Greg Proops

This bespectacled upstart from Whose Line Is It Anyway? is an improv king with a fine line in sass-talking.

Greg Proops

When Whose Line Is It Anyway? hit our TV screens in 1988 it ushered in a whole new comedy genre - improv. The show also introduced the UK to four impressive American/Canadian comics - Mike McShane (the big fella), Ryan Stiles (half-man half-chicken) Colin Mochrie (made of rubber?) and, most notably, the Buddy Holly-with-attitude best known as Greg Proops.

This bespectacled upstart had some lip on him and didn't seem afraid to rip the mick out of us Brits and our refined English sensibilities. But - hey - he was kinda cute, so we sort of adopted him.

Gregory Everett Proops was born in 1959 in Phoenix, Arizona. With glasses already on, we imagine. He grew up in California and then studied acting at San Francisco State University whilst also dabbling in improv. After graduation, he joined improv group Faultline with Mike McShane and the pair came to the attention of the Whose Line? producers.

Never short of a brash wisecrack on anything from pop culture to politics, Greg proved a real hit on the show, becoming a regular both in the UK and US versions.

Although best known for Whose Line?, Greg's popped up in numerous other TV and radio shows. One of his strongest suits is picking apart those little differences between us Brits and our bigger, brasher, American cousins, with their pearly-white gnashers and positive outlook. Whether discussing the linguistic disparities, or just winding up poor old Clive Anderson, Greg is a master of details, and the belly-laugh.

He also happens to be one of the most intelligent and articulate stand-ups you're ever likely to see, especially when he abandons the script and goes "off piste" which, by his own admission, is his greatest strength – well that'll be all those years of pressure-cooker improv coming out in him. He's not left the panel show behind either, cropping up gloriously on our very own Mock The Week, as well as taking a seat on the 90s cult hit Space Cadets and a rebooted version of US classic To Tell The Truth.

It's not just sarcasm and panel show appearances that Greg fills his days with, though. He's also a bona fide acting star, well actor at least, with his CV including the seminal likes of the animated Pamela Anderson vehicle Stripperella (criminally passed over by the Emmys), The Nightmare Before Christmas and, coolest of all, providing the voice of the Pod Race announcer in the first of the new Star Wars movies. Ok, cool as long as no one mentions Jar Jar Binks or the phrase 'defecating on a once glorious legacy', at least.

He's not confined himself to screens, either, our Greg. He's also taken to the airwaves like a be-quiffed Dave Lee Travis of mirth, cracking wise on his own The Smartest Man In The World podcast (well, we did say that Americans have a positive outlook) as well as popping up on the comedy musical masterclass that was Flight Of The Conchords.

Anything else? Oh yes, the question of Greg's ocelot ownership, a story started when he claimed to have one in an interview. Does he really possess his very own dwarf leopard? Sadly no – Greg recently admitted that it was a gag, saying "People will really believe anything. You may have noticed this. It’s not just me. Look around." What a shame, but if anyone could make us believe they owned an exotic animal it's Greg. Hell, we bet he has a great mime for taking an ocelot for a walk...

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