Saturday, August 18, 2007

Keeping Improv Shows fresh

Drew Carey is taking over The Price is Right which I think is going to be incredibly hard to do because so many fans might not want to watch if Bob Barker's not there. I actually stopped watching Price is Right when Rod Roddy died (I wasn't really that regular of a watcher) because I felt it wouldn't be the same, so you can imagine how I'd feel about Bob Barker retiring. Now that he's gone, I kind of want to watch it while Barker is still there in reruns before Drew Carey takes over.

Currently, reruns are playing and I'm not sure why they couldn't have let the reruns go on for ever instead of hiring a new host. If 100 episodes is an ideal number for syndication, couldn't you easily get away with running reruns of The Price is Right for years and still retain the level of excitement? I highly doubt that anyone is going to turn off the show because a viewer is going to say, "Ehhh, I've already seen this episode" or that enough people are going to do so to make it unmarketable. The only factor I can see interfering with this is that after a while inflation is going to significantly alter the prices so that it might be absurd to guess on the prices as they are currently listed. From what I read on, the show also had problems with rerunning a particular episode of Price is Right when a trip to New Orleans was featured in the Showcase Showdown within a couple months of Hurricane Katrina occurring.

Anyway, I was also reading in an interview for Time Magazine that Drew Carey was asked if he wishes that he could still be on Whose Line is it Anyway, and he said "absolutely. I would have liked to do that show forever." I liked that show a lot and regularly attend shows at my local improv theater, so I'm somewhat familiar with that format and that got me thinking about how it seemed unlikely that a show with no scripts, and ever changing characters and situations could ever jump the shark and become stagnant. Carey attributes the show's cancellation to misguided business suits. I did used to love the show but I do kind of think that it kind of ran stagnant because scenarios weren't mixed up enough and characters kind of sunk into familiar roles. Wayne Brady, Colin Mochre and Ryan Stiles were regulars and they got pigeonholed into the same scenarios: With Brady doing the singing and Stiles and Mochre being the voiceovers on the infomercial sketch. Or when they did the superhero sketch, Wayne Brady would end the scenario the same way and often be at the end of the line. When they did wierd newscasters, party quirks or the dating game, the one guest member whether Chip Esten, Greg Proops, or Brad Sherwood would always be the straight guy which definitely presented us from seeing any variety. I also felt that some games like A-B-C alphabet, 2-line vocabulary, bartender, or the ones with notecards were highly underused.

There was also a really brilliant improv show called "Thank God You're Here" that allowed us to see comic actor's put to the most basic of tests: They were put in a scene without any clue as to what it was until they entered into it and had to create comedy out of it. It was a really great premise, but there were some things that kept that stagnant too. I wish someone from NBC sent a memo to the show like this:

#1. Either replace David Alan Grier or have him come up with more original banter

#2. Have Dave Foley either a) be more funny or b) deliver some actual useful criticism or judgement. He was one of the most annoying game show host/judges i had ever seen. In the age of Simon Cowell, David Hasselhoff, Morgan Piers, and the judges from all those other shows, why does Foley have to be so politically correct.

#3. When you have the good actors like Fred Willard, Tom Green, George Takei, or Kurtwood Smith don't cut off the skit and ring the buzzer early

#4. It seems like the whole time, the stars were confined to having to conform to the boxes that the other actors tried to squeeze them in. Encourage the stars who are able to do this, to mess up the actors and try to catch them off their guard. Look up Josh Lawson and Thank God You're Here on to see what i'm talking about. Encourage the actors to blend in a little with the stars, because the way it worked, it could at times seem scripted