The U.S. version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? was a popular part of the ABC lineup from 1998-2007. Featuring a cast that included Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady, the show introduced improv comedy to millions of viewers. Tonight (July 16), Whose Line makes its return to TV, with a new version airing on The CW hosted by Aisha Tyler. The panel of comedians — Stiles, Mochrie, Brady, and a fourth guest comic — remains the same.
One might wonder how a half-hour comedy series starring people that are all over 30 might fare on a network that usually consists of drama for young people. When we spoke to Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie at a premiere party for the new show, Stiles told us that the younger audience is their current audience, when the stars take Whose Line on live tour, as they have for the last several years. While admitting that he thinks the network was a little bit nervous at first, they quickly realized there would be a young following. “The first show we shot, the audience holds 350. We filled that. They turned a bunch of people away, and then they opened another studio with TV’s in it for people to watch,” Stiles told us. Mochrie noted that the audience does seem to get younger, as a new generation is catching up on the original series online.
The CW audience will also be happy to see that the list of guest celebrities that come and play is made up of popular people who star in shows that go well with the 18-49 demographic. Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead shows up, as does Kevin McHale from Glee. CW favorites including Hart Of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel and The Vampire Diaries’ Candice Accola are also among the celebrity guests who take their turn at improv. Mochrie confirms that all of the celebrity guests seem ready and willing for whatever is thrown that way.
“The best thing about them is, I guess when they decide they’re coming on the show, they decide they’re going to commit to it. And none more so than Richard Simmons,” Colin Mochrie says, referring to a guest from the original show.
“We’re not there to embarrass anybody, so we do everything we can to make them look good, too. We’re not going to try to be funnier than them,” Stiles adds.
When it comes to guests in the new season, Mochrie points out Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead as a highlight. “Lauren Cohan was pretty good, because she was really into it, and she kicked Wayne in the chest,” he says.
“Any time we see that, that’s fantastic,” Ryan jokes, before pointing out that all of the guests have been good.
Although Whose Line is on a new network, Ryan Stiles insists that not very much has changed, with host Aisha Tyler being the only major difference.
“The set looks the same. Laura’s there, Linda’s there… I mean, it’s all the same. The crowd is even set up exactly where they were,” he assures. As for former host Drew Carey… might he show up at some point on the new series? “I don’t know. Maybe. It would be nice. But you know, he’s a class act. The first day, before we even shot, he sent everybody flowers. He sent Aisha flowers, and said ‘have a great time, good luck.’ He’s a class act all the way,” Stiles says.
Now that we know what we’re getting into, how about the future… more specifically, in success, could we be getting more Whose Line after this run? “It’s up to the audience, I’m guessing,” Mochrie says. “For ten years, they’ve been saying bring back Whose Line, so it’s time for them to sort of pony up and watch us.”
Whose Line Is It Anyway? premieres tonight at 8PM (ET) on The CW.