BWW Reviews: WHOSE LIVE ANYWAY quartet rings a bell in Columbus stop
After its visit to Columbus on Sept. 22, WHOSE LIVE ANYWAY should come with a warning label: "Husbands, wives, and significant others should not let their partners see Ryan Stiles, Jeff Davis, Greg Proops and Joel Murray alone." Just ask Travis, who allowed his girlfriend Nicole to attend the Riffe Center show without him.
When Nicole explained her boyfriend couldn't be here because she could only get one ticket, Stiles asked her if they had been dating long, she said "Twelve years" and the improvisational comedians exchanged knowing glances. Travis then became a punch line not only to Davis' serenade of Nicole but a running joke for the next hour and a half.
In the Jeopardy sketch, in which the troupe had to come up with questions for the audience-submitted answers, Proops imagined Travis as a stoner from FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. Asked if he thought about marrying Nicole, Proops guffawed "Yah riiiiight."
Travis wasn't the only target to get thumped by Stiles, Davis, Proops, and Murray. The quartet took pot shots at Trump, Indiana, 80s pop music and even Columbus. At the beginning of the show, Proops asked the audience for things one would commonly hear around the city. Someone shouted "C-bus," the comedian responded, "That's something to do with transportation?" He tried again, and someone shouted "O-H," a clearly flabbergasted Proops joked, "Excuse me for not knowing every eccentricity in Columbus. Let's try something simpler. What's your favorite book?" After someone responded WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S, Proops threw up his hands and said, "This is a big college town. You must know someone who read a book."
The firm of Stiles, Proops, Davis, and Murray were great at recreating bits from the show, WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY, which ran 1998-2007 on ABC and began a second run in 2013 on CW. The four dusted off crowd-satisfying spins on the show's regular features like, "Greatest Hits" and "Sound Effects" and "Freeze." But the four were at their best when they involved the audience.
The highlight of the evening was when they pulled a husband and wife from the audience and, after getting a little bit of background information from the couple, "recreated" their first date at a fraternity party at Ohio State. The spouses were armed with a squeeze horn to sound every time the four got something wrong and a bicycle bell to hit when the comedians nailed it.
A typical exchange went something like this: "The word is she hasn't been with many men." HONK. "Maybe she might like a little marijuana." DING, DING, DING.
During the skit and throughout most of the evening, the four hit the bell more than they got the horn. WHOSE LIVE ANYWAY? not only captured the magic of the original television but improved on it. Any fan who missed the Columbus stopover might really regret it. Especially you, Travis.