Follow TV Tropes


Trivia / Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Go To

  • Adored by the Network: An unusual case. The show's ratings were never that good, and ABC would almost certainly have canceled it, but it had two things going for it: a ridiculously low production cost for even a single taping, which over about 6 hours could produce anywhere from 3-4 shows, and it was going up against ratings juggernaut Friends - in a rare moment of insight, ABC executives realized that nothing they could put on in that timeslot would do any better, really, so they might as well put something cheap on. Also, being one of the most unique and different shows on at the time would bring in at least some viewers, as well as the "anything but Friends" crowd.
  • Banned Episode:
    • The "Wil Wheaton" episode was original taped in early 2015, and was supposed to air the following summer, but instead was pre-empted. The episode didn't air until summer of 2017, although it was shown overseas. It's never been stated why the episode was pulled from airing, but some fans speculate it's because of the Helping Hands game where Will uses a prop gun like he's about to commit suicide at one point (he's supposed to be acting like a hostage taker), and CW may have thought that humor was too dark for the show. Even Ryan remarks in-game, "That seems harsh."
    • UP Network (which began airing reruns of the US version in 2017), tends to skip the Kathy Griffin episodes, due to the controversy surrounding her jokes about Donald Trump and the infamous Implied Death Threat she made (as a joke). The fact that the network is aimed at conservative Christians, a group that is among the staunchest of Trump supporters, is most likely the major reason for this.
  • Advertisement:
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Whenever Star Wars is parodied or referenced, it's inevitable that the cast will say "Luke, I am your father" instead of the correct "No. I am your father."
  • The Cast Showoff: Wayne was given a showcase game to display his musical talents (usually "Song Styles" or "Greatest Hits") in virtually every episode of the US version. (He also sang the theme song to another ABC series at the time, The Weekenders.) This practice is actually Older Than They Think; Mike McShane got the same treatment during his run on the UK version (though his game was "Bartender"). Chip was also a regular in "Bartender" in the UK—it became "his" game when they moved to the US, until they dropped it—but he usually sang along with Wayne as well, especially in "Greatest Hits".
  • Colbert Bump: Inverted, to an extent. Stephen Colbert's original appearance was in 1999, long before The Colbert Report began and before The Daily Show really took off. Rather fittingly, Stephen played the anchor on "Weird Newscasters."
    • The Scott Porter episode led to one for Hero Clix.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer:
    • A rare example where an error was shown in an episode: Before one episode, Drew pulled out a newspaper which declared Colin was the host of the show, and congratulated him.
      Drew: (to Colin) Don't you ever pull that stuff on me again!
    • In the revival, Aisha Tyler states that special guest Chris Lee was part of the originating cast of Hamilton. While he did star in the show, he was part of the Chicago production, not the original Broadway cast.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Jim Sweeney admitted a few years ago on MySpace that he never really cared much for Whose Line. He explained that while it was fun to do, true improv should never be seen more than once, as would be the case for live shows. He said that Whose Line loses its quality if you watch reruns because you already know what's going to happen, and there's no spontaneity.
    • Richard Vranch also has mixed feelings about Whose Line? He mostly feels he was wasted on the show as he too is an improvisor, but he was only ever used for doing the music. He actually kept begging the producers during almost his entire run to let him be an actual performer for a few episodes, but they never did.
    • Ryan Stiles has made no secret of his disdain for the hoedowns, openly mocking them on the show.
  • Defictionalization: Of a sort. It was only a matter of time until someone compiled a bunch of Hoedowns together to make "A Very Special Three-Hour Hoedown".
  • Deleted Scene:
    • All of seasons 7 and 8 of the U.S. version are merely cobbled together from old footage not used in previous episodes. As the tapings can take 2-3 hours, it's easy to get a half hour of footage multiple times from them. That said, there are also deleted scenes and games on the season 1 DVD sets, which didn't appear in any proper episodes.
    • Parodied in-show with the game "Scenes Cut From a Movie".
  • Distanced from Current Events: Actually touched on during the UK run during the World's Worst "person to be president of the world during an intergalactic crisis", recorded just after the death of Richard Nixon:
    Clive: "It's topical now, but it'll be great in six months' time when this goes out..."
    Tony: "But he'll still be dead!"
  • Dueling Shows: The ABC version aired against Friends, which Drew Carey made frequent references to.
  • Edited for Syndication: The U.K. version is edited for time when broadcast in America, due to more commercials on most U.S. stations.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Inevitable, due to the nature of the show. Many of the reactions from the performers are unexpected.
    • Just one of many examples: Colin seemed genuinely surprised when Ryan kissed him in the "Narrate" about The Maltese Burger.
    • You can usually spot one guy who isn't Colin get caught unawares during Colin's "crap" declarations in Hollywood Director.
    • Perhaps one of the best instances was when Chip jumped onto Ryan's back and Colin actually was yelling and wasn't just acting, since Ryan has a bad back.
    • Richard Simmons' appearance on the show caught Greg Proops by complete surprise.
    • The Irish Drinking Song ends with Colin delivering the last line, which was usually a bizarre non-sequitur. It's a good thing it was the last line of the game, because the other three guys would always break up in laughter.
  • Executive Meddling: During a playing of "Title Sequence", Drew asked for the names of two unlikely roommates; he took the suggestions Bill Cosby and Adolf Hitler. Almost instantly, a director came up to Drew and informed him that he had to use something else in place of Hitler. Drew reluctantly settled for "Bill Cosby and the Insurance Salesman". Amusingly, the remainder of the episode consisted of the cast mocking the director's decision by working in jabs about Hitler. In particular, Ryan's hoedown about directors (where he said the director of Whose Line "should sprout a moustache and move to Germany!") received a standing ovation.
