Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
The Line King
As a young stand-up comic in the early '80s, The Drew Carey Show's Ryan Stiles soon learned the meaning of the term "audience participation." "I used to perform at strip clubs, where everyone hated you," says Stiles, 39, of the jeering crowds, which were expecting gyrating bikini-clad women. "I think I got an ulcer from that." Still, it was good practice for the Canadian-reared Stiles's transatlantic stint as a panelist on the British comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1989-98). The show challenged Stiles's quick wit by calling on him to ad-lib skits based on suggestions from a studio audience. Now, on ABC's new version of Whose Line (Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET), the premise is the same but it's up to host Drew Carey—Stiles's coexecutive producer—to decide how well he and other guests perform their riffs and repartee. "Ryan's an incredibly fast thinker," says costar Colin Mochrie, an alumnus of the British Line. "He also looks goofy, so that's a big plus."
To Stiles, an L.A. resident, the big advantage of doing the U.S. version is that he no longer has to accumulate frequent-flyer miles to London. "I'm horrified of flying," he says. These days, his family keeps him grounded. His wife, Pat, a thirtysomething homemaker, and their daughter, age 6, and son, 4, are all fans of the show. "Kids have a wild imagination. They really get into it," he says. "But they also think I'm kind of weird."