Q&A with Ryan -- The Ryan Stiles "Giraffe" Board
Date Posted: 20:21:55 03/14/02 Mon
Michelle: What's your favorite games to play?
Ryan: You know what, they change all the time cuz I may like a game until I suck at it one night, and then it's not my favorite game anymore. Anything kind of scenic that involves a scene rather than a gamey game...so I'd rather do any scene game rather than props...or you know. So, I’d say any game close to a scene. I'm trying to think of one now.
Michelle: Maybe like Film and Theater Styles or something like that?
Ryan: Yeah where you can carry on a scene or even like that secret agent thing that Colin and I do.
Michelle: Improbable Mission?
Ryan: Yeah something that you can carry on a scene anyway rather than just holding up props or hats.
Michelle: When and how did you meet Greg and Brad?
Ryan: Greg I met in London the first time I went to do Whose Line. He was the first to do Whose Line. Then we were there the second year, I think, and I met him there. Brad I met... Brad was actually when Second City came to Santa Monica, Brad was understudying for someone, and I'm trying to think who he understudied for...I think he understudied for me actually. Yeah, he was my understudy at Second City.
Michelle: So it wasn’t through Whose Line that you met him?
Ryan: No, I knew him before that.
Michelle: What do you think you'd be doing if you weren't in show business?
Ryan: Oh man...I don't know what else I'd be good at. I mean the only other thing I did was work in the fishing industry, and I know I hated that, but I was good at it, so I imagine anything I really wanted to do. I don't know. Probably something involving animals or something. Maybe a vet or something. I don't know. I've never really thought about it cuz I've never really done anything else.
Michelle: You're an animal lover?
Ryan: Yeah...well not all animals, but I have lots of dog. I've had cats before, but I'm not really a big cat person. Fish are just kind of useless. Birds belong outside even though we have one. It's just dogs are kind of always there for you. Waiting for you when you get home.
Michelle: Yeah, I'm a dog person too.
Ryan: Yeah, I love them.
Michelle: What do you see yourself doing professionally after DCS & WL are finished?
Michelle: You're just going to completely retire?
Michelle: Teaching improv?
Ryan: Oh I'll do that yeah, but I won't be in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry. I might come down to do the odd thing. I have a group in Vancouver that I still know those guys and can go up and work. Or Seattle, I have a group there that I work with a bit. Teaching improv at the University there. It doesn’t really matter what the money is, just getting up on stage, and I can always get on stage, so that's all that really matters. I don't care if I don't do any television or film. That doesn't really matter to me.
Michelle: Since you must travel a good bit, how do you overcome your fear of flying?
Ryan: I actually don't travel a lot. The only time I ever fly is to go home and see my family. I actually don't do the trips to New York anymore when the show goes off. I don't do that, and I'm punished by making…they make me do all the radio stuff from here at 5:00 in the morning, but I don't go there... I don't go on vacation to Hawaii anymore. I just don't fly period unless I'm going home.
Michelle: That's up to Washington?
Ryan: Yeah. that’s it, and I have to take Xanax for that now just to get on a plane.
Michelle: My sister-in-law has to do the same thing. She just went to Hawaii and she had to take something.
Ryan: I couldn’t do Hawaii anymore. I used to go every year. Couldn’t do it anymore.
Michelle: What keeps you interested in improv?
Ryan: Well...improv keeps you interested. I mean it's always new every night. You never know what's going to happen. It's like a first date every night. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's bad, but it's always kind of exciting…I think from what I remember about first dates. I mean, I did stand up for like 11 years, and I just can't imagine doing it now. Doing the same stuff every night. I mean good stand ups don't, but I didn't write enough new stuff to do it every night. I couldn't imagine doing that again. That terrifies me, but improv's just...you know how it is. You’ve come down. It's like a family thing here. You get together after not seeing each other all week. I’m working with the nicest guys, Proops, Chip, Brad, Julie, Sean. I mean they're all just really nice people, and they're very talented. If you go see some bad improv groups, you'll realize how bad it can be.
Michelle: Yeah, I've seen some bad ones.