    • Both Mike McShane and Tony Slattery have said that they were both effectively kicked off the show, because creator Dan Patterson was trying very hard to sell the show to US producers, to the point that he was caving to almost every demand to "Americanize" it, and Mike and Tony didn't appeal to most American executives.
  • Fan Community Nickname: Whosers.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • To separate it from its British counterpart in discussions, fans dubbed the first American series "Drew's Line Is It Anyway?"
    • Due to the way the stage is built, the four seats are on an elevated stage right in front of the actual floor, creating an area that one could hop down and then disappear from view by ducking low enough. The performers learned a long time ago to utilize this for certain gags, leading to the area being called the "mosh pit" (despite an actual mosh pit normally going in the front).
  • Fandom Nod: Before announcing the return of the Hoedown, Aisha acknowledged that the fans were waiting for it.
  • Hostility on the Set: Famously, John Sessions was not liked by much of the UK cast. Leading to a rather biting Take That! in a Series 2 episode during "World's Worst Person To Be Stuck In A Lift With":
    Paul Merton: "Hello, my name is John Sessions."
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
    • After Phil LaMarr and Debra Wilson appeared in the last UK season, we've had more MADtv alumnus like Nicole Parker on Trust Us with Your Life, and now Keegan Michael Key on the 2013 revival.
    • Did you know Aisha Tyler and Gary Anthony Williams were both in The Boondocks?
    • Before appearing on Whose Line?, Gary was in an indie comedy film called Take 22, which also featured Archie Hahn from the British version.
    • Jack Osbourne appeared here after being in Trust Us with Your Life once. Sadly they didn't get Kelly at the same time.
    • Happens again when Aisha brings in Sheryl Underwood from her other show The Talk (of special note, another co-host from that show is Jack and Kelly's mom Sharon Osbourne!)
    • One time they get Wendi McLendon-Covey, whom Ryan actually knows in Real Life, making this trope literal!
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • U.K. version: Only the first two seasons have been released on DVD (and, ironically, only in the US), and there's been no news since.
    • U.S. version: Zig-zagged. Repeats no longer air on ABC Family but are now on the UP Network, a network usually known for Christian programming (so much so it actually airs a content disclaimer before the show airs, bleeps even the mildest swears, and blurs "revealing" outfits), and the vast majority of the series hasn't been released on DVD and there's been no news of further DVD releases in several years. On the plus side, nearly every episode of the US version has been made available for streaming through the CW website.Note  The series is also now available on HBO Max, though the same episodes that were absent on CW Seed are also missing on HBO Max.
    • It's very difficult to locate an uncut copy of the UK Season 9 premiere episode from 1997. That episode included a playing of Newsflash, with a nudist colony as the subject. For years, Comedy Central and BBC America censored that game out, and that edited version is what most fans own a copy of. If you happen to have this episode with that game intact, hold on to it to help your fellow Whosers.
      • This episode is definitely available on YouTube as of winter 2018.
  • Missing Episode: The entire second half of the eighth season has never seen the light of day on American television. Also, there's still enough unaired footage and material left to make at least another half season.
    • Averted with the fourth revival season, which starts off with a lot of unused stuff from the previous one.
    • While Comedy Central aired all seasons of the U.K. version at some point or another, they gradually reduced airing of the earlier seasons. By the early 2000's, when CC would air Monday night marathons, they had limited themselves to showing pretty much just seasons 8-10 over and over.
    • As mentioned in Keep Circulating the Tapes above, 35 of the first U.S. series episodes are unavailable on both CW Seed and HBO Max, including the fan favorite Robin Williams episode. It is unknown why they are absent, making it all the more frustrating.
  • Name's the Same: Wayne goes through a variant of this trope with special guest Florence Henderson, better known as Mrs. Brady.
    • It's not till the third revival season when they finally have Wayne doing an impression of Lil Wayne.
    • Interestingly, Wayne scores the trifecta in the fourth revival season with special guest Alfonso Ribeiro. Did you know Wayne's middle name is Alphonso?
  • One for the Money; One for the Art: Colin Mochrie is a proud Canadian. His income from this show allows him to go back home and take lower-paying jobs in Canadian productions and try to give them a boost because US and UK audiences might come across them while looking through his filmography.
  • Old Shame:
    • Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie have said they don't watch their earliest appearances on the British edition because of how awkward and unfunny they were.
    • Kathy Greenwood admitted she wasn't up to par in some of her appearances, revealing that she was a new mother and was thus exhausted during some of her tapings.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Mike often did female roles, long before Colin became known for it.
    • Speaking of Colin, you do not cast the balding middle-aged man as the romantic female lead. One can only wonder why.
  • Produced By Castmember: Given the success of The Drew Carey Show, as well as their clout, both Drew Carey and Ryan Stiles were executive producers on the original U.S. version of show. Later still, with the revival of the U.S. version, all three of the regular performers (Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady) each receive individual executive producer credits.
  • Prop Recycling: The 2013 revival has the plasma screen and Sideways Scene set pulled directly from Fast and Loose/Trust Us with Your Life.
  • Reality Subtext: Mike returned for one last appearance in UK season 9, and during "Weird Newscasters" his character was "fired and it's his last day at work".
  • Recycled Script: Particularly in the 7th and 8th seasons, it was not uncommon for the show to present alternate versions of the same scenes with different dialogue, recycling the intro for the game in question. For instance, the Greatest Hits about "Songs of the International Spy" was first done in season 4, only to return again in season 8, using unused footage to craft a different scene of the same subject.
  • Rerun: The U.K. version saw reruns on Comedy Central and BBC America, while the U.S. version was rerun on ABC Family.
  • She Also Did: Aisha Tyler was a panelist on The Talk from 2011 to 2017.
