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Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Updated on March 14, 2011

There were several years after the death of my son and the divorce from my first husband, that my daughter and I lived alone. She and I began to form our own nightly rituals and routines. One our fondest routines was watching two back to back episodes of "Whose Line Is it Anyway?" just before going to bed. We found that laughter really was good medicine. It was a special bonding time for us that we still talk about.

Just recently, we started watching pieces of episodes of "Whose Line is it Anyway" that we found on YouTube. It's beginning to be part of our nightly routine again. It's nice to have that time to laugh just before going to bed. You should try it.

Typical US LineUp for Whose Line is it Anyway?

Drew Carey-host

Ryan Stiles

Colin Mochrie

Wayne Brady

The remaining seat position was held by various people in various episodes such as:

  • Greg Proops
  • Brad Sherwood
  • Chip Esten
  • Denny Siegel
  • Kathy Greenwood
  • Josie Lawrence
  • Robin Williams
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Sid Caesar
  • David Hasselhoff
  • Florence Henderson
  • Jerry Springer
  • Joanie "Chyna" Laurer
  • Richard Simmons
  • Katie Harman
  • Jayne Trcka
  • Kathy Kinney
  • Hugh Hefner
  • Lassie

The History of "Whose Line Is It Anyway"

For anyone who may not be familiar with the show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? is an improvisational comedy TV show that originally began as a British radio program in the UK. It made its transition to television in 1988 in the UK and in the U.S. in 1998. The British version lasted for 10 series and a total of 136 episodes all hosted by Clive Anderson. The US version was hosted by Drew Carey and was cancelled in 2003.

The show is made up of a panel of four performers and a host. The host prompts the performers based on a series of topics and some audience suggestions. The performers then create skits, characters and songs on the spot.

The US catch phrase was "the points don't matter". Drew Carey would pretend to give points with the idea of determining a winner. It's all done arbitrarily and although a winner is chosen at the end, it has nothing to do with anything. It's just a cute gimmick for laughs that allows for quite a bit of joking around.

A partial list of the games they play are listed below. Of all of the games, I think we enjoy "Sound Effects" the most. It really showcases their improvisational abilities. Our favorite segment is shown below. Be sure to watch it, if you don't laugh at that, you won't laugh at anything.

Games Played on "Whose Line Is It Anyway"

There is a pretty good core group of games that they regularly play. Every now and then, they'll throw in a new one. Some of the common games are:

  • Scenes from a hat-the host has a large magician style hat that he draws slips of paper from. The slips are suggestions from the audience for things they'd like to see the performers demonstrate. One might be: "Things you'd never want to hear your spouse say while making love" The performers then take turns coming up with funny answers to that.
  • Hoedown-all four performers create a country-type song with a couple of lines at time. The song will be based on a suggestion from the audience.

  • Irish Drinking Song-all four performers create an Irish type song a couple of lines at time based on a topic from the audience.

  • Props-the four performers break up into two teams and are given some random items that they must create as many uses for as they can.

  • News Flash/Green Screen-Colin Mochrie would stand in front of a green screen playing the role of a field reporter. The remaining performers would play the role of news anchormen and watch the segment being shown to the audience on the screen and give Colin clues about what was being shown. Clues were in the form of puns or plays on words. Colin would then guess what the segment was about.

  • Greatest Hits: Colin and Ryan would act as pitchmen for an infomercial selling compilation CDs based on a topic provided by the audience. They would make up off the wall song titles to be sung in the style of some well-known performer they named. It was usually Wayne Brady who did the singing.
  • Show Stopping Number: The performers create a scene based on audience suggestion and when the buzzer sounds they last performer speaking now sings a show-stopping tune based on their last line.

  • Three-Headed Broadway Star: The audience provides a song title and three performers sing a Broadway-style song, with each performer singing one word at a time, in turn.

  • Alphabet: Two performers enact a given scene in which each sentence must begin with the subsequent letter of the alphabet beginning with an audience-suggested letter. The performers must go through the entire alphabet once.

  • If You Know What I Mean: Three of the performers improvise a scene in which they make up as many sexual innuendos related to the given topic as they can, ending each with the phrase "if you know what I mean."

  • Number of Words: The four performers enact a given scene but can only speak in sentences or phrases with the exact number of words they have been given.

  • Questions Only: Two performers enact a given scene speaking only in questions, while the other performers wait to replace them if they mess up or take too long.

  • Let's Make A Date: One performer plays a contestant on a dating show while the other three act as potential dates. The contestant asks questions while the dates act out the character they have been given in an envelope. The contestant tries to guess who they are based on the clues given.