Ryan: Well the thing is now too because so many stand up clubs are closing, which happens every 15 years or so. When I started doing stand up, it was in a real lull. David Brenner was like the biggest comic, and then every city got a comedy club, and then it got burned out cuz it got on TV. It was overexposed. and people didn’t go to clubs, and now it's dipping again and they're closing, and so a lot of these stand ups are forming improv groups now, and they don't necessarily have any background in it, but the thing about improv is if you do these games you have a handle. I mean, I know people tell me they do these games at home, so the rules are there, but doing long from is different. Doing scene work is a lot different. I think if you're playing a game you have to do a scene in it, so I think that's where they lack. They're just out to get laughs.
Michelle: I've seen some really good long form...Second City alumni.
Ryan: Yeah well that's how we trained. When I do Whose Line everything I was taught not to do in Second City I'm doing in Whose Line. Getting everything out right in the beginning, because we don't have time. We have to hurry.
Michelle: Do you ever watch Whose Line when you're at home or on your free time?
Ryan: Yeah because I'm home most nights. I stay home most nights, so I watch the 10:00 on the Family Channel, because I can see the old ones I forgot about, but I don't really watch the new ones…well they're on Thursday nights, so I'm down here all the time. Yeah I catch them once in a while. I don't like to watch the old ones from England. They're kind of bad. I think the show has improved so much.
Michelle: What do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?
Ryan: Well that's kind of the same... just you know picking weeds and drinking wine (laughing) hopefully. Well actually, my daughter will be 19 by then, so I'll probably be checking out a lot of guys.
Michelle: Yeah, get out the shotgun?
Ryan: Well maybe I should rephrase that...you know what I mean.
Michelle: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean (laughing)
Michelle: I don't remember this episode, but this question is were those really oysters you and Kathy ate during Helping Hands?
Ryan: No but yet, I can't remember what they were, but they weren't really oysters. I'm not really eating dog food; although, I have had to eat some bad things at times. I mean Colin shoved a brick of brie in my mouth, and I hate brie. Cocktail onion juice went down my throat one time. I've almost gagged a few times. And they always give you stuff that you're not sure if it's still good. Like a scene with deviled eggs. You're in a studio, how long has that been sitting around?
Michelle: The worst I ever saw was the one when Florence Henderson was in, and she put ketchup on a pie and you ate it. Do you remember that?
Ryan: I ate that, yeah. Once you start mixing things, it gets a bit dangerous.
Michelle: You've done movies, TV, radio and stage. What was the most enjoyable?
Ryan: Yeah. There's just an excitement about it.
Michelle: How many dogs do you have? And what are their names?
Ryan: I have three right now. I'm getting another one when I go back up. I have a shepherd mix named Stan who's 13. He's blind and deaf now, so I have to get right up behind him and tap him, but he was the smartest dog I had…ever. I've always had two or three dogs. I have Woody who's a white lab. He's kind of big and clumsy and runs into things. He's a good dog, protects everyone. And actually not my dog, but it’s my daughters dog, Dudley a Scottish Terrier because we told both the kids when they learned to read they could have a pet, so that was hers.
Michelle: So your son has one?
Ryan: My son has one, a parrot. His name's Polly. I don't know where he got that name from. And the only thing it knows how to say is "Watch out for the monkey." Cuz Sam said in the wild monkeys eat parrots. I don't know if that's true, but you walk past the bird...it'll be dark at night, and all you'll hear is "Watch out for the monkey!" So it's kind of you know, kind of odd.
Michelle: What's your favorite color?
Ryan: Green...green or blue. Toss up but I think green.
Michelle: What is your favorite food?
Ryan: I really like Italian food. I could eat pasta three meals a day, but I also in London really got into Indian food, so I love Indian food. I do all the cooking in my family. I've known my wife for 22 years, and I can count on one hand how many times she's cooked, but she likes my cooking. I cook Thai, and I cook Indian. I have a lot of favorites. I'm not really a meat and potatoes guy. I don't like potatoes as well. A lot of sauces though. I like sauces.
Michelle: That question came from Tyler.
Ryan: Oh yeah. He's a cool kid. How's he doing?
Michelle: He's doing good. He e-mailed me and asked me to ask you that, so I told him I would.
Ryan: He's a good kid.
Michelle: Which do you like playing best: Scene to To Rap, Hoedown, or Irish Drinking Song?