  • Star-Making Role: This program essentially launched Wayne Brady's career.
  • Sleeper Hit: The U.S. version wasn't expected to be a huge hit; after all, it aired opposite of ratings juggernaut Friends. Nevertheless, Whose Line gained unexpected popularity. ABC didn't really have a major reason to remove it from the schedule if it received at least modest ratings, given its relatively low production costs.
  • Society Marches On:
    • Pretty much everything indicated by a TV-PG rating evolved in the decade between American installments, necessitating the use of the word "partner" in place of "girlfriend", and paving the way for a more lighthearted attitude toward dirtier jokes. Also, the cast is more diverse than ever before.
    • There used to be a Take That! or two to the idea of boy bands - nowadays, boy bands have grown into such a huge thing that the guys have sidestepped a lot of fan backlash by learning to differentiate them (Colin even knows about that one guy who left One Direction!)
  • Streisand Effect:
    • The Cosby/Hitler incident. When the sketch was prohibited right there on the stage (Hitler had to be changed to "insurance salesman"), the cast retaliated by bringing up Hitler as much as they could during the rest of the episode.
    • Similarly, whenever Drew warns the performers not to come near his desk (usually during "Weird Newscasters" or "Let's Make a Date"), it's near impossible to resist.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Some games were repeated because of some technical mistake like the music synthesizer suddenly doubling its tempo. Wayne's bemused attempts to keep up were too funny to leave out of the official version.
    • After the playing of "Showstopping Number" set in a factory, Drew threw to commercial, but instead of fading to black like usual, the camera kept rolling while Drew laughed hard at the skit he just watched. This "bonus footage" goes on for a good fifteen seconds.
    • "Irish Drinking Song" is usually played with all four guys just standing around and maybe waving their mugs, but in the revival series, Gary Anthony Williams apparently decided to liven it up by dancing around like it was a church revival. For all intents and purposes it worked.
    • Done literally in one "Song Styles" with NFL player Vernon Davis - Ryan knots up a handkerchief into a flag to throw onto the stage for Wayne to deal with.
  • Typecasting: Colin Mochrie has a varied career in his native Canada, but he's known almost exclusively as an improv comedian to UK and US audiences through this show.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: In retrospect, it's pretty obvious what era the first U.S. version came from: Between the Monica Lewinsky jokes, the Firestone tires controversy, and Blair Witch and Jar Jar Binks references, it definitely has its dated jokes even though the show overall is still quite hilarious. The UK version has aged even worse, as they occasionally referenced Jimmy Savile, which is probably jarring to most British viewers today, and the few Americans who know who Savile is, and the serious scandal that came out regarding him.
    • In the 2013 series, one of Ryan's jokes is about Mitt Romney saying he doesn't care about that 47%. Yep, you can tell it was taped very soon after the 2012 election.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Drew Carey merely wanted to produce the show, after learning about Ryan Stiles and Kathy Kinney's improv background in The Drew Carey Show and finding the UK version. The network wasn't interested until Drew offered to host, giving the show significant name recognition.
    • Steve Carell, Steve Martin and Mike Meyers auditioned for the British version, but were turned down.
    • Wayne Brady said in a radio interview that he really hoped for Stephen Colbert to become a semi-regular 4th Seater like Greg and Brad, but the producers were not impressed by his one appearance.
    • According to Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson auditioned for Whose Line, but was turned down. However, the producers didn't turn her down because they didn't think she was funny. She was turned down because Fry had already brought over Tony Slattery, Hugh Laurie (for the radio version), and Peter Cook (all old friends of Fry's from Cambridge), and the producers didn't want people to think they were only letting people associated with Fry to be on the show. Fry has stated this is one of the reasons he quit Whose Line after the first televised season.
    • Anytime that a suggestion isn't used in "Film, TV & Theater Styles", whether it be excised in the editing room or simply not selected by Drew.
    • Nearly all of the episodes in the first U.S. series featured Ryan, Colin, and Wayne, leaving only one rotating seat. This meant certain regular performers never worked together on that series. For example, Greg Proops never worked with Kathy Greenwood; Brad Sherwood never worked with Chip Esten, etc.
  • Word of God:
    • In the "Party Quirks" where Ryan played a guy who noticed a hole in the wall which gave him a full view of the women's locker room, a good chunk of the skit was merely Greg and Ryan with their faces up close to the camera, pretending to look into the locker room. Colin revealed that because of this, he and Wayne were stuck just waiting in the background with nothing to do, as Greg wasn't paying attention to them (and thus, couldn't guess their quirks). To combat boredom (and also to give the audience something else to laugh at), Colin and Wayne mimed playing cards. You can catch a brief glimpse of this when Ryan and Greg get out of the way of the camera for a second.
    • In an interview with Colin, he once mentioned he and Wayne had met some fans the day before a taping. This included a nice older lady named Lee, who remarked on what a "nice Christian boy" Wayne was. Fast-forward to the taping, and Lee is the lucky lady chosen for a game of Song Styles. And the style Wayne must sing to her as? Singing strip-o-gram. The game itself is hilarious, but the real fun is watching in the background as the normally calm Colin loses it repeatedly as Wayne's song gets more and more inappropriate, since he knows about Lee's comment from the day before.
    • In an interview with Debra McGrath (Colin's wife), she mentions auditioning for the U.S. version of the show, when the producers were looking for another female performer to fill the void left behind by Denny Siegel, though ultimately was rejected (partly to avoid the obvious nepotism of having both Colin and his wife appearing on the show). She and Colin both then suggested the producers audition Kathy Greenwood, which they did, but she too was rejected, so Colin and Deb kept badgering the producers into hiring Kathy, until they reluctantly gave in, and although Kathy's second audition passed muster, the producers decided to keep her from participating in certain games, like Hoedown, or Irish Drinking Song.

