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Extemporizing with Greg Proops

Published by marco on

I’ve recently started listening to the Gregg Proops podcast, called The Smartest Man in the World. He has a objectively terrible LA accent that really needs getting used to, but he’s a wonderfully extemporaneous, stream-of-consciousness, improvisational comedian whose claim to fame is “Whose Line is it Anyway?”.[1]

Let’s start off with a sample from the podcast called “Hearts”. Proops was discussing how the British newspapers were disparaging “pop royalty” Jay-Z and Beyoncé for not being appropriately somber and being too self-absorbed at the Louvre:

“How else would a rapper couple whose whole life is involved with self-aggrandizement, how else would they view the Louvre? You didn’t think they were going to stand there with a fucking sketch book, did you? Take detailed notes on the fucking “Winged Victory of Samothrace”? […]”

He went on to point out that “Beyoncé made a 5-hour documentary about herself for HBO *that had no humor in it*. […]” so how could we possibly expect her to provide us with any insight on the Louvre? She doesn’t even understand the deep irony of making a 5-hour autobiography and takes herself seriously as a living icon throughout. Having noted that, we should all do ourselves a favor and forget about her place in our society while still, perhaps, appreciating the bits of good music she manages to produce.[2]

In the episode named “Periwinkle”, he addressed a sulking heckler:

“You know…you have exactly thirty seconds to change your fucking attitude from one of dismal reprobation to one of enormous respect. That’s what’s going to happen at this fucking show. Or I’m going to play the “Immigrant Song” and dance the rest of this goddamned show. And that’s the whole show. Seriously. I don’t give a shit. I can’t be fired and I’ve already got my money.”

And this is from “Mandates”, when he, once again, plays The Immigrant Song, this time on tour in Sweden.

“You know what this song is doing? It’s begging for a village to be burned to the fucking ground. I’d take all the cattle and women. I’d take mushrooms, I’d go to the Caspian Sea, I’d trade for slaves, I’d take my boats overland to fucking Volgagrad. That’s what I’d fucking do. You should be proud that you come from the land of the ice and snow and the midnight sun, where the hot springs blow.”

And then he launched into a tirade on how the world works:

“Christian white people run the entire fucking boat. And when I say ‘Christian white people’, I mean people that are different colors too, that aren’t Christian. Well, how do you include them all in one boat? I’m talking about the men who run the world, whether they’re in India, in Indonesia or Russia or America or China….they’re all of the same stripe. We’re talking about men who perceive women as objects, who perceive the poor as a detriment to society, who perceive the war machine as the machine that they must stoke and fuel, because that’s the machine that they receive all the profits from, that they perceive civil rights and freedom of expression in the world to be the biggest threat to the world—not war, not poverty, not sickness, not mayhem, but the people who lead all the countries in Africa, every single country you can think of, what they perceive as the biggest threat to the world is the fact that we would be able to speak freely to one another, share ideas and, maybe, learn something from another culture. That’s what they’re afraid of. What they’re afraid of is that we might consider each other equals at any point—because that’s not how the fucking world works. When a giant corporation sets out to make profit and growth—and those are their only two goals—the thing they want is to set us against each other. But how do you mean giant corporations? I mean giant corporations like governments. Governments are giant corporations that [work] at the behest of other giant corporations. You are living in a Utopian ideal here [Sweden] insomuch as they take all of your fucking money for taxes—but you do get something out of it, like trains that run real fucking fast and liquor stores that close before you can get there.[3]

[1] I know that’s redundant but I don’t care.
[2] You know you’re already humming “If you like it, you shoulda put a ring on it” to yourself.
[3] With the bit at the end, he circled back around to the bitchfest with which he started the show, about how the state-sanctioned and -supported liquor stores in Sweden all close just when any normal person would be thinking of buying some booze for the evening.