  • Party Quirks: One performer hosts a party which the other three arrive at the party pretending to be odd personalities given to them in an envelope. The host guesses who they are based on the clues.

  • Director / Hollywood Director: Three performers are given a scene. A fourth performer, Colin, is the director, who interrupts the scene and has the performers re-enact the same scene in a different style or performance suggestion.

  • Hats/Dating Service Video: Each pair of performers is given a box of hats and headgear. They take turns creating characters from "the world's worst dating service videos".

  • Superheroes: One performer is a superhero with an odd audience-suggested identity. He faces an audience-suggested crisis, and is joined by another performer. In welcoming this performer, he provides them another odd superhero identity. The third and fourth performers arrive in turn, and are named by their predecessors as well.

  • Weird Newscasters: One performer is the lead anchor of a news broadcast who acts normally; the other three are the co-host, sports anchor, and weather anchor, and are each given an odd personality or character which they must exhibit. The anchor is always Colin, the weatherman is always Ryan and the sports director is always Wayne.

  • Helping Hands: Three performers enact a food/cooking scene; Ryan puts his arms behind his back and Colin's arms come from behind him to become his hands. Ryan will interact with another performer while cooking and eating concoctions that Colin's hands make.
  • Living Scenery: Two performers enact a given scene where two other performers or sometimes special guests stand in for props during the scene.

  • Moving People: Two performers enact a scene, but they cannot move on their own. The get two audience members to move them into different positions during the scene.

  • Sound Effects: Two female audience members are chosen to provide the sounds effects for Colin and Ryan. They are given a scene to enact and Colin and Ryan improvise using whatever sounds become available to them from the audience members.

Our Favorite Sound Effects Segment-You Must See This!


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    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Central Texas

      I agree, prairieprincess! My daughter and I frequently hop over to YouTube to find little snippets of the show just for a few laughs.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Love, love, love this show! Some of the funniest stuff, ever. I used to watch the American version whenever I had a chance. Thanks for a great hub!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      I like Greg Proops too. I haven't watched any of the British episodes, I need to look them up on YouTube. I'm glad I stirred up some memories for you. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know.

    • twalker74 profile image

      Tyson Walker 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas Nevada

      Great post KCC. How I had forgotten such a wonderful show. I never really got into the American version, but the episodes from the BCC were great memories. There was a lot of talent on that show. I always remember Greg Proops alongside Stiles and their witty take, aggressive takes on both Americans abroad and the local Brits. In addition, I loved the breakdown of the games they played. Reading each one brought back a happy memory.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      I know Carmen! My daughter and I were laughing so hard one night recently that we really got a good ab workout...our stomach muscles ached. Even the small segments are a good pick-me-up when you're a bit on the gloomy side.

    • Carmen Borthwick profile image

      Carmen Borthwick 

      9 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

      I loved that show! I'd completely forgotten about it, thanks for the reminder. There were times when I had tears rolling down my cheeks I laughed so hard!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      If you enjoyed the video clip, kunika, there are lots more segments on YouTube. If you really love it, you can purchase some of the fine DVDs Amazon has listed above. *wink* LOL Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Never heard about it anyway great information as I love to watch comedy serial,movies and the subtle humor but not personal satire.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks, Maggs. That's really how most of my hubs are born. It's usually something personal that I feel compelled to write about. She was sitting with me last night when we were deciding which segment to include. We both felt this one was the best. We watched it several times last night alone.

    • maggs224 profile image


      9 years ago from Sunny Spain

      I love this hub especially the way you set this programme into the context of your time with your daughter this made it very special and gave a whole new dimension to the rest of the hub. I loved the video segment enhanced by the thought of you and your daughter laughing together.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks wesleycox. I think Ryan is the best, but he and Colin really play off each other well. The group really had a good rapport. I didn't care for Drew initially, but he grew on me.

    • wesleycox profile image


      9 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      I used to watch this show religiously. I loved the antics of these actors, especially Ryan Stiles.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      You're welcome, Addison! I just love Ryan Stiles! I'm really glad it made it's way to the US. It's really a funny show. I bet the UK version was quite interesting in its rawness.

    • Addison profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for memories KCC - as you can see from the YouTube video Ryan Stiles was a regular on the U.K. series long before he became well-known in the U.S.

      The UK version which was eventually shown on BBC America was a lot more risque and somewhat more raw than Drew Carey's version.

      At times the stuff was so good and slick in the U.S. version that I wondered just how much had been rehearsed. But like you say it was side-splitting anyway - and so who cares!


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