List of games on Whose Line Is It Anyway?:

Two Players

  • Expert: From the UK run. The audience picks an obscure subject, then one player acts as the interviewer speaking to the other player, the 'expert' on the subject.
    • This simplistic format also spawned similar games like Interview (the audience names a fictional character to be interviewed) and Book Writer (the audience names an obscure subject that the 'interviewee' has authored a book on).
  • Expert Translation: also from the UK run but not to be confused with Expert above. Using the same concept behind Foreign Film Dub (see below), the audience is poached for a foreign language and an obscure subject instead, and one player is the 'expert from overseas', lecturing about the subject as the other player 'translates' for him.
  • Explanation: again from the UK run. Two players are given a subject to explain or discuss from the audience, but as predetermined characters - Kirk teaching Spock how to use a toaster, or 2 preschool kids explaining God, etc.
    • Its predecessor was named Couples instead, with the difference that 1. the players were just given a generic / mundane situation, and 2. they acted as more than one pair of characters, called out with each buzz, giving them about one line each before switching.
  • Film Noir: Performers act out a Film Noir scene at a location picked out by the audience.
  • Impossible Mission / Mission Improbable: Performers spoof an Impossible Mission for a mundane task.
  • Infomercial: Performers spoof home shopping infomercials, using a box of props to try and sell a "miracle product" to cure a personal problem suggested by the audience.
    • The UK version of this game, named Home Shopping instead, involves just two props and a nonexistent one suggested by the audience. Performers had to make up whatever function they were intended for.
  • Moving People: Two players are expected to act out a scene with one major handicap - they do not move at all unless moved by two audience members.
  • Scene With An Audience Member: two players and one randomly picked audience member act out a scene. Two of the playings featured the audience members improvising with the performers, but the other two featured pre-written lines for the audience member, similar to "Whose Line", and were cued to say them by Ryan or Colin. You'd think this was a wish-fulfillment game of sorts, but the game fell flat after four sessions because of some nasty stage fright on the audience members' part.
  • Secret: Two players act out a generic drama scene, but the audience has designated, along with the setting, a 'location' where something has been kept secret - one player chances upon it halfway through the scene, whereupon the action centres around 'it'.
    • The revival series updates this to Mk II, by introducing a physical prop as the secret, hidden in a convenient box before The Reveal.
  • Sound Effects: This game went through several different formats.
    • One player performs a scene silently, while a second provides sound effects (included dialogue-ish sounds) from off-stage. These relied mainly on how the player doing sound effects reacted to the performer's miming, and how the performer reacted to the impromptu sound effect. In the US run it almost always involved Colin on mime and Ryan on mic, leading to a series of re-used gags: for example, Colin's vehicle ("played" by Ryan) always failed to start... only for it to kick into gear once he gave up and careen off, forcing a desperate chase.
    • A variant done in the late UK run had two or three performers act out a scene as normal... except that random sound effects would play without warning. This possibly led to the third variant...
    • Two players enact a scene given to them by the host; they are allowed dialogue and may requisition sound effects from the people with the microphones: two members of the audience, picked just before the game. Typically, the audience members' contributions are not on cue or even halfway relevant, allowing the game to go Off the Rails in spectacularly amusing fashion. For instance, it once resulted in a quacking elephant.
  • Whose Line: Performers do a scene inserting random lines as provided by audience members; sometimes an audience member is brought in, with all their lines being the random ones.
    • Has a UK predecessor, Every Other Line - one player acts out the scene however he likes while responding to the other, who's been given a book with a page chosen and every other line highlighted, and can only read from it for the whole thing.

