The ‘Whose Line’ Crew Is Going Public with How Little Money They Made on the Show
Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway? the show where everything is made up and the performers don’t matter.
That’s essentially what Warner Bros. Television has been telling Colin Mochrie and his fellow Whose Line veterans for years through a pattern of poor compensation and improper accreditation according to a revealing Vulture interview with the Canadian comedy icon. Back in November, Mochrie made a stir when he tweeted that he and the original Whose Line cast were about to “shoot our final season,” which fans took to mean that The CW had canceled the improvised comedy series — a rumor the network emphatically denied.
Mochrie clarified to Vulture that Whose Line Season 20 will be the last season for himself, Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady because the mainstay trio who have been playing “scenes from a hat” together since the 1990s are finally fed up with what they find to be unfair compensation. The only people in the world who somehow managed to do improv for a living didn’t even get residuals.
“If it comes back, it probably won’t be with this cast,” Mochrie said of Whose Line after its 20th season. “There is a complicated relationship with the show. The cast loves each other, and the actual shooting is always fun. We are all grateful that the show gave us a showcase and allowed us to be able to tour. The downside is that we never received fair compensation for the success of the show.”
According to Mochrie, “We provide the content but don’t get paid as ‘writers.’ We never received residuals for a show that’s been shown around the world since its inception.” Mochrie’s umbrage with the way performers are categorized and compensated raises questions of how television studios should reward the unique work of improvisation — there is no TV improvisers’ union that would be equivalent to the Writers Guild of America. “Seeing announcements about the sale to the show overseas or to HBO Max can get irritating,” Mochrie added.
Despite his decision to leave Whose Line, Mochrie doesn’t dwell on the inequities that would color his 25-year career in improvised television. “I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I learned long ago that this business is not fair, and being bitter about it gets you nowhere,” he reflected. “The beauty and the curse of improv is you forget everything once it’s gone.”
In this next scene, the CW will try to recast the only three guys who mattered on a show that most people forgot was still on the air.