Actor and comedian Ryan Stiles, known for his work on such TV shows as “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” thinks that improvisational comedy is a combination of instinct and hard work.
“You have to be funny, but you have to be listening and adding on info,” Stiles said. “I think of it as more of being an actor than being a comic. You are playing a scene.”
Stiles, along with Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis and Joel Murray, will present “Whose Live Anyway” on Nov. 2 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
For the live show, the improvisational comedians take ideas from the audience to create original scenes — similar to “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Also, throughout the show, audience members are brought up on stage to add an extra element of the unexpected.
“The show is all audience suggestions,” Stiles said. “We use the audience a lot more than we do in the TV shows.”
Stiles has been part of the “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” TV show since its inception in Britain. He joined the British show in 1990 and stayed with it for nine years. Following the conclusion of the British run in 1998, ABC-TV began airing an American version, which lasted for eight seasons. Stiles, along with Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie, were the primary performers in the American version, which was hosted by Drew Carey. A new version of the TV show, hosted by Aisha Tyler, ran on the CW network in 2013.
As a comedic actor, Stiles played Lewis Kiniski in ABC-TV’s “The Drew Carey Show” and he played Herb Melnick on the CBS-TV comedy “Two and a Half Men.” Stiles appeared in the 1991 film “Hot Shots” and the 1993 sequel “Hot Shots! Part Deux.” Stiles believes he has done well in the business primarily due to his work ethic.
“I think if you do good work, you gain respect,” he said. “I’ve been doing ‘Two and a Half Men’ for eight and a half years. They bring you back for a reason. If you do good work, you’ll get work.”
Although he is an accomplished actor, comedian and director, Stiles finds the improvisational work to be the most satisfying.
“With stand-up, there is a ‘Make me laugh’ attitude from the audience,” he said. “With improv, the audience wants it to work.
“And the great thing about improv is that you do not have to plan anything,” he continued. “You just get up there and do it.”
And one of the keys for Stiles’ success in the improvisational arena is that he works with people he knows and admires.
“I wouldn’t work with anyone I didn’t get along with,” he said of his fellow performers Proops, Davis and Murray. “We’ve never had any arguments. There are no hot dogs in the show. We all have our strong points. We all complement each other. I compare it to a band. You play your own instrument and it does not sound the same if someone is not there. We have fun with it.”