Three Players

  • (90-Second) Alphabet: Each performer's sentence must start with successive letters of the alphabet, ending on the letter of the alphabet it started with. "Xavier Hollander" probably got more exposure from this game than any other show in the past ten years. Usually time-limited to around 90 seconds.) The UK version usually only had two players, while the American version had three.
  • Dead Bodies: Two players (and one audience member or guest) have to play dead as the third, usually Colin, must not only move the other players around, but voice all their dialogue. Rather similar to Moving People (see above).
  • Dubbing: Not to be confused with Film Dub below. An audience member or special guest is roped in to participate in a scene, with the twist that only two of the players help him/her along while the third provides all of his/her dialogue.
  • Film Dub: Performers replace the soundtrack of an old movie.
  • Helping Hands: Two performers act out a scene, but one performer cannot use their hands. A third performer stands behind that performer and becomes their "hands". Later UK episodes added foodstuffs and other props that render all actors Covered in Gunge thanks to the awkwardness of the gimmick.
  • Hey You Down There: An Affectionate Parody of those 1950s workplace instructional safety videos. Two players (who say nothing the whole time) act out a scene while responding to the third player, who acts as the chirpy narrator.
  • Motown Group: Three performers sing a verse each, usually based on a job e.g. "Do The Firefighter". One performer (usually Wayne) gets an extra verse at the end explaining how to do the dance.
    • Variation: Doo-Wop seems identical to Motown on the surface, but 1. the style of singing is different and 2. the audience is poached for a name and a hobby, which is immediately spun into an unusual cause of death for the players to sing about.
    • Another variation: Boogie Woogie Sisters, also identical to Motown except for a style change, and as the game name suggests, the players sing as a girl group.
  • Multiple Personalities: Three performers act out a scene, but are assigned with three small items: whoever holds each item must act as an impression of a random character attached to it (whoever is holding the water bottle is John Wayne, whoever holds the telescope is Michael Jackson, etc.) This one seems designed to test each actor's range.
  • Newsflash: One performer stands in front of a green screen and acts as the "man on the street", responding to comments made by two other performers in an attempt to guess what scene is being played behind him (he isn't able to see it himself, only the other actors and the audience).
  • Old Job, New Job: Two performers start by acting out a scene centered around a certain job (either as workers or customers, or both), then the third man comes in, also a worker, but hasn't shaken off the habits from his previous job (which is usually suggested by the audience). Hilarity Ensues, of course.
    • Variation: Three of A Kind had all three performers acting like they hadn't shaken off their old habits.
      • Further variation: Reunion sets up a scenario where all three performers meet up for a reunion, while - you guessed it - still riddled with the old habits of whatever job they'd been together in. It ends with an attempt by all players to sing the same Alma Mater Song, which later spawns the All in One Voice game.
  • Quick Change: not about costumes in any way. Two performers act out a generic scene, but the third can call out 'Change' (as many times as he likes) and force whoever is speaking to think up a replacement line for what he just said.
  • Stand, Sit, Bend / Stand, Sit, Lie: Performers act out a scene given to them, but one has to be standing, one has to be sitting, and one has to be lying down (or bending over); whenever one performer changes their position, the other actors have to change accordingly. Bending or leaning players often end up in a Captain Morgan Pose.
  • Three-Headed Broadway Star: Three performers sing a "hit Broadway song" one word at a time.
  • Two-Line Vocabulary: Performers act out a scene, but two of them can only say two specific lines given to them by the host (the third can speak freely).
  • What's in the Bag?: Introduced in the CW reboot. The love child of Infomercial and Good Cop/Bad Cop - Three performers act out a scene; two of the performers are each provided with a purse from an audience member, and they have to take out items from the bag to use on the third.
  • Mixed Messages: Introduced in the 5th revival season. This one's the love child of Two Line Vocabulary and Playbook/Every Other Line, with three players acting out a scene while two of them get all their dialogue from the texts of two audience volunteers.

