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Quick Quiz: Greg Proops

By | Published on Wednesday 2 August 2017

This August the Edinburgh Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we have asked a plethora of performers about their personal Fringe experiences.
To kick us off, the cast of the iconic improv show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ get all nostalgic as they return to the Edinburgh stage once again. Today, Greg Proops.

TW: What was you first ever experience of the Edinburgh Fringe?
GP: My first year performing was 1993. I did a midnight show at the Assembly Rooms. The Doug Anthony All-Stars played upstairs and stomped and made a lot of noise. Things were falling off the ceiling in my venue. One night the dam broke and I took my crowd of 99 people upstairs and invaded their theatre, stamping and shouting “We hate the Doug Ants!” They were, of course stunned, then delighted, and then we all sang ‘Your Cheating Heart’ together. Tears of joy.

TW: What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen performed at the Fringe?
GP: Steven Berkoff in several plays, including his adaptation of Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ performed without a set. Magisterial. Absolutely riveting. His utter command of the stage, his rare sense of humour, his broad, unique style. The drawing out of words and emphasis on sounds. An absolute Master. We also ate hot dogs together at a cook-out on Calton Hill.

TW: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen performed at the Fringe – so bad it was good?
GP: Bob the cab driver, who is now passed, drove a white black cab that had fairy lights, a plaid quilt and dolls in the back window. He would blast bagpipe music at top volume and never, ever look at the road. One drunken night with the legendary Malcolm Hardee, I decided to take a ride with Bob. Malcolm had his number and he picked us up at a pub near the Pleasance.

Bob had some glowing necklace he was fussing with endlessly, with Malcolm in the backseat interjecting, “in your own time, Bob” a thousand times. Bob wasn’t speaking with his wife at the time and was taking his meals in the cab. At last we took off and were driving up Arthur’s Seat on the wrong side of the road, cars swerving in the foggy dark to miss us. Malcolm piping up in his deadpan, “mind the road, Bob”. Bob nattering at us in his indecipherable brogue whilst blasting the pipes.

I always looked for his cab. I miss Bob. He was Edinburgh. And I miss Malcolm, he once got high with me backstage at the Balloon and tried to put on a bear outfit over his suit.

TW: Which of the Fringe shows you performed in do you most fondly remember – and why?
GP: The venerated comedy duo Jim Sweeney and Steve Steen’s 30th anniversary show at the Gilded Balloon. Zillions of comics, the ageless Barry Cryer got up and slayed backstage and onstage. Then we all got up and roasted Sweeney and Steen. It was so glorious, Karen Koren treated us to champagne. My wife and I stayed at The Scotsman and we saw Muriel Sparks in the lobby. It does not get more Scottish than that.

TW: Name a Fringe performer – past or present – who you’d love to see participating in ‘Whose Line?’
GP: Colin Mochrie. I’ve performed on ‘Whose Line’ with him for 28 years, Edinburgh three years ago, the West End in London the last two years and countless gigs on the road. But is he really all there?

TW: Other than performing and seeing shows, what is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh during August?
GP: Dining with my wife. Lunch at Valvona & Corolla. The best fixed price lunch in the universe at the Grain Store. Walking up to the Acropolis on Calton Hill. The Whisky Bar on the West Bow. Shellfish at Ondine. Art at the Scottish National Gallery. Smoking pot on the balcony of the Tower Restaurant. Not going to the Tattoo. Walking down Princes Street gazing at the torches from the Castle at night. Fish and chips and a bottle of wine from L’Alba D’Oro.

‘Whose Line Is It Anyway? – Live At The Fringe’ was performed at the Assembly Rooms at Edinburgh Festival 2017.