Dress a thin man in a sharp suit and thick-rimmed spectacles and the comparisons are obvious. Greg Proops is the Buddy Holly of comedy. Greg Proops is the Elvis Costello of comedy. Such convenient labels are not as superficial as they first appear. Proops is not only as American as Peggy Sue but erudite enough to sprinkle contemporary pop commentary with references to Oliver Cromwell. Several years ago, I watched him being grilled by a heckler on ancient Greek philosophy and was nearly convinced she had been planted in the audience to provide intellectual weight to his act. This is a man who possesses all-too fulsome knowledge of the Banana Splitz and whose sarcastic eye-rolling "Duh"s tend to indicate occasionally sloppy wit. Those who are familiar with his work on Whose Line is it Anyway? and Viva Cabaret will not be surprised by his flexibility. They may, however, be under-prepared for his less-than squeaky-clean language and advocation of borderline counter-culture. For all his celebration of American trash icons, Proops is a Californian liberal for whom villains are rednecks with bug sticks under the front seats of their pickup trucks.
Although by his frequent British appearances, both live and on television, it could be supposed that he has practically taken up residence here, Proops seems perpetually bewildered by London cabbies and the etiquette of eating fish and chips. These subjects seem somehow inpappropriate for him. Like Buddy Holly, Proops's best material stems from his love/hate relationship with the American Dream.
Greg Proops, Sat 11 Feb, Richmond Theatre (081-940 0088)