Improv comedy ensures laughs

McClatchy Newspapers

It’s been 25 years since “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” began a decade-long run on British television, and about seven years since an American version concluded about eight years of telecasts on ABC. But the format of the improvisational comedy can still provide laughs in the right uninhibited hands.

The CW is offering new installments of “Whose Line” beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday with back-to-back half-hours. Aisha Tyler has succeeded Drew Carey as host, but the regular performers include Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, veterans of the British and ABC shows, and Wayne Brady, whose rise to fame really began with the ABC series.

As with previous versions, the show features four improvisers who are given different tasks by Tyler or from audience suggestions, and then must figure out on the spot what to do. It may be as simple as coming up with a line you wouldn’t want to hear in a weight-loss commercial, or as complicated as having two performers play all the gadgets the other two would use on a vacation trip.

It’s silly, often risque, and full of surprises and laughs.

The panelists joining Brady, Mochrie and Stiles — Gary Anthony Williams, Heather Ann Campbell and Keegan Michael Key — are skilled enough. The CW version also brings in celebrity guests, among them “Glee’s” Kevin McHale, “The Walking Dead’s” Lauren Cohan and “The Vampire Diaries’” Candice Accola.

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