Back at the Fringe for the twentieth year in a row from his native San Francisco, Greg Proops is a veteran who has spent years on the comedy circuit in a variety of roles and an ever wider variety of shows. This longevity implies an assured and practiced performer and in this respect he certainly delivers.
He strode back and forth across the vast stage, regularly not at the front and often not even facing the audience, such was his confidence. This was well-placed as the audience whooped and often applauded his witticisms and impressions throughout. The material and its delivery in general is probably best described as Righteous Indignation and while it does edge uncomfortably close to parody at times with Proops remonstrating ‘the young folk’ or citing various cultural stereotypes, it is always amusing and well expanded.
His background in Improv is abundantly clear: much of his material seems to be summoned from the air, off the cuff or on topics that are too current to be in any real sense prepared in advance. All of this is embellished with his vast command of accents or his expert use of physical comedy, aided by the skipping and lackadaisical spinning about the stage. The topics that appear to be prepared do not markedly stand out, indicative both of his ability as an improviser and perhaps also of the lack of truly ground-breaking material.
He had to contend with a number of difficulties throughout: mock arguing with the lighting desk after asking them to lower the lights to prevent him from melting onstage or berating the loud band playing in the tent alongside him with the fist-shook promise that ‘I’ll come over there!’ That he dealt with all of these laudably is perhaps to be expected. The overwhelming impression is a well-oiled comedic machine practiced to consistently deal with every eventuality in a uproarious if never spectacular fashion. Still, that uproarious-ness is very much there and very much worth a watch.