Ryan: It wouldn't be scene to rap. I hate that. Ahhh, Irish Song or Hoedown?
Ryan: I think Irish song.
Michelle: Yeah, I like that one too.
Michelle: How tall are you?
Ryan: 6' 6
Michelle: Do you know how to play any of the musical instruments you've played on the DCS?
Ryan: No. I play no instruments at all; although, I have a guitar, and I kind of played that for a little while, but I don't think I've ever played that on Drew Carey.
Michelle: Are you able to receive mail yet through Warner Brothers?
Ryan: No. We get none.
Michelle: Apparently there's someplace you can go on Warner Brothers to e-mail, are you getting any of that?
Ryan: (laughing) You're asking me? I haven't been on my computer in three months. I imagine there is.
Michelle: But you’re not getting any of it?
Ryan: No, and I really miss the mail too. I miss it a lot, but they just can't do it now. They don't want to risk their employees. And you don't think of it working down there...you kind of go well that's stupid, but then you think about where you are, and you go wait a minute, they were going to hit somewhere, we're at a major motion picture studio so you know I miss it, but I’m signing a lot less, because I try to answer all my mail. If I can't answer, most of them ask for pictures, so I try…and then I look for people like Tyler. I read it all but a lot of people just want a picture. That's all they'll say in the letter, so that's what you do. Unless it's someone really...if it's kids that are sick or something like that then I'll take a lot of time.
Michelle: How much longer are you going to be on the DCS?
Ryan: I'll do at least next year; although, I'm trying to get less shows next year, and then I don't know about the ninth. I mean we resigned for the ninth.
Michelle: Oh, so they'll be a ninth season?
Ryan: There will be, and if Drew wants me to do it, I'll probably do it, because I like Drew, but I'll try and get less shows just so I can spend more time with my family. I think nine's probably it, I would think.
Michelle: When do you think WL is going to start taping again? Or do you think it's going to start taping again?
Ryan: You know what, I've heard so many different things. I'm probably going to be the last to know, because I'm only the executive producer (laughing). I've heard that we're not going to tape for a year because we're a year ahead. I've heard that Dan seems to think we're going to tape in the summer.
Michelle: This summer?
Ryan: Yeah. Well we only tape three weekends out of the year now. I don't know. You know what, in a way I'm kind of looking forward to just spending time up north. We have a lot of shows. Within the next year, I'll get antsy again but summer seems a little quick. I mean maybe Oct, Nov would be nice I think. A little break, and maybe find some new people. I've always wanted to mix it up a, but it's hard to do.
Michelle: You know there's a lot of long time Whose Line fans that would like to see that.
Ryan: Oh I'd like to see that, but we're also talking network TV where they really want people to get a sense of who's on the show. British TV is a little different.
Michelle: Lately the network has been showing a bunch of reruns to the point that I'm really not watching the show that much anymore.
Michelle: Are you guys at all worried with people getting bored with the show?
Ryan: Well I'll tell you…when it gets to a network type thing, you don't really have a say when they show it. What they're using Whose Line for, because it's such a cheap show to do, is kind of a utility show, so if something gets canceled they'll put it on there. If something opposite is us like the Super bowl or something, they'll put it there, because it's a utility show. We have so many of them. And it can't really get worn out, because I think different people watch it at different times. The people that don’t watch it Thursday that watch Friends might watch it on a Tuesday at another time. It's never going to get huge ratings. It's never going to get an Emmy. We realize what the show is, but it's also a show that a lot of people enjoy, and from their perspective, it's very inexpensive to do. You know you get three or four shows out of every show. There's no sets. There's no writers. It's a very cheap show to do...inexpensive I should say. But yet, it has a lot of fans, so they're not going to take it off, and it also has the fans they're looking for, the age range.
Michelle: You're talking about how they have a year's worth of episodes taped, why don't they show more new episodes?
Ryan: Well they want to space it. They don't want to run out too quick.
Michelle: Do you remember which episode of DCS you did wear your wedding ring on?
Ryan: I can't remember what episode it was. Oswald had one too. I don't have to worry about it now, because I lost it about a week ago again. That's my second one I've lost. I always take it off when I play golf too, and I always seem to lose it when I play golf.
