Comic Greg Proops has a simple image of himself: "I'm like Mt. Rushmore. People know I'm there, but they don't visit me much anymore." Say what?
If this shocking -- though obscure -- admission is true, it's probably because the Los Angeles-based stand-up comic and improviser spends much of his time globe-trotting, feeding fans of the Proopdog bits of his offbeat wit. At one point, Proops's humor was a staple on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, a show that began on the BBC and now airs on Comedy Central and the ABC Family channel.
His own acceptance on the original British version in 1989 was, in his modest words, "pure luck and chance." Yet this Yank's rapid-fire non sequiturs apparently work well with the Brit-wit concept, and he still makes frequent trips to England to perform. "I can be an idiot, live there, and be paid for it," he notes.
But improv is far different from the comedy that Proops brings to showcases such as the Comedy Works. "Improv is like playing in a jazz band," he explains. "You hope if you're off, someone else can pick you up. In standup, I'm Napoleon. In control, with horrible delusions of grandeur."
His Napoleonic swing through the country is part of what he calls the "End of the World" tour. "We're fighting SARS; there are wars set to trigger the apocalypse. And I've chosen to make fun of reality TV," he points out.
Still, he admits to taking precautions against monkeypox, a disease that, though terrible, has the "funniest name I've heard in the past five years," he says. To stay healthy, the comic is traveling with a wristband, an amulet and a "small monkeypox shrine." Anyone who shares such topical concerns should migrate to the Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street, for his shows at 8 and 10 p.m. tonight; Proops scoops again on Saturday, June 21. Call 303-595-3637 for more information. -- Ernie Tucker
Trickery, disguise, duels, mistaken identity, murder, infidelity, madness, gypsies -- Red Rocks Amphitheatre is your one stop for drama tonight, thanks to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's free Opera on the Rocks concert. The program, a lively crash course in opera, includes excerpts from works by Rossini, Mozart, Wagner, Bizet and Puccini, among others. The 7:30 p.m. performance kicks off the CSO's Summer Concert Series, which presents popular works in outdoor settings. Conductor Adam Flatt and the CSO will be joined by mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, baritone Bradley Thompson and bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam of Opera Colorado. Listeners may see some operatic sparks fly as the high notes echo off the Morrison rocks. Call 303-893-4100 for more information. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz
Trocadero jazzes up the Carousel Pavilion
There are plenty of memories haunting the land at 38th Avenue and Tennyson Street, where the original Elitch Gardens stood. Some of them, as Thomas Edmonds Hardy knows, must remain ghostly. The famed Trocadero Ballroom, where generations of Coloradans heard the latest sounds, was torn down in 1975 and is now consigned to memory. But the circa-1891 Carousel Pavilion survived, and after a $500,000 facelift last year, it's now ready to renew the Trocadero's legacy. That's the sentiment behind the Trocadero Jazz program, which kicks off at 4 p.m. today with the Sheryl Renee Quartet.
"This is in honor of the tradition," says Hardy, co-founder of the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation. "And beginning with Sheryl Renee is a perfect start to the series," since her quartet is just the band to get people dancing -- another evocation of the past.
The series includes two more jazz shows, set for July 13 and August 10. Admission for visitors twelve and older is a $5 donation to the foundation; for more information, call 303-477-3006 or go to www.info@ElitchTheatreFdn.org. -- Ernie Tucker
A Bit of Brit
A garden is ready for its close-up
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As current events prompt the media to pound it into our heads that we are, for better or for worse, Americans, a pleasant dose of Anglophilia, complete with tea in the garden, may be just what some of us need. The one-man play Old Herbaceous opens at 10 a.m. today in the cozy Hobbit Hole area at Hudson Gardens, 6115 South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. Adapted by Alfred Shaughnessy (once a writer for the British TV series Upstairs, Downstairs) from the novel by Reginald Arkell, Old Herbaceous was once performed for the royal family at Windsor Castle. The play takes place in the greenhouse of an English manor, where the single character, an old gardener, divulges the story of his life.
Though Bill Berry, who plays the gardener, is the only actor, the manor itself is an important character, explains Kristi Manz of Hudson Gardens.
"You get the idea that he is sweet on the lady of the manor," she says.
Directed by Pamela Clifton, Old Herbaceous will be performed both mornings and evenings through July 26. Tickets are $12, or $10 for Hudson Gardens members or members of the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, and include a proper English tea at intermission as well as admission to the gardens. For a complete schedule and tickets, call 303-797-8565 or visit www.hudsongardens.org. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz