There are few minds in stand-up comedy more complex than Greg Proops’. Sometimes it’s a goofy place from where big words are expelled in the name of quick laughs. At other moments — now more than ever — a snarled path of incisive and wholly hilarious sociopolitical commentary takes over; it’s also a place where Hillary Clinton has a huge penis.
No doubt, you’ve seen comedian Greg Proops on the wildly popular improv show Whose Line is it Anyway? alongside the likes of Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie and Wayne Brady. And while Proops’ quick wit serves the show well, it’s the 48-year-old veteran comedian’s stand-up which allows us an in depth look inside his brilliantly bitter, dagger-sharp mind. This is where the true Proops experience takes place.
Always evolving, always looking for new ways to make his audience think and laugh, Proops hosts his monthly Chat Show at Largo in Los Angeles as well as the Maron Proops Experiment, where he and comedian Marc Maron dissect themselves and life live on stage: “We just argue with each other; I think that’s the whole format,” says Proops.
Punchline Magazine recently did our own chatting with Proops. Belly up to your monitor and drink down the results.
If you’re not beat on the subject, I’d love to talk a little politics with you.
No. We’re just picking it up.
Who are you voting for?
Well, I’m a Hillraiser and a Hillblazer.
Yeah, I heard that someplace but I wasn’t sure if you were kidding or not.
No, no I’m not kidding.
So tell me why.
Well, because I want her to be president. I think she’ll be a fantastic president. But right now here in LA there’s Obama-mania going on.
Yeah, I bet.
It reminds me of when the Lakers won three championships in a row. All of a sudden you started seeing Lakers’ flags on cars. Basically, all the people who come up to me and tell me they don’t watch TV so they sound smart in a conversation are the ones going Obama on me. I guess he’s like Ralph Nader for people who hate women.
That’s my take on it right this second. I am, of course, going to vote for anybody but the white guy.
When I tour, I go all over the country to the redneck nooks and crannies. And I’m here to tell you Obama’s not popular in the rich, vast Christian heartland. There is not going to be no black man president. I don’t mean to crush everyone’s little dreams.
It’s good, though. I actually think it’s really, really healthy. I’m finally getting what I was promised in the ’70s as a teen, which is a black man and a white woman running against each other with no white guy competition in sight. So for me it’s like a dream come true.
Yeah, it’s a good predicament to be in.
Yeah, all of the white guys on the Democratic side fell by the wayside and we’re left with a black man and a white woman against apparently the cast of the Mayflower on the other side. So to me it’s just exciting. Although, it’s fun to bag on Obama’s supporters. Honestly, Scarlett Johansson? If it’s good enough for ScarJo and that keen political insight, why wouldn’t I sign up for it? That’s the problem with being a Democrat. There’s a lot of people on your team that you don’t want on your team.
All of a sudden you got Woody Harrelson mouthing off and you’re like, ‘Don’t, don’t, don’t, you’re not helping us.’ But to see the other side, what are McCain’s platforms– less jobs, more war, or something? And Huckabee doesn’t believe there are dinosaurs. And he’s got Ric Flair stumping for him. And the people who vote for Mike Huckabee– how desperate do you have to be? They live in a world of fear where there’s Mexicans who are literally coming over a wall and dinosaurs morphed into people. Heaven knows what’s going on in their minds.
The Huckaboomers are like out of their minds. They think he’s going to build a wall of bibles that’s going to keep the Negro from attacking them or whatever it is they think is going to happen. I’m just excited. I just don’t want the Democrats to screw this one up.
It’s actually kind of heartening. Four years ago, I was shocked to see that the Democrats just fucked up. I thought surely the country was not going to go for another four years of this. I was wrong. So I’m heartened to see that people are so appalled that, like you said, there’s a woman and a black dude. I don’t think that would’ve happened four years ago. So that’s got to be proof we’re coming to our senses, aren’t we?
Yes it is. And that all the things that the scaredy-cat people do – stamp their feet and wring their hands and pull their hair and go, — Mexicans, abortion, Negroes, and women are scary, and fags are going to get married and have sex over your bible and whatnot. All of those things are going to happen because it’s called progress. So yes, that’s progress, that a woman is running for president; that we’re discussing her, and that she’s clearly, fantastically the hard ass of all of them.
She has the biggest dick. And even Republicans would admit she’s got a big dick and that’s what makes her so scary. She’s ruthless and she’ll do what she has to do. Mike Huckabee can say that he’s going to build a wall and that God’s going to save us and queers are subhuman and all that jazz. But in our lifetime, we’re going to see everything change. There’s going to be gay marriage. We may even see peace become popular.
Actually peace is really popular. The thing is, as you know, the media reports nothing true. And they don’t even ask what the public thinks ever. They always say, oh the mainstream, it follows what most people like. No it doesn’t because Bush and Cheney are polling lower than any human had ever polled that have held executive office. Therefore, you would think the news would reflect that but by bagging on them constantly, but it doesn’t.
There’s plenty of conservatives that say the media is completely liberally biased.
Yeah, of course. When do you here stories about how great peace is? When have you heard a story about how the wars are draining us dry? We keep hearing about the recession. Would anyone like to know why we’re having a recession?
