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Greg Proops: A Comedian on an Adventure

May 04, 2017 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould
Greg Proops, also self-proclaimed as “The Smartest Man in the World,” is most popularly known for his special appearances on ABC’s hit show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?

While he’s not performing for a live audience on stage, Proops performs for a much larger audience on his Proopcast, The Smartest Man in the World, where he’s recorded live in London, Australia, New Zealand, Montreal, Edinburg, Dublin, San Francisco, Oslo, Amsterdam, Austin, Paris, and Cleveland. Nothing is off limits for Proops.

With his wildly intelligent nature, Proops decided to take his award-seeking podcast and turn it into a book, The Smartest Book in the World.

“It covers a lot of the ground we cover on the podcast. I think the funnest chapters are the baseball teams, All Time Bombshells, Dictators, Roman Emperors, Women in History etc. and the chapter on how to steal art.” – Greg Proops

Did you know that Proops was the voice of Bob the Builder? In fact, Proops was one of the many voices that played the part of the problem-solving construction worker. His voice appeared in 51 episodes.

Catch Greg Proops along with Ryan Stiles, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray as part of their Whose Live Anyway tour Saturday, May 13th, 8 p.m. at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric. For 90-minutes, witness a completely improvised show that will not only make you laugh, but laugh so hard you’ll start to cry. Tickets range from $26–46.


When were you first introduced to comedy and was there a defining moment that made you realize comedy is something you wanted to pursue? How have you continued to develop your craft overtime?

Working in a bar in Palo Alto in the ’70s opening for a band. I realized I was being treated as an adult and that no one cared if you had a degree, you were judged on your merits as a comedian. That and the drink and drugs made it irresistible. I have branched out and become an improviser, stand-up, podcaster, and writer. Also, I am more comfortable with my voice and persona and that takes time.


What inspired your “Proopcast” and what sort of topics do you tend to talk about most and why? What has been one of your favorite podcasts to date?

My wife Jennifer urged me to pursue it after the first one. Feminism, politics, food, booze, music, poetry, movies, history, and baseball. Well, I love them all, but the ones from Shakespeare and Company in Paris are unforgettable to me because the setting is so romantic.

Despite having a full-time comedy career, you’ve managed to put together The Smartest Book in the World. Can you elaborate on what encouraged you to write a book and what people can expect from it?

I encouraged myself to write it. My agent at the time, David Tochterman, got me a meeting at Touchstone and I sold it in the room. It covers a lot of the ground we cover on the podcast. I think the funnest chapters are the baseball teams, All Time Bombshells, Dictators, Roman Emperors, Women in History, etcetera, and the chapter on how to steal art.

What would you say is the most challenging part of an improv comedy show? How do you come up with an idea and so quickly? Has there ever been a moment where you got stuck and didn’t know what to do? If so, how did you handle it?

Carrying my castmates because of how sexy I am. We have done this a long time and know each other very well.

No, what have you heard? Improvise. Failing funny is as important as winning.

Looking back on your successful career, what would you say has been the best/worst show you’ve ever performed? Do you have any fears when it comes to performing? Have any of them come true?

So many great shows. Melbourne Festival Gala 1997 was amazing with a great crowd. I did a benefit in Dublin twenty years ago where people were passing me spliffs on stage. Believe it or not, last year in Spokane I got a standing ovation. That was quite moving. All we want is to be loved.

Who has been your all-time favorite person to work with while appearing on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Has there been any real memorable moments while on the show?

Ryan is like Babe Ruth. He just points at the fence and hits home runs.

What are you looking forward to most during the Whose Live Anyway tour? What would you say is the key to having a successful show?
Drinking and sleeping. We charge on stage with mad energy.

Changing things up a bit, if you could only take three things with you on a deserted island, what would they be and why?
My wife, a pot tree, and my library.