Four Players

  • Action Replay: Two players are given a scene to play straight, while the other two, their hearing shielded with earphones, have only the first pair's movements to go by as they try to repeat the entire thing, substituting with their own dialogue.
  • African Chant: As Song Styles, with one player as the lead "chanter" and the others backing him up. A bit on the edge between good and bad taste.
  • All In One Voice: The audience is poached for a song title: split into two pairs, the players have to improvise said song while singing back and forth, each pair singing together as one each time. One of the hardest games.
  • Audition: From the UK version. After the audience is asked to make up a title for a musical, one player is designated as the producer while the other three 'audition' for parts in the musical that he makes up for them, sometimes including musical numbers.
  • Authors: From the UK version, the audience suggests a title for a novel and the players take turns to narrate this 'tale' in the style of their favourite authors, or subgenre of literature like Dick and Jane children's books or magazine articles. Even air hostess manuals and mistranslated porn.
    • Variant: Remote Control, where TV shows instead of novels are the focus, the audience suggests a generic subject instead of making up a book title, and the players went in random order.
  • Awards Show: An Affectionate Parody of awards ceremonies - two players are the award presenters of a specially themed awards show, while the other two are nominees sitting in the audience, whe step up to receive the award later on. The game starts with the camera randomly picking audience members for the 'presenters' to make up names and whatever they were nominated for, before settling on the 'winners'.
  • Bartender: two or three performers approach the fourth, singing about some subject sugested by the audience, and the 'bartender' sings his advice back to them. This one began in the UK series as Prison Visitor (criminal sings to visitor about their crimes) then later became Psychiatrist (patient sings to doctor about their mental problems) until they finally settled on a bar as the setting.
  • Courtroom Scene: after the audience suggests a trivial crime, one player is the judge, one is the public prosecutor and the remaining two are the witnesses called in to testify, with the addition of some random hats for them to form their acts around.
  • Dating Profiles: Introduced in the CW revival. The performers act out bad online dating profiles. Similar to Hats...without the hats.
  • Daytime Talk Show: An Affectionate Parody of, what else, daytime talk shows, particularly Jerry Springer. Rather than some pressing issue, the audience suggests a known fairy tale to base the 'talk show' around: one player is the host, two are the interviewees and the fourth is placed in the audience, posing questions to the interviewees.
  • Fashion Models: An Affectionate Parody of fashion shows. The audience suggests a random profession or some other theme, then one player gets to be the commentator while the other three strut up and down the stage, one at a time, then together all holding to the topic at hand.
  • Fixed Expressions: From the UK version. All four performers act out a scene, played straight apart from having to keep the same randomly-assigned facial expressions the whole time, regardless of how the scene plays out. Notably one of the hardest games.
  • Foreign Film Dub: Two performers act out a scene in a "foreign language" (anywhere from Hebrew to Klingon to Canadian) and are translated by the other two performers.
  • Forward/Rewind: Introduced in the CW reboot. Four performers act out a scene that periodically alternates between rewinding (regressing through their previous lines and actions) and going forward (repeating their reversed actions in the proper order).
  • Funeral: Three or four players enact a funeral service, and the audience is poached for a name and a hobby, which is immediately spun into an unusual cause of death. The difficult part comes up when all three players have to make up a tribute song and sing it all together on the spot.
  • Game Show: the audience makes up a silly name for a game show, and the players act it out, with one as the host and the others as contestants. Usually structured as a three-round affair.
  • Hats: Split into teams of two, each team is given a box of hats to wear for gag scenes; this was almost always "the world's worst dating service video." Very often a Hurricane of Puns.
  • Hoedown: Performers sing a four-verse country-style song on a topic given by the host (usually chosen from audience suggestions), one verse at a time. One of Drew Carey's favorite games in the US version, possibly because he was halfway decent at it, which led to the others getting rather sick of it.
  • Hollywood Director: Three performers act out a scene, while the other performer acts as a director to stop the scene periodically and make odd suggestions on how to improve the scene.("Do it like you're all ______!")
  • Irish Drinking Song: Performers sing an Irish drinking song, one line at a time.
  • Let's Make a Date: A dating show, with one player playing whatever they want. The other three are given cards, for example, "Russian Gunman with Extreme Violent Tendencies" or "Mad Scientist Looking for a Test Subject" or something else silly, and they play out what's on the card, leaving the fourth player to guess who they are.
  • Millionaire Show: Only in the American version, the performers act out a parody of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, their characters holding to a theme. Unlike the real game show, however, there are only two lifelines and one of them is a helper in the audience (one of the performers) instead of polling the entire audience.
  • (American) Musical: Possibly the most elaborate UK game. One audience member is interviewed, giving his name and occupation and hobbies etc, which are then depicted as a stage musical for the plyers to act out, complete with the improvising of up to 4 different songs.
  • Musical Film Review: From the UK version. A title is picked at random from an almanac of movies, after which one player, acting as film reviewer, must make up a synopsis of the movie and musical numbers for the other three to enact out.
    • This one was sprung from the same concept as the UK game Musical Directors, except that the audience is poached for a title and the players are divided into two pairs: one pair is the brainstorming team behind the stage musical that the other pair must act (and sing) out.
  • News Report: From the UK version. Holding to the subject of some popular children's tale or mundane event, the performers are split into two pairs: one pair portrays the in-studio news anchor and an expert on the subject, while the other pair are 'in the field', a reporter and a 'random' interviewee.
  • Number of Words: A scene is performed, but each performer can only speak sentences using a set number of words. This usually includes someone who can only say one-word sentences.
  • Panel Show: From the UK version. The audience suggest a topic to discuss, after which the players, with the help of some wigs and hats, act as random characters on a panel show discussing the topic.
  • Party Quirks: One performer hosts a party and tries to guess the others' secret quirks (for example, "thinks (s)he is _____", an impression of someone/something famous, or some ridiculously elaborate character/situation).
  • Press Conference: Three players act as reporters, one player acts as someone who has just made a huge announcement. Using the questions of the reporters, who are told what is going on, the player who called the press conference has to guess who he is and what he's announcing.
  • Props: Split into teams of two, each team is given a bizarre prop that must be used as the subject of a gag every time they are buzzed in.
  • Questions Only: A scene is performed where performers can speak only in questions. If they fail to, they are buzzed out.
    • Questionable Impressions: As Questions Only, except the performers also have to do an impression of a famous person (real or fictional, dead or alive).
      • Questions With Hats: Pretty much self-explanatory.
      • Questions With Wigs
  • Scene to Rap: Performers act out a scene, rapping every bit of dialog.
  • Scenes from a Hat: Situations, suggested by the audience, are picked randomly from a hat (such as "inappropriate things to say to someone on their deathbed"). Easily one of the most popular games.
    • Variation: Scenes Cut From The Movies, dedicated to movie parodies, and the audience is poached for movie titles at first.
  • Song Titles: Like Questions Only, a scene is performed where performers can only speak using full song titles. If they fail to (either by not coming up with one, or using one that the host believes is bogus), they are buzzed out.
  • Sports Commentators: Two performers act out some regular, mundane activity, while the other two give a blow-by-blow account of the action as it happens. Colin and Ryan were known to turn the mundane activity into a raging competition anyway. It gets complicated as the commentators can rewind the acting by calling out 'let's look at that again'.
  • Storyteller: From the UK series. The audience is asked to make up a title of a story and An Aesop that may or may not go with it, then one player takes the role of a children's storyteller, making up the tale that the other three players act out, while making sure to lead up to the aesop... more or less.
  • Superheroes: The audience gives one player a strange superhero name. He starts the scene, dealing with an odd (yet thematic) crisis. Each other player enters the scene one at a time, given their own odd codename by the most recent player to have entered. The last player "solves" the crisis somehow, and each of the players proceed to leave in the opposite order that they came in.
  • Tag: From the UK series. Two players start the game by acting out a scene, but at any time one of the other two can call 'Tag', freezing the action, then replace one of the onstage pair, and lead the scene in a completely unrelated direction depending on whatever poses they'd been frozen in - and sometimes regardless of what it actually looks like.
  • Telethon: More of a Take That! than an Affectionate Parody of TV charity drives; the audience is poached for a suggestion of "people you wouldn't normally raise money for", then two players act as either hosts both, or one host and one of the "beneficiaries", while the other two sing the fundraising charity theme as whichever celebs they can muster up.
  • That'll Be Charlie Now: Three performers waiting for "Charlie", a friend of theirs, start describing him to the best of their ability - the fourth player enters portraying 'Charlie', and displaying every detail of their description to the best of his ability. Which usually involves having all kinds of weird habits at once.
    • An alternate version, merely named Here (S)He Comes Now, divides the performers down the middle into two pairs instead (two people describing two late arrivals).
    • Variation: Make A Monster, introduced for a Halloween episode in the US run, has the first pair as Dr. Frankenstein and Igor instead, and they make up the weird habits that the other two players must display by 'attaching' body parts that belonged to known celebs or characters previously.
  • Theme Restaurant: The performers act out a scene at a specifically-themed restaurant, two performers as patrons, the other two as waiters.
  • Title Sequence: The audience is poached for a name of a famous person and some profession - then two of the players have to sing the title theme of a '70s sitcom, "(Name of Person) and the (Person In Said Profession)", while the other two act it out..
  • Wedding: Someone from the audience joins the performers while acting out a wedding party.
  • Weird Newscasters: The performers act out the news, as two anchors, sports, and weather. One character acts normally; the others all have a strange quirk, identity, or situation.
  • World's Worst: Performers gave examples of the World's Worst [something] (as given by Clive/Drew). In the US version, usually was crossed with Hats and was a dating service.


