Ryan Stiles

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Ryan Stiles
Stiles in November 2008
Birth nameRyan Lee Stiles
Born (1959-04-22) April 22, 1959 (age 64)[1]
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
MediumStand up, television, film
Years active1985–present
GenresImprovisational comedy
Patricia McDonald
(m. 1988)
Notable works and roles

Ryan Lee Stiles (born April 22, 1959) is an American-Canadian actor, comedian, and producer whose work is often associated with improvisational comedy. He is best known for his work on the original British series and American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and for his role as Lewis Kiniski on The Drew Carey Show. He also played Herb Melnick on the CBS comedy Two and a Half Men and was a performer on the show Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza.

Early life and career[edit]

The youngest of five children, Ryan Stiles was born in Seattle to Canadian parents Irene and Sonny Stiles.[1][2] He grew up with his mother, a homemaker, and his father, a supervisor at a Vancouver-based Canadian fish processing plant. When he was ten, his family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Ryan Stiles attended R.C. Palmer Junior Secondary School and Richmond Senior Secondary in Richmond, British Columbia. Although he was a good student, Stiles has admitted that "being a high-school senior gave [him] too much freedom." He got so carried away with his flexible schedule that at age 17, he quit school a few months shy of graduation.

Despite his parents' objections, he was able to support himself doing stand-up routines at clubs near his home in Vancouver. He helped Rich Elwood start Punchlines Comedy Club. During this time he was the head writer of The Don Harron Show on CTV and the host of Comedy College on CBC. Stiles was a regular improv performer with the Vancouver Theatresports League and Punchlines' "No Name Player" before joining the Second City comedy ensemble at Expo 86. He continued performing with Second City in Toronto and later in Los Angeles.


Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Drew Carey Show[edit]

By 1989, Stiles had gained the attention of the producers of the British improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? Stiles was a regular on the show until its end in 1998. His performance on the program earned him both critical praise and a devoted fan following in the United Kingdom. In 1995, Stiles was asked by American comic Drew Carey to be a regular on his comedy The Drew Carey Show. Stiles played Carey's erudite but underachieving best friend, Lewis Kiniski.

In 1998, Carey successfully lobbied ABC to produce an American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Following the final season of the British version in 1998, the American version premiered, with both Stiles and Carey credited as executive producers. Stiles received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 2002 for his work on the show.[3] A running gag of the show is Stiles' flashy dress shoes.

Though he never appeared in the series, Stiles (along with Kaitlin Olson) performed in the taping of the unaired pilot episode of Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, which involved improv games similar to Whose Line? games played in front of a massive green screen. Animation was later added to the improv footage.

Stiles returned as performer and executive producer for The CW's revival of Whose Line Is It Anyway? in the summer of 2013.[4][5]

Other television and film work[edit]

Stiles appeared in the 1991 film Hot Shots! as Mailman Farnham and its 1993 sequel, Hot Shots! Part Deux, as marine Rabinowitz. He portrayed recurring character Dr. Herb Melnick on Two and a Half Men from 2004 until the show's end in 2015. He made short guest appearances on Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Murphy Brown, Mad About You, Mad TV, and Dharma & Greg. In July 2008, he was a guest star on Reno 911! as Sergeant Clift, an acting coach.

During the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, Stiles appeared in several commercials for Nike, hanging out in an empty ballpark, doing things such as playing the organ and attempting to do the wave alone. The commercials ended with the line: "Play ball. Please."

In 2005, Stiles appeared in the mockumentary Conker: Celebrity Squirrel produced for the promotion of the Xbox video game Conker: Live & Reloaded.[6] This role led to gamers voting to induct him into the 2015 class of the DK Vine Hall of Fame.[7]


Stiles has been a frequent fundraiser for children with burn injuries, raising over $500,000 for the Burned Children Recovery Center since 2009 and helping the foundation to recover from the Great Recession.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1981, Stiles met Patricia McDonald at Punchlines where she was a waitress. They married in 1988. They have three children.[9]

