Are you one of the millions who enjoyed the wacky improv hijinks of Drew Carey and the Whose Line Is It Anyway? gang before the show was cancelled in 2003? If so, you’ll probably want to catch ABC’s latest improv comedy, Trust Us With Your Life, since it’s pretty much the same show, featuring a nearly identical premise and many of the same actors.
The concept is straightforward: in each episode, goofy host Fred Willard (Best in Show) chats up a different celebrity guest about key moments in his or her life. Then, in the second half of the show, former Whose Line stars Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie hit the stage to perform wacky improv re-enactments of these moments, even bringing the stars in on the action.
Brady and Mochrie are joined by a revolving roster of performers, some of whom will be familiar to Whose Line viewers, such as Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops, while those who watched reruns of the original British version (which used to air constantly on the Comedy Network) will recognize British actress Josie Lawrence. Other improv-ers include MADtv star Nicole Parker, Jonathan Mangum (who appeared on The Wayne Brady Show and the Brady-hosted Let’s Make a Deal) and British actor David Armand. (Why so many Brits? The show is based on a BBC show called Fast and Loose, and was shot in London using the same set as the British show, presumably to save a couple of shekels.)
With the exception of Ricky Gervais (who’ll appear in an upcoming episode), the guest stars are decidedly C-list, including David Hasselhoff, Jerry Springer, Florence Henderson, Jane Seymour and Mark Cuban — it can’t be a coincidence that every single one of them has appeared on Dancing With the Stars. Serena Williams and Osbourne siblings Jack and Kelly kick things off, appearing, respectively, in the series’ first two episodes, which air back-to-back. I hope I don’t ruin it for anyone by revealing that one of the actors puts on Ozzy-style sunglasses and staggers about yelling, “Sharon!”
Like Whose Line, the improv on Trust Us With Your Life can be notoriously uneven. Thankfully, there’s nobody better at this stuff than Mochrie and Brady, who are experts at eschewing subtlety and ensuring the laughs are fast, cheap and easy. Didn’t like that last joke? Don’t worry, there’ll be another one coming along any second now.
There are a few new bits — including one lifted from Fast and Loose in which the actors lie on the ground while ceiling-mounted cameras film them as if they were standing — but mostly it’s the same old shtick. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; there’s a reason why Whose Line became ABC’s go-to show to throw on the air anytime they needed to fill the timeslot of something they just cancelled. The show is mainstream all the way; although the comedy may occasionally veer toward naughtiness, it never crosses the line. As Jay Leno’s enduring success demonstrates, you can never underestimate the appeal of slightly bland, moderately funny, inoffensive material.
In fact, as was the case with Whose Line, the comedy is about as far from edgy and dangerous as you can get; we’re talking mainstream, middle-of-the-road yuks aimed at the folks who stand in line to catch The Captain and Tennille in Branson, Missouri. Snarky, urban hipsters can feel free to move along.
Then again, the beauty of a show like this is that practically anyone can tune in and have a laugh. Don’t expect anything too deep, too edgy or too original, because there’s not a lot going on that you haven’t already seen before. Hey, at least it’s better than watching reruns.