Michelle: Do you enjoy the live DC shows?
Ryan: Those I do, because they are the only DCS I do where I'm actually nervous doing them, and not for the improv part of it. For the written part of it, because if you blow a line, you blow a line. The improv's funny, because it's whatever you make up, but if you miss a line, you're screwing someone else up, because they're supposed to have a line coming off you, but that's the only part I get nervous about, and then the fact that it's live. It's not live taped. We do it three times. It's actually live in every time zone, so that's the fun thing about it too we get to do it for each time zone, so it's always different and usually the last one is the loosest and the best.
Michelle: I went to the last taping for this last one and the one before that, and it was so much fun.
Ryan: Well then you know what it's like. It's like 3-2-1 go.
Michelle: What is your most embarrassing moment on WL?
Ryan: ...I felt pretty embarrassed when I broke that glass with my head.
Michelle: Oh on Drew's desk.
Ryan: Yeah. That was kind of a goofy thing to do. Other than that I don't think I've ever been embarrassed on the show. I don't usually do stuff that would embarrass me. Even when like Colin will grab me in the crotch or something like that. I mean it's Colin, you know (laughing). His wife’s done that to me on stage.
Michelle: I think I was reading in the Second City book that you actually made her pee on stage because you made her laugh so hard.
Ryan: She says that. I don't remember that.
Michelle: You don't remember that?
Ryan: No, I don't remember that, but she used to like to laugh on stage that's for sure.
Michelle: I think we actually might have seen her over at the Second City alumni show one time. Laura is sure that we did, but I don't remember it.
Ryan: I don't know cuz she doesn't really know a lot of those people. She's Toronto. She worked with people like Martin Short she worked with. Just the years before I came there.
Michelle: When you're done in show business, what is the one single thing you want to be remembered for?
Ryan: How do you answer this and not be corny (laughing)?
Ryan: Not show business?
Michelle: When you're done in show business what do you want to be remembered for?
Ryan: Oh, I don't really care if I'm remembered in show business. I'd rather be remembered by my kids as a good dad or my wife as a good husband. I mean do people go gee Larry Storch was a great actor in F-Troop? It's a sitcom. It's television. There's more important things.
Michelle There's a rumor going around the Tony Slattery's going to be making an appearance on WL this summer.
Ryan: Oh really. I haven't heard that. Of course I never know…I didn't know Josie was going to do it until about a week before. Drew and I, even though we're producers, we try and stay out of all that, because Dan really knows what he's doing when it comes to that show. He lives that show. He lives it and breaths it to the point where it's really irritating. He can remember a game from nine years ago and tell you every word in it. He lives that show, so he's the best guy to have doing that show, and even when we do pickups in the show, and it seems like it's getting boring, because it's at the end of the show, but what people don’t realize, that aren’t actually in the studio, is that he's putting together three shows. So he's got to have intros for three shows. He has to have go out for commercials on three shows. He has to come back from commercials on three shows. So actually he's putting together three shows within an hour, which is quite an amazing thing to do, because he can't come back and do pickups. He has to put it together so he has intros and extros to everything, points, and that's why it seems boring, but when you consider what he's doing, it's really not that long a time.
Michelle: Yeah. By the end everyone is ready to go home.
Ryan: Oh we are too, but at the same time, I realize what he's doing, and if people want to get paid for three or four shows just by doing one show, which we do, it's not bad to wait around for a half hour.
Michelle: How many pairs of shoes do you have, and what's your favorite pair?
Ryan: You mean the shoes I wear on the show?
Michelle: Yeah. Those fancy ones.
Ryan: He phoned me actually yesterday. He's got some more pairs for me. I hadn't heard from him in about a year, but he said he made up a few new pairs for me. This guy’s really cool. He does all the shoes for...there's a band called Reverend Horton Heat. He does all their shoes and stuff. I don't have that many. Maybe 13 or 14. I like the flames. I like the blue ones.
Michelle: I like those ones too.
Ryan: He made me a pair of golf shoes cuz I golf a lot. He made me a pair of golf shoes with flames on them. They're pretty cool.
Michelle: Is there anything else that freaks you out, besides airplanes and roller coasters?
