Laura Hall

composer : singer : songwriter : musician
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Whose Line is it Anyway?
    

                                Back on the set of Whose Line is it Anyway

          

It was the craziest deja vu going back to tape a new round of Whose Line episodes. Everything was the same but different. For one thing, we shot in the same studio. The stage was the exact same layout, just different colors. A lot of the producers, crew, etc. came back. And of course the three main improvisors are back; Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie and Wayne Brady.

Plus, Linda Taylor is with me again to do the music (I wouldn't have done it without her). Even though we hadn't worked together in a while, we fell right back into a great groove. We got new gear and instruments, and feel like we can play anything they throw at us. It's great to get to play with her and Wayne again.

But here's the biggest difference (besides the fact that Linda and I both have long hair now). We have a brand new host, the lovely and talented Aisha Tyler. Drew Carey was a great host, and I hope he'll come back to do a guest spot some time, but Aisha is making it her own, bringing a different style and her own energy.

We also got a lot of new people in the “fourth chair” spot, including Keegan-Michael Key, Nyima Funk, Gary Anthony Williams, Heather Anne Campbell and Jonathan Mangum. We've also had favorites like Greg Proops, , Jeff Davis and Brad Sherwood. It's been great to improvise with the guys who I've played with so often, cause I know they've got my back at all times. But it's also good to bring in some new improvisors to shake things up, and everyone did a fantastic job. Plus, we got some fun new games to play.

And the last change, I'm happy to announce, is that they no longer feel the need to dress us like Easter eggs, in bright pastel colors. In fact, I even got to wear some of my own clothes. That makes me very happy. And Linda Taylor even more happy.

We shot the new episodes very quickly; the British producers got into town on a Sunday and we started taping that Friday. In two weekends we shot 12 new episodes, which is crazy fast. It was good to have a balance of familiar and brand new. It allowed us to jump right back in, but also have a fresh take on things.

Be sure to watch the new Whose Line episodes, to help make sure the show gets picked up. I hope we get a chance to make a bunch of new ones, cause they're so fun to make and to watch. And on a practical level, that baby I was pregnant with in the first episodes is now in high school. I'm gonna have college to pay for!

New episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway air Friday nights on the CW Network. You'll see me wearing what my husband calls my “I'm-so-happy-to-be-working” smile!

          


Whose Line was the most amazing gig for me.  We started out doing six hybrid episodes, shot in America but with the British host.  We ended up doing 216 episodes over eight seasons with Drew Carey as the host.  It was the most fun, intense, crazy job I’ve ever had.

I've played lots of live improv with almost every improv group in Chicago and L.A. I got the audition through Ron West, who I knew from The Second City in Chicago, and had become a Whose Line producer.  I’d played lots of live improv with almost every improv group in Chicago and L.A.  I auditioned with Brad Sherwood and Wayne Brady, and we all got hired out of it. 

When we started out, I was the only musician, but then they added Linda Taylor on guitar.  Later on we also  had horn players sometimes. I didn’t know Linda before she auditioned, but I could tell from the minute we started playing together that we were going to get along great. We've done lots of projects together since then.  

We would tape over a three day weekend, and did tons of games that would later get cut into the shows.  And yes, we were really improvising, but no, they’re not that funny all the time. The secret is in the editing. Some of the games would go well, some not so well; that’s the nature of improv. (And actually, if something went really badly, they would keep it, because that can be funny too!)  And although we were good, the editing made us look more brilliant than we actually are.

We had lots of guest stars in later seasons.  Richard Simmons was of course totally crazy! But my favorites were Sid Caesar, who was a perfect gentleman and flirted with Linda and I, and Florence Henderson, who we'd all I’d grown up watching on The Brady Bunch.

Whose Line FAQs

Can you send me the sheet music/MP3 file for                  the Hoe Down (or Irish Drinking Song)?
This is the question people ask me the most. I’m sorry, but all the music on Whose Line is the property of the show, and they’ve chosen not to publish it, so it’s not available in any form.

However, I've created a 2 cd set, Improv Karaoke, which has tracks in different styles (including one similar to the Hoe Down) designed to be used for song improv.  It also has demos, tips and pointers to help you get started.  You can find out more at: www.improvkaraoke.com

I’m a musician and want to play for improv groups,         how do I get started?
The best way is to immerse yourself in it. I’d suggest   taking an improv class even if you don’t want to be an actor/improviser. It will help you get to know improvisers   in your area, and teach you the basic elements of improv. Then start an improv group yourself, or ask an existing one if you can play with them. Most improv groups are thrilled to have a musician who wants to work with them. And study lots of different kinds of music, try to get a basic grasp of what makes a style of music (like blues or reggae) sound like that style.

Can you give me a phone number/e-mail address for Ryan/Wayne/whoever my favorite is? I’m his biggest fan!
Not a chance.

On the Road with Drew Carey and the Improv Allstars

During the time we were making Whose Line, and continuing after, various groups from the show toured doing live shows. I mostly toured with Drew Carey and the Improv Allstars.  In 2002 we did a USO tour of airforce bases in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman.  In 2005 we hit the road for a 10 week, 60 city tour, playing all sorts of venues and traveling in every vehicle imaginable.  We even had a show cancel because Hurricane Katrina flattened the auditorium. 

We also played in Las Vegas for Super Bowl Weekend for several years.  A couple times rock legend, Joe Walsh, sat in with Linda and I!  We got to learn a bunch of James Gang, Eagles and Joe Walsh tunes straight from the source.  I couldn’t believe I was playing “Rocky Mountain Way" with Joe himself.

         

Click here for more photos from Whose Line is it Anyway, and The Improv Allstars on the road
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