Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor
What’s it going to be tonight, folks? A couple of comics riding on top of a guest star, pretending to be a toboggan? Or Wayne Brady making up random lyrics to a song, belting it out like a gospel performer? You don’t know what you’re in for with the CW’s reincarnated “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on Tuesday nights this summer.
Hosted by natural beauty and fun-loving Aisha Tyler, fans of the original “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” will find comfort in familiar faces and improv games. Returning as cast regulars are Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, and Colin Mochrie – three talented, off-the-top-of-their-heads performers. Each week, a rotating fourth improv member and a special guest star join the cast on stage.
In the three episodes I previewed, Wayne Brady showcases his skills as a gifted comedian, singer, and dancer. Also the host of the CBS daytime game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” Brady walks into each scene with ease and confidence. He’s as funny as improv veteran Ryan Stiles, who has ten more years of experience.
Some of the funniest skit formats are highlighted in multiple episodes, such as Scenes from a Hat. In Scenes from a Hat, the audience writes down ideas for the performers and Aisha pulls them out of a pink hat, reading them aloud. One suggestion is Bad things to say when you’re running for office. Stiles jumps in with, “I don’t really care about that 47%.” Another is Lines you wouldn’t hear in a weight loss commercial. Guest star Heather Anne Campbell’s response? “There’s no hope for you.”
Improv’s Detroit Connection
The best parts of “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” aside from never knowing what a comedian might say or do, are the visiting fourth improv players. The premiere features Gary Anthony Williams. In a skit called Let’s Make a Date, Williams is on a dating show, trying to establish the suitability of potential dates. He says, “On the streets, I’m known for my love of gravy. What are you known for your love of?”
Keegan-Michael Key was another featured player who stood out on his episode. Born in Southfield, MI, he trained at Second City Theatre in Chicago, appearing on “MADtv” and “Reno 911!” He attended Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak, later graduating from the University of Michigan. He’s co-founder of Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck. In one of his skits, pretending to be a guest on Jerry Springer, he knocks over a chair and slaps Brady.
Two special guests included “Vampire Diaries” star Candice Accola and “Glee’s” Kevin McHale. While these performers are more actors than comedians, they add variety to the show and seem to be having a great time. To a guitar and piano accompaniment, Brady improvises Latin pop lyrics for Candice during the skit Song Style. He sings, “I’m not normally in your target demo, Vampire.”
The good thing is that everyone is in the target demo for “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Each show has nuggets of humor and lots of fun for the players. See what you think. Watch “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Tuesday nights at 8:00pm and 8:30pm on CW50.
>> More Motor City Musing With Vicki Briganti