Shows like Whose Line
March 13, 2011 8:34 PM   Subscribe

What are some shows like Whose Line is it Anyway?

I just finished working my way through all 8 seasons of the US version of Whose Line. I loved the amusing games, the spontaneity, and the way it was totally clear how much fun all the actors were having. I didn't really care for the musical elements, but on the whole I totally loved it.

What's a show that can scratch the same itch? I also love QI and the radio program I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, which have some of the same qualities. I've heard the british version isn't quite as good; is it still worth watching? What else might you recommend?
posted by Rinku to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
The British version of Whose Line is largely the same, even down to the performers. I suggest you give it a try.
posted by clorox at 8:40 PM on March 13, 2011

If anything the British version is superior to the American version. Clive Anderson is far better than Drew Carey.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:45 PM on March 13, 2011 [8 favorites]

well the British one is... British. So some of the humor is slightly out of sync for many American audience members. I like plenty of British humor and while I do like the US WLIIA, parts of me actually like the British one better. Which is justa long and winding way of saying "good" is a very subjective thing.. especially when you are talking about humor.
posted by edgeways at 8:48 PM on March 13, 2011

There will be a new show hosted by Drew Carey on the Game Show Network, called ImprovAGanza (starts April 11th). It currently has a YouTube channel. The show will feature a lot of the same actors from the American Whose Line.
posted by uniq at 8:52 PM on March 13, 2011

The Genre you are looking for is the Panel Show.

Generally speaking, the ones being presently produced all originate out of the UK, which means that their humor is of a somewhat local variety. The appeal to international audiences can vary from series to series (or even episode to episode).

And, of course (as a general rule of life), you should watch Craig Ferguson.
posted by schmod at 8:58 PM on March 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yep, panel shows are what they are. Some of the recent ones I like are:

Have I Got News For You
Mock the Week
8 out of 10 Cats
Never Mind the Buzzcocks (music themed)

These are pretty topical so are outdated quickly, but are still very funny. There are probably some better examples that people can provide. They're a dime a dozen in the UK.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:04 PM on March 13, 2011

I know about the panel show as a genre, but it seems like a relatively large one, albeit mostly in the UK. I love QI, great show, but I feel like half the contestants on that show have their own panel show. I'm looking for recommendations within that genre, I suppose, though I didn't want to narrow it down quite that far; I think what makes Whose Line funny is a little bit broader than just that genre.

Also, if you don't mind me asking, what do people like about Craig Ferguson? I've only seen a tiny bit, but I'm not sure what it is I'm supposed to be watching for, if that makes any sense. It just seemed like an average late night show.
posted by Rinku at 9:06 PM on March 13, 2011

I know you asked for television shows, but have you considered finding a local short-form improv troupe to attend in person? Whose Line is pure short form improv. My husband performs with such a troupe and seeks them out when we travel. When we were in your neck of the woods a couple years ago (if you are still living in the same vicinity that your profile indicates, and I am not mistaken about where that is), we saw Jet City Improv perform, and liked them a great deal.
posted by LyndsayMW at 9:06 PM on March 13, 2011

Who's Line is technically a theatresports show. I don't think there are many other TV shows like it, or shows that have much improvised comedy.

Theatresports, and improvised theatre generally, is mostly the domain of live theatre. There may be some shows going on near you. A quick Google search suggests that impro theatre is alive and well in Seattle.

Regarding panel shows, there is a plethora. On the British side, I would recommend BBC4's Friday Night Comedy Podcast - the News Quiz or the Now Show - both of which are current affairs panel shows comprised of comedians. The former is a traditional panel style, while the latter is more sketch based. Lots of UK politics though, so you might miss a few references.

If you like nerdy things, Chris Hardwick's Nerdist Podcast has a great bunch of funny people running it, and they interview lots of interesting pop culture personalities.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:06 PM on March 13, 2011

I'm currently on a small college campus in the middle of nowhere, so my live options are limited to student groups. I usually enjoy them when I go, but they can be pretty hit or miss.
posted by Rinku at 9:13 PM on March 13, 2011

I've never seen Whose Line is it Anyway, but if you're after improv-type things there's an Australian show called Thank God You're Here that has an improv premise. No idea how scripted it actually is, though.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 9:30 PM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Similarly, there was also an American remake of Thank God You're Here on NBC for a hot second.
posted by piratebowling at 10:08 PM on March 13, 2011

You might enjoy the NPR quiz show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. There are actual questions and answers, but it's mostly a chance for pundits to be funny.

I wish I could watch the British ones, especially QI. Don't know why BBC America doesn't carry it.
posted by booksherpa at 10:09 PM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've never seen Whose Line is it Anyway, but if you're after improv-type things there's an Australian show called Thank God You're Here that has an improv premise.

