Whose Line Is It Anyway? (U.S. TV series)
|Whose Line Is It Anyway?|
Current Title card
|Created by||Dan Patterson|
|Presented by||Drew Carey (1998–2007)
Aisha Tyler (2013–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||11|
|No. of episodes||275 (as of October 5, 2015) (list of episodes)|
|Location(s)||Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1998–2007)
Hollywood, California (2013–)
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hat Trick Productions (1998–2007, 2013–)
Warner Bros. Television (1998–2007)
Angst Productions (2013–)
Warner Horizon Television (2013–)
|Original network||ABC (1998–2004)
ABC Family (2005–07)
The CW (2013–)
|Picture format||4:3 (1998–2007)
1080i (HDTV) (2013–)
|Original release||August 5, 1998– present|
|Preceded by||Whose Line Is It Anyway? (UK TV series)|
|Related shows||Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza
Drew Carey's Green Screen Show
Trust Us with Your Life
Whose Line is it Anyway? (often known as simply Whose Line?) is an improvisational comedy show, which was originally hosted by Drew Carey on ABC and ABC Family and ran from August 5, 1998 to December 15, 2007. A revival of the show, hosted by Aisha Tyler, began airing on The CW on July 16, 2013.
The series is a spin-off of the British show of the same name and features Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady as its regular performers with the fourth seat occupied by a guest panelist. All three regulars appeared on the British series; Stiles and Mochrie were regulars there as well while Brady was a frequent guest on the final series which moved production from London to Hollywood.
The show consists of a panel of four performers who create characters, scenes and songs on the spot, in the style of short-form improvisation games. Topics for the games are based on either audience suggestions or predetermined prompts from the host, who would set up a game and situation that the performers would improvise. The original host Drew Carey awarded arbitrary point values after each game, often citing a humorous reason for his decision. The points were purely decorative and served no practical purpose. He would reiterate this at the beginning of, and multiple times throughout, each episode by describing Whose Line as "the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter". The style of the games were varied (see Games, below). Some featured all four performers, while others featured fewer. Between games, the performers sat in four chairs facing the audience. The performers who were not involved in a game remained in their seats. Additionally, the show was marked by humorous banter among the performers and host.
At the conclusion of each episode, a winner or several winners were chosen arbitrarily by Carey. The "prize" was either to play a game with the host, or to sit out while the other performers did so. After this game during the first season of the series, credits simply rolled under the show's theme. In the second season, the reading of the credits was performed by one or more cast members in a comedic fashion, based on a theme announced by Carey that often derived from a successful joke earlier in the show.
The show's 'short-form' approach to improv received criticism from some improv actors. However, performer Colin Mochrie has stated the show was never intended to be the "be-all and end-all" of improv, but that it was meant to introduce improv to the masses.
Drew Carey hosted the first U.S. version of Whose Line?. The two permanent performers throughout Carey's tenure as host were Colin Mochrie (third seat) and Ryan Stiles (fourth seat), both of whom had been regular performers in the UK version of the show. Stiles first appeared in UK season 2, in 1989, while Mochrie made his first appearance in UK season 3, in 1991. By 1995, they were both appearing in every episode of the UK series, which continued through 1998 even as the US version of the series was being made.
Wayne Brady appeared as a frequently recurring performer during the first season of the US show (appearing in 16 of the season's 20 episodes) and became a permanent regular during the second season, always appearing in either the first or second seat. After appearing in every episode of seasons 2 through 7, in the eighth season Brady appeared in only 17 of the 21 episodes (which was made up of unused episodes taped for season 1).
The remaining seat(s) was/were most commonly filled by other veterans of the UK series, including Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, and Chip Esten. Proops and Sherwood sat in the first seat, while Esten sat in the second seat. Esten did not appear until the second season. Several newcomers joined the rotation, such as Denny Siegel, Kathy Kinney, Kathy Greenwood and Jeff Davis in the first two seasons, and all of them sat in the second seat. Patrick Bristow, Stephen Colbert, and Ian Gomez also made appearances in the first season.
The show occasionally featured celebrity fourth-chairs, such as Robin Williams, Kathy Griffin and Whoopi Goldberg. All celebrity fourth-chairs sat in the second seat. Other celebrities made guest appearances for individual games, including: Sid Caesar, David Hasselhoff, Florence Henderson, Jerry Springer, Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, Richard Simmons, Katie Harman, Jayne Trcka, the Loyola Marymount University cheerleaders, Hugh Hefner and Lassie.
Improvisational musician Laura Hall, who also appeared in the tenth series of the British version, joined the American series for its entire run and performed piano and keyboards in games featuring improvisational singing by the cast members. From the second season onward, other musicians joined Hall. Linda Taylor made frequent appearances playing guitar and occasionally keyboards. Cece Worrall-Rubin, Anne King, Candy Girard and Anna Wanselius appeared alongside Hall (and sometimes also Taylor) on occasion.
