Start thinking of your best comedy skit ideas now. The better your ideas are, the more successful the touring comedy improv show "Whose Live Anyway?" will be.
The show, which comes to Modesto's Gallo Center for the Arts on Nov. 10 and features 90 minutes of improvised comedy and song, depends on audience suggestions for comic bits as well as audience members who aren't afraid to perform on stage.
The show stars Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops and Jeff Davis from the popular TV comedy improv show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" as well as Bill Murray's younger brother, Joel Murray, from TV's "Dharma and Greg." Bob Derkach provides the musical accompaniment on keyboards.
"Over the years I've figured out who I should pick from the crowd and who I shouldn't," said Stiles, who stands out in the cast for his towering height.
The 53-year-old entertainer, who has appeared on "The Drew Carey Show" and "Two-and-a-Half Men," joked that he avoids picking young people because he doesn't want to do a scene about the prom. "We want someone who is married, who has kids, who has a job and something to sing about."
Stiles said the cast gets good volunteers at every show.
"There's always somebody who stands out in any show."
He said the worst audiences they've performed before have been in Las Vegas. People come because they've received free tickets and they aren't usually into the show. Everywhere else, audiences seem ready to go.
"Whose Live Anyway?" debuted in Vancouver, Canada, in 1999 under the name "A Night of Improv" and since has been performed throughout North America. The show is enjoyed by people of all ages.
"You're not going to hear the f-word like you will from a stand-up," said Stiles. "We keep it pretty clean. We see kids as young as 7 or 8 and 70-year-olds."
The entertainers also avoid politics and other heavy stuff. "We know people want to escape," Stiles said. "They're there to get away from that. We do stuff about relationships every-day stuff."
Stiles said he enjoys doing improv because it involves working with other people. Stand-up comedy is different because it's so competitive and everybody wants to be better than the other guy.
"In improv, you have to work together," Stiles said. "If you get a guy who wants to be the star, he won't be because the other people will shut him down."
The audiences who attend improv shows are friendlier, Stiles added. "In stand-up, it's always like what have you got?" he said, explaining the audience has an attitude of "make me laugh."
In improv shows, they understand that performers are making scenes up off the top of their head and are having fun.
"Some (stand-up) comics act like it's a big hassle to be here," Stiles said. "We enjoy being on stage."
WHAT: "Whose Live Anyway?"
WHERE: 7 p.m. Nov. 10
WHEN: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100