Whose Line Is It Anyway? — which introduced a generation to both improvisational comedy and Ryan Stiles’ blue shoes — had an extraordinarily long life, as entertainment franchises go. It began as a British radio program (sorry, programme) in 1988, quickly morphed into a TV series that lasted 10 years, then hopped the pond for an eight-season run on ABC and ABC Family. The series’ last new episode aired just six years ago.
But in an age when nostalgia can be fairly instantaneous — note the tale of Les Misérables, which ran from 1987 to 2003 on Broadway, then was revived from 2006-2008, and will be revived again in March 2014 — half a dozen years may as well be a hundred.
It’s not really surprising, then, that thirsty comedy fans flipped out when The CW revealed in March that Whose Line would be back for 10 episodes this summer. Veteran improvisers Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, and Stiles will all appear in each installment; comedian Aisha Tyler is stepping in for Drew Carey as host.
The original cast’s involvement — as well as the few teaser clips The CW has released so far — should help soothe those who worry that Whose Line 4.0 won’t live up its earlier incarnations. That said, it’d be tough for anything to reach the heights of these 10 classic clips — which, if anything, have only gotten better with age.
Colin’s Meta-Green Screen Moment
The game is simple: Colin plays a newscaster delivering a report in front of a green screen. The screen’s contents are a mystery to him… but not to his fellow improvisers, the studio audience, or viewers at home. And on this particular occasion, Whose Line‘s producers decided to have a little bit of extra fun at their longtime employee’s expense.
Robin Williams gets in the game
Sharing a stage with a manic comedy icon like Williams would be enough to rattle even the most seasoned improviser — but somehow, the Whose Line gang managed to keep themselves composed throughout an entire episode, which culminated with this game of Props. Keep your ears peeled for the moment when Williams inadvertently steals his own joke from Aladdin.
Stephen Colbert shows off his skills
Another Whose Line MVP guest: Stephen Colbert, who cut his teeth as an improviser in Chicago. Here, he rhymes about being in an avalanche with Wayne Brady… and holds it together even when faced with Colin Mochrie, the world’s worst rapper.
Richard Simmons gets down and dirty
Of course, no discussion of Whose Line guests would be complete without this video of Richard Simmons’ surprise appearance, which led to an unforgettable edition of Living Scenery. Drew’s hysterical laughter could be the best part — until Colin climbs a tree to get a coconut.
Colin fluffs his Garfield
What, exactly, does that mean? We’ll never know — but that bizarre fake euphemism soon became one of the show’s funniest running jokes. (Another favorite: Everyone’s cracks about Ryan’s bizarre shoes.)
Ryan breaks the desk — without breaking character
In a game of Party Quirks, Ryan is assigned “Carol Channing Whose Head Keeps Getting Stuck to Things.” What could possibly go wrong?!
Tony kills the Hoedown
One of the funniest clips from the UK version of the show: The guys are asked to sing a hoedown about vasectomies. Things get off to a bit of a weak start — nice cop out, Colin — but by the time we get to British favorite Tony Slattery, things are definitely looking up. So to speak.
Wayne serenades a lunch lady
While pretending to strip. “On Monday… meatloaf. On Tuesday… steak.”
Ryan and Colin cross their wires
The members of Whose Line‘s most dynamic duo were perfectly in sync — usually. That said, some of their best moments came when they weren’t on the same page… as in this edition of Greatest Hits.
The Irish Drinking Song that wasn’t
Possibly the funniest Whose Line clip — period. Go in blind; it’s better if you don’t know what to expect. (The improvisers sure didn’t.)
Whose Line returns tonight at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.