  • Animals: Two or three players act out a generic drama scene, with the twist that they are all acting as animals; usually they're all the same animal but sometimes one is a different species.
  • Backwards Scene: A scene played Back to Front.
  • Changing Letter / Letter Changes: Players act out a generic scene but must replace ao certaoin letter with some other one in aoll their diaologue. One of the hardest games.
  • Film, (TV,) and Theatre Styles: Performers act out a scene provided by the host, using various genres as given by the audience (Soap Opera, William Shakespeare, Baywatch, Harry Potter, Porno, etc.).
    • Variation: The UK version had Emotion Option, where Clive would buzz in with a different prevalent emotion for the scene each time.
  • Greatest Hits: Performers hawk a new compilation album; two are the barkers, and a third (and sometimes fourth) sings the songs.
  • If You Know What I Mean: Performers act out a scene in which everything said is a double entendre, ending every line with some variant on "If you know what I mean..."
  • Living Scenery: Split into teams of two (sometimes with a special guest replacing one player) and then act out a skit where one team are the "living props" for the other team. One of the best skits featured Richard Simmons. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Picture: One of the most uniquely UK games yet, this involves two or three players filling the cut-out faces of a large painting. They must enact their scene with regards to whatever the painting might be of.
  • Scene To Music: Two or three performers act out a scene that starts normally, then a randomly-picked piece of background music would start playing, upon which the performers would adjust the portrayal according to the music.
  • Show-Stopping Number: The performers act out a scene normally, but each time the host presses the buzzer, the performer who said the last line of dialog up to then has to sing a musical number based on that line of dialog.
  • Sideways Scene: Introduced in the CW reboot. Performers go backstage to perform a scene while lying down on a specially-painted floor. Alongside that difficulty, occasionally Aisha buzzes in with a new style for them to act out, similar to Film, TV & Theatre Styles.
  • Song Styles / Duets: One or more performers sing in a particular style, originally about a household object, then UK season 10 introduced the better-known Mk. II variant where they sing about an audience member. Sometimes any remaining performers would be roped in to act as backup dancers.