I think you can say the two giant wars. And yet I go places and people still cheer for war because the media just shoves it up our butt. And to be honest, Bush and Cheney won. This is what they wanted. As far as destroying the country and dividing the world, that was just a happy byproduct of their plan. They’re in Iraq and that’s what they wanted.
Whereas the rest of the country hates the war and wishes they were gone. Bush said it the other day that this election is an important one and I was like, Yeah, it is because we’ve all been playing it out in our minds for the last two years. We’re so done with you; everybody’s already written you out of the script.
The thing that scares me about Hillary is not Hillary. It’s the amount of hatred the other side has for her. They don’t have that hatred for Obama.
No, not on paper. But the voting booth is a very sacrosanct place. People look into their souls. Let me put it this way to explain the casual racism of America. When people vote in groups like a caucus, they don’t want to be racist in front of their friends, so he wins a lot of caucuses.
When they get into the booth all alone it may be a different matter, that’s all I’m saying. And I don’t want it to be that way. I want everything to be egalitarian and groovy. And I do agree with you, they will come out for her.
But I also think that she can handle that. And I don’t think America’s heart sings when they see John McCain with the chubby cheeks stumbling around up there. And he’s a little old– and frankly, kind of crazy. The temper. I don’t see him as a big winner. But as I say, she’s got a huge cock so I don’t think she’s too scared of them. With her, you’re going to get Bill and that’s what makes everybody freak out.
They’re the smartest kids in class and Bill was a successful president. There was an economic boom during his presidency. And they’ll never forgive him for that– that he did what Reagan wanted to do. He cut welfare, balanced the budget. We made some money; we weren’t in too many wars. They’ll just never forgive him for that.
Being popular and good looking is not a big winner with the Huckaboos of the world, It’s too intimidating to them. Being sophisticated at all, knowing what you’re talking about– that’s intimidating. Look at this president. He just rattles on about nonsense. He said peace and prosperity were on the line in the next election. But there is no peace and there is no prosperity. So I don’t know what he’s talking about.
We had those things when he came in, but he fucked it in the ass and now he’s telling us that’s what’s at stake. Well I don’t know what you call peace but two wars going on isn’t peace, and a recession is not prosperity. It’s past Orwell. Orwell said you could hold two different ideas simultaneously, that’s what double think is. We’re into, like, quadruple think here. He said Cheney was the best Vice President of all time in public.
Well, what is he supposed to say?
Well, not the truth clearly.
I guess he could say nothing.
If you look up Cheney’s numbers, I don’t think there’s ever been a more unpopular public figure. And I’m not kidding you. I go to the redneck places. In the redneck places they will laugh at Cheney jokes when they won’t laugh at Bush jokes.
Oh yes. All you have to do is his face. He’s like John D. Rockefeller at the turn of the last century. He’s an emblem of corporate evil. He should be wearing a top hat and walk on a staircase of Negroes to his carriage.
Oh, I’m edgy.
Yeah, I am extremely saucy. I bring the fucking truth here. I don’t write one-liners about my career and my dick and shit.
So no poopy jokes, either?
No but someone said I was ‘Proops-in-your-pants funny’ a couple of weeks ago and I was just like, ‘Oh you got to be kidding me. What am I, four?’ I’m the fucking esteemed dean of comedy. Fuck away with the Proops in your pants. The is a writer. She’s like a real writer who I thought I liked and I just thought, ‘Oh golly. Reach, dig deeper.’ As they said on The Larry Sanders Show, ‘Back to your hutch and cogitate.’
Let’s talk about your comedy a little bit. Surely, a lot of people come out to see you for the first time and they know you mostly from Whose Line. Do you find that people are surprised by the type of comedy you do?
Sometimes. They’re probably a little disappointed and heartbroken that they thought I was going to be cute and innocuous like Whose Line and then, of course, I’m bitter and poisonous but with a veneer of hilarious, well thought out satire of course underpinning the entire thing like a giant foundation that I’ve built Jerusalem on.
But I think there’s also some amount of delight when people come out and go, ‘Oh you’re different than I thought you were going to be. I thought you were going to be boring.’ I don’t think you can please everybody, so I’m over that. I had a drunk lady last year go, ‘I don’t like you no more.’ Those were her exact words. And so I was just devastated, of course. She did not like me no more. Because when I was her TV friend and she’d get to be drunk at home and it was funny, but then when I had an opinion and she was drunk in public, not so funny for her.
I’m sure there’s plenty of people that enjoy Whose Line and your stand-up.
I like Whose Line. That’s why I’m able to make a living. So I’m all for Whose Line. I play with those guys all the time.
Do you prefer improv or stand-up over the other?
Well when I do improv there’s a lot of dead weight on stage. I got to carry those fuckers. Also when I’m by myself I could say what I want. When you’re in a group, you’re in a band and you got to play the songs that the band wants to play. And it’s just a different dynamic. I can’t take time out from the middle of an improv show to give you my poisoned opinion on politics for 25 minutes. But at my stand-up show I have nothing but time to do that. I have the conch when I do stand-up.
But I really love doing the improv. I think the improv’s really vital because it’s so immediate, but also don’t have a responsibility to the Whose Line fans to be milk toast when I do stand-up. My only responsibility is to myself to be funny as I can be.
For more info, check out gregproops.com.