Despite having many fine improvisers on the cast, Thank God You're Here is not, in fact, improvised in the conventional sense. They have a script for every character except the guest star - he has to fill in the blanks provided, without knowing the script. It's basically live action Mad-Libs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:20 PM on March 13, 2011

I'm currently getting my fix by watching the British show Would I Lie to You?, which is awesome because you get to listen to David Mitchell rant about things.

Most of the episodes are on YouTube.
posted by Idle Curiosity at 11:04 PM on March 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, panel shows! If you like QI, it might be a good idea go back through a few episodes and see which panelists you really like, and go from there. I'm quite partial to Would I Lie To You (which I started watching after seeing David Mitchell in QI, heh.) You could also look at this FPP about the Big Fat Quiz of the Year, if you haven't seen it already.

On the radio side of things, I listen to Charlie Brooker's So Wrong It's Right on my commute sometimes, and it has had me in stitches on the bus.
posted by btfreek at 11:42 PM on March 13, 2011

You could check out the SNL "Best Of" compilations, particularly the Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, and Jimmy Fallon ones. They're not improv, but they're live, and a good percentage of sketches with those guys collapse into corpsing, which is a big part of the fun of Whose Line.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:58 AM on March 14, 2011

Seconding Have I Got News for You and Mock the Week, and definitely do check out the British version. The biggest plus it has in my mind is No Wayne, but YMMV. :]
posted by Gordafarin at 3:09 AM on March 14, 2011

Kind of a sideways answer, but if you ever find yourself in London you should check out the Comedy Store Players. A lot of the Whose Line performers were Comedy Store alumni, and it's basically like watching Whose Line on stage for 2 hours, with all the fun of audience participation. I saw the show a few weeks ago and it was incredible.
posted by Ted Maul at 4:13 AM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

You might enjoy the podcast Comedy Death Ray - it features a bunch of comedians playing games with a goodly amount of improv'd characters (Paul F. Thompkins as Dame Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber or Cake Boss, etc) thrown in for good measure.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:33 AM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Match Game.
posted by box at 4:37 AM on March 14, 2011

The BBC has been running a new series called Fast and Loose which is almost identical in format to Whose Line Is It Anyway. It's only got eight episodes so far, but it'll definitely scratch that Whose Line itch.
posted by dudekiller at 4:55 AM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try Just a Minute, a sort of sister radio programme to I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue. The panelists must speak for as long as possible on a given subject without hesitation, repetition or deviation.

Try The News Quiz, another Radio 4 panel show where the panelists make jokes about news stories.
posted by maryrosecook at 5:52 AM on March 14, 2011

From Seattle, it's Almost Live!
posted by Exonym at 6:26 AM on March 14, 2011

Match Game is awesome. Used to love it when I had cable. Charles Nelson Riley!

Also, I record most episodes of Craig Ferguson, and hang on to them till I watch them, sometimes months after they air. He's an adorably dirty "old" man (less old and less creepy than Letterman) with a skeleton robot and a very very acute wit. He doesn't take his mail segment seriously, he talks conversationally with his audience, and the interviews he conducts with his guests are informal and laid back, where it's usually two funny people bantering, rather than the guest shilling their project. Minimal music acts.

I like watching CF for the same reason I like watching most of my shows, I've developed a certain "audience friendship" with the characters over time and want to spend an hour hanging out with them while I fold laundry, relax, etc. Even when the current episode isn't top notch awesome, there's accumulated nostalgia and affection.
posted by itesser at 9:06 AM on March 14, 2011

Seconding Mock The Week. I, an American, found it hilarious even when I had no idea who they were referring to.
posted by tommasz at 9:25 AM on March 14, 2011

I came in here to say Fast and Loose. It's REALLY good.
posted by teraspawn at 12:24 PM on March 14, 2011

If you like Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, they're touring together (I saw them live, they were hilarious!) and they have a DVD coming out too.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:47 PM on March 14, 2011

The BBC has been running a new series called Fast and Loose which is almost identical in format to Whose Line Is It Anyway. It's only got eight episodes so far, but it'll definitely scratch that Whose Line itch.
posted by dudekiller at 6:55 AM on March 14

Yes it is very funny. I know you said you didn't like the musical parts of WLIIA, but if you need convincing of the hilarity of Fast and Loose, check out one of their "literal interpretive dance" clips on You Tube. The Sideways Scenes and Double Speak are great fun, too.
posted by soelo at 2:37 PM on March 15, 2011

In the podcast world, Comedy Death Ray, while not specifically theater-gamesy, often has comedians and improv folk come on as characters, including Paul F Thompkins as Ice T.
posted by softlord at 1:47 PM on March 18, 2011

Tangential, but if you can you should try joining one of those campus improv groups - it's fun to watch but it's even more fun when you're actually doing it, and you get a greater appreciation of good improv if you know what's going on behind the scenes.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:14 AM on April 1, 2011

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