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Who’s ready for some Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The beloved improv comedy series, which originally ran on ABC and ABC Family from 1998-2007, makes its triumphant return to television — kicking off a 10-episode run on The CW and bringing back main players Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie. The Talk co-host Aisha Tyler takes over hosting duties from Drew Carey, now of CBS’ The Price Is Right.
Not much has changed since Whose Line went off the air nearly six years ago. Classic games like “Scenes From a Hat” and “Living Scenery” continue to be featured on the half-hour show. Perhaps the biggest difference — aside from Tyler as the leader of the pack — is who fills the fourth seat; a rotation of recurring performers, including Nyima Funk, Gary Anthony Williams and Heather Anne Campbell, will join Brady, Stiles and Mochrie in the frenzy.
In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Brady, also host of CBS’ Let’s Make a Deal, previews the return of Whose Line, discusses The CW’s re-entry into comedy and the possibility of more episodes in the future.
The Hollywood Reporter: Why was it time to bring back Whose Line Is It Anyway? after all these years?
Wayne Brady: You figure it’s one of those things where The CW jumped at the chance to get a property like Whose Line, which is still worldwide, and I say that without any hyperbole. It’s really worldwide. I’ve gone to New Zealand, South Africa, all over Europe, Australia, India all on the fact that Whose Line is a beloved show and is still playing in a lot of those places. I think especially now, with reality TV being rampant and not every sitcom that comes down the pike being the funniest thing in the world, now’s a good time to show some old-fashioned [comedy]. No bells and whistles. It’s just guys thinking fast, being clever and funny. It’s talent over bullshit. It’s not about anything else than “Can you be funny?” There is no transvestite jumping up on stage saying “You ain’t my baby’s daddy!”
THR: You’re back with Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie. What was it like reuniting with those guys?
Brady: It was great. We all just sat down and it was like no time had passed. We just jumped into doing the show.
THR: Will the show’s format be updated or will it be classic Whose Line?
Brady: There are no tweaks. It is what it is. It’s the three regulars and a guest improviser who pops in. Aisha Tyler is the new host, instead of Drew [Carey]. Aisha’s dynamic is incredible as well. Drew had his own thing and Drew’s one of my best buddies and he had a different take on being the host. He has this great everyguy energy and people feel they know him and they could sit down and have a beer with him. Aisha is Miss Incredibly Sexy Comic Chick, like an Amazon of comedy. The vibe is great with her.
THR: You mentioned that Drew had a different take on hosting the show. Can you elaborate on any differences between him and Aisha?
Brady: Really the only stylistic difference is their personas and them as people. That’s the biggest difference.
THR: Which special guests should we expect?
Brady: Key & Peele‘s Keegan-Michael Key. I was so happy to have him on as a rotating guest. He’s just brilliant, and my buddy Jonathan Mangum (he is the announcer for Let’s Make a Deal) is one of the recurrings. For the special guests, we have Glee’s Kevin McHale as someone we sang a song to. (Other featured guests include The Vampire Diaries’ Candice Accola, Hart of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel, Nikita’s Maggie Q and The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan.)
THR: Whose Line could be seen as The CW’s re-entry into comedy. What’s your take on the network’s push into that genre?
Brady: Obviously they are putting a big foot forward in taking an improvisational show, especially when they have an identity with The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural and that kind of younger-skewing angsty, sci-fi world. If this is a part of their linchpin in what they want to do, I think they made a great choice.
THR: What’s the likelihood of the show expanding pass the initial 10-episode order?
Brady: I think funny is funny. The show’s endured for a long time worldwide and its first run was quite a long run — almost 10 seasons. Who’s to say? Viewing habits have changed since the show was on. Maybe people will want to make this appointment viewing again. That’s the hope. The best thing we can do is to go out there and make some incredible improvisational TV and hope that all the fans of the older version and a lot of new fans will flock to it. If that happens, if people are ready for a change, then we’ll definitely be around past the initial order of 10.
THR: What’s a funny moment we should expect to see?
Brady: When we had Kevin on and I sang a gospel song to him, he got up and we started singing the gospel song together. It was definitely a great moment to see him outside the Glee landscape and to be able to do this and see him do his best James Brown/”Testify” dance.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? debuts July 16 at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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Robert De Niro