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Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Whose Line Is It Anyway? is a largely unscripted comedy game show (originally on radio and more succesfully on television), where a panel of improvisational performers and comedians make up characters, scenes, and songs on the spot. They perform scenes and improv games with ideas and premises suggested by the audience and pre-written prompts from the host, which the performers do not see or hear in advance.

In a typical taping, each game is played between one and three times, always with different prompts and suggestions. The show is taped live in front of an audience, and then the show is edited and only those scenes deemed the best are actually broadcast. The show is formatted roughly as a mock competition, with the host arbitrarily assigning points and choosing a "winner" at the end of each episode. The comedians rely heavily on their own wit, and the nature of the television editing process allows the performers to break out of character and break other common rules of improvisation for comedic effect. Thus the show resembles improptu sketch comedy more than improvisational theatre.

The show was created by Dan Patterson[?] and was first produced in the UK as a radio show for BBC Radio 4. It was hosted by Clive Anderson, with four contestants consisting of Stephen Fry, John Sessions[?] and two guests. It was later moved to the television station Channel 4, with little change in format but a more varied guest rotation. The reruns of the UK TV series were aired for many years on Comedy Central. Later, it was brought to the attention of American comedian Drew Carey (who had a working relationship with regular Whose Line performer Ryan Stiles.) Carey convinced ABC to air test episodes in the United States. The show was an inexpensive hit, and ABC kept Carey on as the host of a successful American version. The American version is almost identical to the UK series, though it has a less diverse rotation of games and performers, and features occasional celebrity guest appearances.

Regular comedians on the American incarnation of the show include Wayne Brady[?], Colin Mochrie[?], Ryan Stiles, Brad Sherwood[?], Greg Proops[?], and Chip Esten[?]. Regular comedians from the British version included Stiles, Mochrie, Proops, Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence[?], and John Sessions. Sessions was ever-present in the early days of the British television version, with Stiles becoming a staple in later episodes and having some influence on the creation and success of the American incarnation.

The theme tune for the television incarnation of the show was composed by Philip Pope.



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