The number and type of games played varied from episode to episode. However, some games became more common over time, while others faded from use. New games were created throughout the run of both series. Some games are based on traditional improv games, while others were uniquely created for the series.
While all games were designed to test the performers' improvisational comedy skills, some also tested other skills, such as singing, dancing, or impressions. Whose Line features a number of musical games, with one or more of the show's resident musicians playing live backing music. Occasionally, pre-recorded music was also used. While they had no bad feelings about it, many of the performers disliked the musical games (Stiles in particular frequently expressed open disdain towards the "Hoedown" game); Wayne Brady turned out to be well-suited to the musical games, with Chip Esten, Jeff Davis and Brad Sherwood also making frequent appearances as Wayne's duet partner. Only on rare occasions did Mochrie actually sing any lyrics. Instead, he would simply deliver his lines in a spoken word fashion.
Some games require suggestions for specific topics or situations. The host will sometimes call to the studio audience for suggestions, while for other games, this information is written by the production staff, or submitted by the audience in advance, and chosen from those submissions. The host also controls a buzzer, which will end most games (or individual sections of rapid-fire games).
Whose Line Is It Anyway? was created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson in 1988 as a radio show on BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom. This early incarnation of the show is notable as being the origin of its tradition of having the performers read the credits in an amusing style; as it was a radio show, it was necessary for somebody to read the credits, and it was decided that it might as well be done as part of the program, rather than being done by a traditional BBC Radio announcer. This approach to reading credits was pioneered by the earlier BBC radio show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. Indeed, the title of the show itself is a comedic riposte to another radio show, What's My Line, merged with the title of a 1972 teleplay (and eventual theatrical play) Whose Life Is It Anyway?.
The radio series lasted for six episodes, after which Channel 4 developed the franchise for television. The British television version lasted for a total of 10 seasons, with 136 episodes, all of which were hosted by Clive Anderson. Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles, who would later star in the U.S. version, became regular cast members in the seventh and eighth seasons.
The UK series was brought to the attention of Drew Carey, who worked with regular Whose Line? performer Ryan Stiles, a co-star on The Drew Carey Show. Carey convinced ABC to air test episodes in the United States. The show turned into an inexpensive hit (though less so than the British version), and ABC kept Carey on as host. The show ranked 29th in its first season, averaging 13.1 million viewers per episode. The show ran on ABC for six seasons, benefiting from the low expectations of its Thursday night time slot, as ABC was not expected to mount a serious threat to what was then NBC's longtime Thursday dominance in the Nielsen ratings. While the network would regularly premiere two new episodes in one night, there were several occurrences in which some episodes were skipped or postponed until a later date because of the airing of other new shows or specials.
The format of the American version was very similar to the British program. A major difference was Carey's use of the game-show facade, explicitly stating at the start of each episode that "the points don't matter," and sometimes emphasizing this throughout the episodes. The difference in standards in the UK compared to U.S. prime time meant stricter censoring of both language and content on the U.S. series.
Production of the American version was canceled by ABC in 2003 because of low ratings, with already-produced episodes airing first-run into 2004. The ABC Family cable channel, which had been airing repeats of the show since 2002, also showed "new" episodes from 2005 to 2007, formed from previously filmed but unaired performances.
Following the cancellation, Carey went on to create the short-lived Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, which premiered in 2004 on the WB. The series was very similar to Whose Line?, and featured many of the same cast. The major gimmick on that series was that the acting was done in front of a green screen, and animators later added cartoon imagery to the scenes.
Drew Carey and several cast members also started touring North America with a live-action show called (Drew Carey's) Improv All-Stars. The show was a live stage show similar to Whose Line?, and featuring many of the same games, though also with some new ones. The live shows started in 2003, and since 2006, are only seen on occasion, mostly due to Carey's current television obligations. Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Drew Carey performed at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal as "Improv All-Stars" in 2003 and 2004. Since 2005, Mochrie and Sherwood have toured semi-regularly as An Evening With Colin and Brad.
Greg Proops and Ryan Stiles presented Stiles & Proops Unplanned which was a live improv comedy show based on the successful Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned format that took place at Centaur Theatre in Montreal, Canada in July 2008. They also tour with former co-stars Chip Esten and Jeff Davis under the name Whose Live Anyway? doing live improv. Proops appeared as Max Madigan on Nickelodeon's True Jackson, VP, and is currently hosting Head Games on The Science Channel and was the host of "Odd News" segments for Yahoo! (now called Broken News Daily) while Esten has made multiple appearances in various TV series including The Office, ER (also produced by Warner Bros.) and Big Love and guest-starred in Enlightened. In 2007, Mochrie was host of a five-episode run of Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader? on Global TV in Canada.