When not working, he lives at his home on Lake Samish, outside Bellingham, Washington,[10] where he opened the Upfront Theatre, a small theatre dedicated to live improv comedy.[11]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Rainbow War Short film
1991 Hot Shots! Dominic "Mailman" Farnham
Public Enemy #2 Sidewalk Santa
1993 Hot Shots! Part Deux Rabinowitz
1997 Courting Courtney Chad Gross
2003 Nobody Knows Anything! Harold Uncredited
The Devil Made Me Do It The Devil Short film
2006 The Extra Clyde Short film
2009 Astro Boy Mr. Mustachio / Burning Robot Voice
2011 Spooky Buddies Hoot Voice
2012 Treasure Buddies Slither Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Beachcombers Leo aka Tall Suit Season 14, episode 6: "Halibut Stu"
1986 The Hitchhiker Maker Also known as Deadly Nightmares in the United Kingdom; Le Voyageur in France
Season 3, episode 7: "O.D. Feelin'"
1988 110 Lombard TV movie
1989–1999 Whose Line Is It Anyway? Himself UK series, 76 episodes
1990 It's Garry Shandling's Show Kenny Tuchman / Bob #2 Season 4, episode 13: "Chester Gets a Show"
1991 Who's the Boss? Bobo the Clown Season 7, episode 20: "Party Politics"
Life As We Know It! TV movie
1991-1992 Parker Lewis Can't Lose Weather Guy / Clerk / Sweepstakes Guy 3 episodes
Uncredited - 2 episodes
1992 Say What? Actor TV movie
1993-1994 Mad About You Boss / Video Vogue Manager 2 episodes
The John Larroquette Show CIA Agent Kinkaid / Mac / Dave 3 episodes
1994 Weird Science Dale Griffin Season 2, episode 13: "Unplugged"
L.A.X. 2194 TV pilot
1995–2004 The Drew Carey Show Lewis Kiniski Main role; 231 episodes
Director - Season 5, episode 23: "Kate vs. Speedy"
1996 Saturday Night Special Creative consultant
1997 Murphy Brown Acolyte Monk #2 Season 9, episode 19: "Desperate Times"
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Himself US series, 335 episodes
Executive producer; 294 episodes
1999 ABC TGIF Lewis Kiniski Segment: "Drew Clues 2"
Norm Uncredited
Season 2, episode 8: "Gambling Man"
2000 The Cartoon Cartoon Show Vivian Voice
Episode: "Foe Paws"
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Professor Spyro Lepton / Von Madman Voice
Episode 37: "Eye of the Tempest"
2001 Hollywood Squares Himself / Panelist 10 episodes
Improv All Stars Himself TV special
Dharma & Greg Abraham Lincoln Uncredited
Season 4, episode 10: "Dutch Treat"
2002 Rugrats Ralph Voice
Season 8, episode 4: "Bow Wow Wedding Vows"
2004–2015 Two and a Half Men Dr. Herb Melnick Recurring role; 30 episodes, Seasons 2, 4–10, 12
2008 Reno 911! Acting coach Season 5, episode 15: "Undercover Acting Coach"
2009 Memory Lanes Ryan Murray TV movie
Bless This Mess Paul TV movie
2011 Working Class Dr. Edwin Gould DDS Episode 2: "Dental Claims"
Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza Himself Recurring performer, 34 episodes
Producer; 7 episodes
2012 Are You There, Chelsea? Jerry Episode 9: "Fired"
2013 Bellingham T'Nite TV short
Executive producer
2019 American Housewife Bill Doty Season 4, episode 3: "Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems"
2020 Young Sheldon Dr. Bowers Season 3, episode 20: "A Baby Tooth and the Egyptian God of Knowledge"
2023 Ted Lasso Bruce (voice) Season 3, episode 10: "International Break"


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Chrysler Miming Pitchman New Yorker Fifth Avenue, in comparison to the Cadillac DeVille
1994 Nike Organ Player Pleading for the end of the 94/95 MLB strike
1998 KFC "Famous Actor" New Hot 'N' Spicy Chicken
Kwik Save Customer Kwik Save Hotline
2001 Kinko's "Kenny" Various
2004 Progressive Automotive Insurance Himself Various
2005 Pizza Hut Himself Various
2007 Playskool Professional Various
2011 Zaxby's Himself Birthday cake milkshake


  1. ^ a b "Ryan Stiles". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  2. ^ Tracy, Kathleen (1997). Home Brewed: The Drew Carey Story. Boulevard. p. 97. ISBN 9781572973619.
  3. ^ "Whose Line Is It Anyway?". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  4. ^ "Whose Line Is It Anyway? Returns to Television as Part of The CW's Summer 2013 Schedule" (Press release). The CW. March 1, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2021 – via The Futon Critic.
  5. ^ Nellie Andreeva (March 1, 2013). "CW Brings Back Whose Line Is It Anyway? For Summer Run, Aisha Tyler To Host". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Conker: Celebrity Squirrel. November 9, 2006. Archived from the original on December 11, 2021. Retrieved December 26, 2015 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ DK Vine Hall of Fame 2015 (Part Five). August 10, 2015. Archived from the original on December 11, 2021. Retrieved December 26, 2015 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "Burned Children Recovery Foundation". Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  9. ^ Spalding, Derek (May 8, 2008). "Iconic actor likes to stay close to home". Nanaimo Daily News. CanWest. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  10. ^ Bryan, Saint (March 24, 2006). "Ryan Stiles, back home again". Evening Magazine. Seattle: KING-TV. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  11. ^ Chant, Ian (June 2006). "Shooting From the Hip – Upfront Theatre Improv mixes it up". Bellingham, Washington: What's Up magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2008.

External links[edit]