Perhaps best known for his regular appearances on the hit improv show Whose Line is It Anyway?, Bay Area native Greg Proops is also an established stand-up comedian, voice actor and most recently, host of the popular podcast The Smartest Man In the World. Greg has appeared in a number of movies including The Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Kaena the Prophecy and Cyxork 7, as well as on television as the voice of Bob the Builder and on Nickelodeon's True Jackson VP. Greg continues to perform stand-up around the world while relentlessly recording new episodes of his hit podcast each week. Find out more about Greg and some of his comedic endeavors in our interview below.
When did you first realize you wanted to perform comedy for a living?
High school, but really college. I was trying to be an actor and a DJ, yes in those days that was a career. Then I started doing gigs. When we got paid to tell jokes that was it. Doing my own words and being treated like a grown up was the living end.
What made you decide to start podcasting?
I was asked by Matt and Ryan who I had made a couple of records with. They encouraged me. We decided no guests because everyone has guests. When I did the first one my wife told me this was the craft for me. So it stuck.
What do you like about podcasting that is different from stand-up comedy?
I find it is more from the heart for me. I can be sincere and serious and people will tolerate it. I can if I dare educate a bit.
Does podcasting offer any advantages for a performer over traditional stand-up comedy?
Direct communication with the people who want to hear you. Direct and instantaneous free downloading. No TV, no meetings, no yahoos in the crowd dictating where the show goes. Just a warm spontaneity and free atmosphere is what I want to brew up the jokes in.
What other podcasts do you listen to regularly?
I don't but I participate in Doug Benson's show and many others.
Are there any other artistic mediums you still feel like you would like to try?
I would love to be a bad guy in a show.
What comedians have had the most influence on you as a performer?
Warren Thomas, my pal who has passed. He was a genius of riffing and inventiveness. Truly one of a kind. Will Durst has always been a real mentor to me. Bobby Slayton I admire for his tenacity on stage. Paula Poundstone is so original. Bill Hicks was tremendously energizing as he was reckless and fearless and philosophical. Pryor is the greatest, period. My favorite is George Carlin as he is quite clear on where he is coming from. Lily Tomlin is unbelievably genial and warm.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to create their own podcast?
Be interesting. You are communicating very intimately with one person at a time. Try not to be a narrow-minded douche.
What was the last book you read?
I just reread The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth. Esoteric fun. I also just read Opening Day, the Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season by Jonathan Eig. I am currently reading about five books, The Black Sheep by Balzac, Twenty Years After by by Dumas, Civilization by Niall Ferguson, Cracking the Egyptian Code by Andrew Robinson, the story of Champollion who broke open how to decipher hieroglyphics, we just visited his tomb in Paris.
What do you appreciate most about libraries?
They are full of books and books are full of magic.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Brighid Gonzales is a Brisbane Library intern and library student.