One-time test games:

  • Ballad Of: A US exclusive game. Basically the same as Duets but in a specific Western style, as the name would indicate. As seen here.
  • Gangsta Rap: A US exclusive game. Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Two performers rap about an audience member. Probably nixed because "Song Styles" and "Duet" pretty much cover whatever genre is needed, so having a game devoted to one style is redundant.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: A US exclusive game. Using the premise of Old Job, New Job, one performer acts normally while the other two question him, but their old habits are essentially a good-cop-bad-cop routine.
  • Ice Skaters: A US exclusive game. Two players act out a mundane activity in the form of a figure skating routine. Believed to be aborted after the first game ended in Ryan's Game-Breaking Injury.
  • Interrogation: A UK exclusive game, and only played once. Two of the performers would be the cops, and the third performer would be the suspect they're interrogating. It was similar in format to "Press Conference", in that the third performer had to guess what they were arrested for, based on hints by the other two. The one playing concerned Ryan mooning the Queen of England.
  • Meet the Family: A US exclusive game. Wayne and Kathy Greenwood, who are engaged, prepare to meet Kathy's parents, played by Ryan (the mother) and Colin (the father). Both have quirks, though: Ryan played a dominatrix and Colin played Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man.
  • Really Bad Hangover: A US exclusive game. A unique variant of Sound Effects involving all four players. One pair acts out the scene while the other pair provides sound effects through microphones with the echo level deliberately jacked up.
  • Remember That Song: From the UK version. A cross between Greatest Hits and Show Stopping Number, where the players act out a scene that includes musical numbers they make up about themselves, when another player determines what style.
  • Survival Show: A US exclusive game. A parody of Survivor, with one player taking the role of 'Jeff Probst' with the other three as 'survivors' in a randomly-chosen environment. The one playing had the scene of a post office, with Greg as the host.
  • What Are You Trying To Say?: A US exclusive game. Two players act out an ordinary scene, but take turns getting wildly offended by innocuous comments. Watch it here.


  • There were two variations on what the winner did, both exclusive to their individual versions:
    • In the British version, the winner would be declared arbitrarily after the last game was played. They would then have to read the credits in the style of host Clive Anderson's choosing after he signed the program off.
    • In the American version, Drew Carey would switch out with one of the contestants and play the last game of the show (Drew would switch back out and make the cast read the credits in the style of his choosing). That contestant was the winner, and occasionally would be tasked with controlling the bell or buzzer should the need arise in the game they were playing.
      • The second American version would either follow what the UK version did, or just let all the players join the special guest in reading the credits.

Point Totals

If you're curious, these are the point totals for 1998 to 2006, as tabulated by xMrChuckles on Reddit:
  • Wayne Brady: 50,072,587,425
  • Ryan Stiles: 11,113,372,791.5
  • Colin Mochrie: 3,012,399,040.5
  • Chip Esten: 2,004,047,000
  • Greg Proops: 1,001,122,117
  • Brad Sherwood: 1,071,980.5
  • Denny Segal: 1,059,560
  • Karen Maruyama: 1,004,450
  • Kathy Greenwood: 59,810
  • Stephen Colbert: 12,000
  • Kathy Griffin: 5,000
  • Ian Gomez: 4,000
  • Jeff Davis: 3,300
  • Josie Lawrence: 3000
  • Whoopi Goldberg: 2,500
  • Patrick Bristow: 1,000
  • Robin Williams: 1,000
  • Kathy Kinney: 50


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: