have included fainting, having a heart attack, singing in German, walking out half-way through, stopping and smiling through the rest of the song, or shouting out "Instrumental!". He also often sings about the first audience suggestion rather than the one Clive chooses - for example in the puberty hoedown he sang about going grey, or in the vasectomy surgeon hoedown he sang about firefighters.
  • Ryan often calls his mates "Phil" or "Gary". Colin calls his mates or himself (and Ryan calls him) "Bob". (e.g. Home Shopping - RS: "It's time to shop, I'm Phil (Connors?)". CM: "And I'm ... Bob." / Questions Only: RS: Aren't you Phil Connors? CM: Aren't you Bob ... Billyboo?). Apparently the two of them were told to stop using Phil and Gary in case some Phils or Garys got offended!
  • Greg usually plays the host in the "News Report" and "Sportscast" games and generally starts the report with something like "I'm Bulge Temptingly" or "I'm Deliciously Huge".
  • Colin's been doing some great character work recently too. In Home Shopping, Ryan announced that he was "Gary" and so Colin became "Gary Too". And when Greg was "Horny As A Hippo", Colin was too... though his name Tim.