‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’: Richard Simmons’ Episode Took Forever to Film
Now on The CW, Whose Line Is It Anyway? continues entertaining fans who stuck with this comedy improv franchise for decades. Over the years, many of the same panelists continued with the TV show (particularly Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie) without ever aging. And the guest stars make all the difference, sometimes more than others.
On occasion, the show has had guest stars not that well versed in improvisational ability. The greatest names in this circle were guest shots from legends like Sid Caesar and even Robin Williams.
When exercise guru Richard Simmons appeared on the show, it was more than an unconventional choice. Regardless, Simmons ended up being the funniest of any guest for one reason.
Richard Simmons participated in ‘Living Scenery’
One of the most popular improv games on Whose Line Is It Anyway? is Living Scenery, aka someone portraying inanimate objects. Richard Simmons was a good enough sport to take part in this without having to say a word.
In one sketch, he pretended to be a jet ski with Colin Mochrie “riding” him while and Stiles portrayed a couple on vacation. As Mochrie acted out the bit, Simmons was faced looking directly into Mochrie’s genital area, causing Simmons to do a head movement depicting a certain sex act.
Of course, this caused the panel and the audience to erupt in laughter, excessively. Yes, the laughing got so intense, they had to stop taping at one point.
Not many comedians who appeared on the show can say they had to stop tape over being too funny. Others might say this was done at the expense of Simmons who was always rumored to be gay.
How long did it take for this episode to finish taping?
According to the above IMDb trivia page, the Simmons episode ended up being the longest ever show to tape. Just about everyone was laughing hysterically, including the crew, requiring breaks in-between segments.
Most people took the above move in Living Scenery as a sign Simmons had publicly come out as gay, even though he never officially has. In today’s context, that improv sketch might come off as being a bad way to get him to admit to it.
As fans of him say in places like Quora, Simmons considers it a personal issue. With Simmons’ mysterious behavior in recent years, though, it makes that notorious episode above worth looking back on.
All evidence points to this episode airing without editing in 2003, despite being in prime-time on ABC in those days.
What did Richard Simmons really think about this episode?
Simmons never has made comment about this episode, probably because it was apparently never set up. Also, who can resist getting this many laughs, no matter if at one’s own expense?
Media sites like Rare still talk about this episode as the time everything fell apart on the set of Whose Line Is It Anyway? when improv participants seldom broke character. Those who saw it originally likely still laugh about it, especially over Simmons’ straight-faced expressions while playing the jet ski.
Since Simmons seldom does interviews anymore, says Mic, it might be interesting to see his take on it looking back. In the context of more gay people coming out without fear in recent years, the above episode might be looked at askance as mockery.
Then again, Whose Line Is It Anyway? is all about spontaneity. Anything happening in this particular episode probably never intended to set up Simmons and just happened by chance. That same freeform attitude is still present on the CW show, if now more mindful of anything overly prurient.