Not many comedy fans would turn down the chance to see the legendary Whose Line Is It Anyway? gang live. The show’s back at Edinburgh Festival Fringe after a previous sell-out run in 2017, and this night was no exception. Household names Clive Anderson, Stephen Frost, Phill Jupitus, Greg Proops and Suki Webster played to a packed out audience, along with Kirsty Newton perfectly pitching the action with humorous musical accompaniment on the piano.
Witnessing this show live brings an extra element to the magic
For many years, the Channel 4 TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? ran every Friday night, bringing hysterical scenes of improvised tomfoolery. If you did not watch the show in its '90s heyday, fear not, you're not missing out because you don't need to know what to expect. The content's made up on the spot and so witnessing this show live brings an extra element to the magic that the television run enjoyed. The chemistry between performers is integral to any improv show and this group have it in abundance. All four players make it look easy to produce off-the-cuff gags and although it seemed that Proops and Jupitus were vying for attention, they're actually working together, aware that it's better when the ensemble succeeds as a whole.
There’s not much cutting satire – this team are here to help us forget the world's woes – however, with USA comic Proops’ presence came some easy laughter as Proops declared "He’s not my ****ing president" when Anderson inevitably teased him about Donald Trump. Fans of the format will recognise familiar formulas – with the group acting out various scenarios in film styles based on suggestions from the audience: film noir, Disney and Tarantino. While the humour’s mostly slick, some setups fall flatter than others. Such is the nature of improv. The show’s rallied along with fun – but not forced – audience participation as a particular highlight saw two ladies called upon to move Frost and Proops around a ludicrous scenario. Suki Webster’s operatic solo song, devised on the spot about a Surrey man who works in the NHS, was also a triumph. The ‘Party Host' (guess who the guest is) game is always a crowd pleaser, and a climactic finish in the form of a musical shaped around audience member Ian’s dream to visit Bangkok brought the house down.
It’s the Fringe so, of course, we get just one hour which seems insufficient time spent in the presence of these talented comedy greats. We wanted more from this overall faultless slice of entertainment and the whooping laughs and applause from the audience served to prove that Whose Line Is It Anyway? could return year on year and still delight its crowds’ appetite for more.