Ryan: Oh there's lots of things. Airplanes, roller coasters, snakes, spiders, being alone too much, LA drivers.
Michelle: Oh I hear you.
Ryan: There's lots of things. You know restaurants that have a "C."
Michelle: (laughing) I hope you avoid restraints with a "C."
Ryan: I do but you know sometimes they're hard to spot.
Michelle: What's the strangest experience you've ever had with a fan? And I don’t want to hear my name mentioned.
Ryan: Yeah, no you won't. Strange thing with a fan...I had a playboy bunny write me one time and tell me what month to look in to see her. I thought that was kind of weird. Not knowing me, and considering I was at that time probably 37, and she was like 20. That was kind of weird, and actually more weird in the sense that there's probably people who act on that (laughing). Actually, you know most of the people that come up to me are really good, but I think I've changed a lot since I did stand up too. When I was a young guy doing stand up, when people would come up and say good show, I'd be kind of like yeah, yeah thanks. Where now, I just try to talk to people when they come up to me. Sometimes people are drunk, and you have to kind of blow them off or you'll be there for 45 minutes, but there's always a way to do it. A nice way. There's a lot of kids that write in for Whose Line. When kids write in, I think it's cool. I'm a big kid fan.
Michelle: What's the strangest experience you've ever had while on stage performing?
Ryan: I don’t know if it was strange, but I thought it was a bit weird. When I was just starting to get interested in my wife, I worked at a place Punchlines in Vancouver. She was a waitress there, and she kind of knew I liked her, but she went out one night with her brother and got drunk, and they ate at some chicken place, and she brought back chicken, and there were only about ten people in the club, and she started throwing chicken at me on stage.
Michelle: Started throwing chicken at you?
Ryan: Yeah. Like left over chicken. I thought that was kind of weird. Why she would do it, I don't know except she was really drunk, but I married her anyway years later...to my credit I think.
Michelle: Are you in the new Star Wars movie?
Ryan: (laughing) no. (this question caught him off guard, and he seemed to think it was pretty funny.)
Michelle: See you get to hear all these things from me.
Ryan: No I'm not (laughing).
Michelle: The only thing I have left to ask you is there anything you'd like to say to all the people that read the boards?
Ryan: .I'm really glad they love the show, and I'm glad everybody has their favorites and stuff. You know sometimes I don't think they realize that...most of us, I mean you can see it because you're here. They can't, but when people come up like that and stuff, we're all people that got really lucky and are doing what we want to do, and we enjoy working with each other, and I work with some extremely talented people, and they never let me forget that. I think it's great the people love the show and for the people that like the old one better, well there's things about the old one that I like better too but everything you know...I liked Bob Saget on America’s Funniest Videos too… but things change all the time. A lot of times for the better, and it has to keep changing. I think if it was like the old show in a lot of ways it wouldn't be good now, just because it would be boring as well, and it'll change. If it goes on for any length of time, you'll see new people that'll come up that the fans will start to love. Colin and I will probably be gone in a few years (laughing). Both of us you know we start the show and look at each other and go ahhhh cuz these young guys are doing back flips, and Chip's doing splits and shit and we're just like oh man.
Michelle: I think a lot of people see the show and that kind of stuff, like the physical humor, impresses people right oft the bat, but I think what you and Colin do…
Ryan: Well you see Colin and I, what we have working is, and we realize it…the thing about Colin and I is we've known each other since we were 18 years old and I'm 42 and he's 43. I think he's a little older than me. And I've never ever phoned Colin at his home and he's never phoned me at my home. This is in 22, 23 years, but whenever we see each other, it's like we just saw each other yesterday. We enjoy working with each other. We've never had a fight. We've never had crosswords with each other. We've never discussed anything we wanted to do. Everything is always a surprise to us. He generally is the only guy that cracks me up on stage to the point where I can't go on some of the stuff he says. He's a great guy man. He's the nicest guy in the world. All these people are. Chip's got 3 kids and he's married. We're all family people. We're all good people, and we just enjoy doing what we do. It's a great venue to do it. We're happy.
Michelle: And you make us happy.
Ryan: Good. Perfect.
Michelle: Well that's it.
Ryan: Cool, Thanks.
Michelle: Thank you! Let me turn this thing off.