Carey, Stiles, Brady, and Esten were all later employed by American television network CBS; Carey succeeded Bob Barker as the host of the long-running game show The Price Is Right (after a short stint as host of another game show, Power of 10). In addition, Sherwood and Davis served as guest announcers for the 2010-11 season of The Price Is Right, after the departure of Rich Fields, who was eventually replaced by George Gray. Stiles has appeared as a supporting character on the sitcom Two and a Half Men. Esten had a recurring role on The New Adventures of Old Christine, made a guest appearance in NCIS: Los Angeles, and currently stars in Nashville.
Brady had a summer variety show on ABC in 2001, The Wayne Brady Show and then hosted a daytime talk show of the same name for two seasons, starting in September 2002. He also was the host of Fox's Don't Forget the Lyrics. In 2007, he made a guest appearance in one episode of 30 Rock, and has made several appearances on How I Met Your Mother as Barney Stinson's homosexual brother. He also had a couple of guest appearances on Chappelle's Show. Since October 5, 2009, Brady has been the host of CBS' revival of the classic game show Let's Make a Deal. Featuring Jonathan Mangum as announcer and Co-Host, this new iteration utilized some classic elements of improv from Whose Line, most notably Brady's singing and comedic abilities, occasionally breaking out into spontaneous musical improv in front of or involving contestants, and not being a stipulated aspect of the particular game to be played. As of 2009, at least every main Whose Line participant has hosted a game show except Ryan Stiles.
On November 18, 2010, Variety announced that Drew Carey would start a primetime improv show on GSN. The series, entitled Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza, debuted on April 11, 2011 on GSN and has featured most of the Whose Line regular cast and ended in June 2011; Rich Fields was the announcer for the series. A second season was not ordered and the show was terminated.
On July 10, 2012, ABC premiered a new improv comedy series featuring several of the Whose Line alumni called Trust Us With Your Life. Some of the players included Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, Greg Proops, Jonathan Mangum, and Nicole Parker. However, on July 30, after only six episodes had aired, ABC pulled the remaining episodes after its host Fred Willard was arrested on a lewd-conduct charge at the Tiki Theater, an adult movie theater in Hollywood, California.
In February 2013, Ryan Stiles revealed in an interview that he would be returning to Los Angeles in April for a new season of Whose Line, hosted by Aisha Tyler and featuring the original cast of the U.S. version. It was confirmed that The CW would bring back the comedy series for 12 episodes beginning on July 16, 2013.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? returned to television, this time on The CW, with Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and Wayne Brady, and Aisha Tyler taking the role of the host. In addition to the traditional rotating fourth improv player (often drawn from same pool of regulars that appeared on the original show), a new feature was that of a "special guest". This fifth player would not necessarily have an improv background, but would still participate in some of the improv games.
The initial summer run was made up of twelve half-hour episodes with the three veteran players joined by a featured player, along with a different special guest for each episode who would play in some of the games.
On July 29, 2013, The CW announced that it had renewed the show for a 24-episode season, airing Fridays at 8 ET/PT starting March 21, 2014, due to solid ratings. Illness prevented Stiles from appearing in two season 10 episodes, the first Whose Line shows he had missed in nearly 20 years, dating back to the original British series. Greg Proops filled in for Stiles on these occasions.
 On July 18, 2014, The CW announced that the show will be returning for a 24-episode eleventh season (and third season on The CW) which started airing on April 17, 2015. On August 11, 2015 the series was renewed for a twelfth season (fourth on The CW) to air in 2016.
- Colin Mochrie – 275 episodes
- Ryan Stiles – 273 episodes
- Wayne Brady – 266 episodes (starring seasons 2–7, 9–; recurring seasons 1 & 8)
- Drew Carey (host) – 219 episodes (seasons 1–8)
- Aisha Tyler (host) – 56 episodes (season 9–)
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||20||August 5, 1998||March 24, 1999||ABC|
|2||39||September 16, 1999||May 18, 2000|
|3||39 + 1 special||October 12, 2000||June 21, 2001|
|4||31||September 6, 2001||April 11, 2002|
|5||34||September 9, 2002||September 5, 2003|
|6||10||June 24, 2004||September 4, 2004|
|7||25||January 17, 2005||May 23, 2005||ABC Family|
|8||21||October 3, 2005||December 15, 2007|
|9||12||July 16, 2013||September 24, 2013||The CW|
|10||24||March 21, 2014||November 21, 2014|
|11||20||April 17, 2015||October 5, 2015|
Awards and nominations
- 2003: Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for Wayne Brady
- 2001: Emmy Award for 'Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program' for Wayne Brady
- 2002: Emmy Award for 'Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program' for Wayne Brady
- 2002: Emmy Award for 'Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program' for Ryan Stiles
The U.S. version of Whose Line? has been broadcast in the UK, originally on Channel 4. Challenge was the first non-terrestrial channel to broadcast the show for a brief period in 2005. From 2007 onwards, 5USA has been the current broadcaster to air the show. In Canada, the show also ran on the CTV network from 1998 to 2003, and then on The Comedy Network from 2003 onwards. The show's original run in Australia was broadcast on the Nine Network in an early morning time slot. From 2011, One has been repeating the program to Australian audiences. It also airs on Foxtel (Australian pay-TV) on The Comedy Channel and on Sky Network Television (New Zealand satellite television) on the Box. From 2014, South African youth channel Vuzu started airing the CW revival.
