Whose Line is it Anyway? (1988 – 1999)
In the wrong hands, improvised comedy has great potential to fall flat on its face, but almost every episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? was extremely funny. Audience participation was a pivotal part of each show, as the rotating panel of performers took the most absurd suggestions from the people in attendance and turned them into comedy gold.
The original British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? (I never watched the US version) played late on a Friday night when I was a teenager and into my twenties, although – risque commentary aside – the humour was generally quite family friendly.
The show was hosted by Clive Anderson (who can be relatively funny in his own right) and introduced me to a variety of comedians that I had never heard of before – Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Josie Lawrence, Ryan Stiles, et al. There were many more, but they are probably the four I would consider as the core group of players. It speaks volumes that I remember their names to this day, despite not having watched an episode of the show for many years.
Each of the comedians had their strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes it was those weaknesses that provided the funniest moments, such as Colin fainting at the end of almost every hoedown, or Ryan Stiles’ inability to keep the smile from his face when trying to play if straight.