The first DVD, Season 1, Volume 1, of the U.S. version of Whose Line? was released on September 26, 2006. It comes in "censored" or "uncensored" versions. Both releases include the first ten episodes of the first season, with the episodes being the same on either version. The first seven episodes have had their original theme music (including all credits and ad bumpers) replaced with the version used for the rest of the episodes. Warner Home Video released Season 1, Volume 2 on October 9, 2007, but only in an "uncensored" version.
Warner Home Video released a two-disc "best of" compilation with ten episodes on June 9, 2009. Featured in this release were celebrity guest episodes including appearances by David Hasselhoff, Florence Henderson, Jerry Springer, Richard Simmons and bodybuilder Jayne Trcka, along with the hour-long "Best of Whose Line" compilation episode aired at the beginning of season three.
|DVD title||No. of
|Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Season One, Vol. 1||10||110||September 26, 2006||Uncensored|
|Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Season One, Vol. 1||10||220||October 9, 2007||Censored|
|Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Season One, Vol. 2||10||260||October 9, 2007||Uncensored|
|The Best of Whose Line Is It Anyway?||11||300||June 9, 2009||Uncensored; includes the special "Best of Whose Line" episode|
- List of Whose Line Is It Anyway? episodes
- Drew Carey's Green Screen Show
- Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza
- Trust Us With Your Life
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). New York: Ballantine. p. 1517. ISBN 1419835599.
- "About The Show". ABC Family. Retrieved 2010-03-28.[dead link]
- Conversations with Ross: Featuring Colin Mochrie http://www.rosscarey.com/2011/07/28/episode-40-featuring-colin-mochrie/
- "Sid Caesar, Lassie guest on `Whose Line'". Chicago Tribune. 2001-11-14.
- "Special "Salute to American Television" episode. Featured special guests Lassie and Sid Caesar". TV.com. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
- "Jayne Tricka IMDb profile". IMDb.
- Conversations with Ross: Featuring Brad Sherwood http://www.rosscarey.com/2011/08/17/episode-42-featuring-brad-sherwood/
- "Whose Line Is It Anyway? Episode 8021 Guide". TV.com. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
- "Welcome to the Improv All-Stars website". Improvallstars.com. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- An Evening With Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood
- Proops, Greg. "Smartest Man In The World Podcast #241, Vans". Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- Weisman, Jon (2010-11-18). "Carey to produce, host GSN primetime series". Variety. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- "ABC Debuts "Trust Us With Your Life" on Tuesday, July 10th, at 9:00PM ET". BuzzerBlog. 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "ABC pulls Fred Willard improv show after arrest". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. July 30, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- Rachel HansenWorld staff writer. "His line: Improv master Ryan Stiles returns to the PAC". The Wenatchee World. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- Goldman, Eric (2013-04-01). "CW Announces Premiere Date for Whose Line is It Anyway?". IGN. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- ""Whose Line is it Anyway?" Returns to Television as Part of The CW's Summer 2013 Schedule". 4 March 2013.
- Ng, Philiana. ""Whose Line is it Anyway?" Being Revived By The CW". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Levin, Gary (December 12, 2013). "CW adds two dramas to its midseason schedule". USA Today. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
- "TCA: The CW Renews Revived ‘Whose Line’ For Second Season". Variety. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
- Porter, Rick (July 18, 2014). "'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' renewed for third season on The CW". Zap2it. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
- "Whose Line Is It Anyway? DVD news: Drew Carey To Get Some Helping Hands With September Release Date! | TVShowsOnDVD.com". TVShowsOnDVD.com<!. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- "Whose Line Is It Anyway? DVD news: Announcement for Whose Line Is It Anyway? - Season 1, Volume 2 (Uncensored) | TVShowsOnDVD.com". TVShowsOnDVD.com<!. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- "Whose Line Is It Anyway? DVD news: Announcement for Whose Line Is It Anyway? - Best Of (Uncensored) | TVShowsOnDVD.com". TVShowsOnDVD.com<!. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Whose Line Is It Anyway?|
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? at the Internet Movie Database
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The CW website, includes all past U.S. episodes
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Hat Trick Productions website
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? U.S. and U.K. episodes