Greg Proops, who appears at the Punch Line this week, is known for his erudite comedy. (Courtesy Idil Sukan/DRAW HQ

Greg Proops, who appears at the Punch Line this week, is known for his erudite comedy. (Courtesy Idil Sukan/DRAW HQ

Proops’ podcast is perfect medium for ‘Smartest Man’

More often than not, especially in a comedy club setting, Greg Proops is the smartest man in the room — the one with the quickest wit who’s equally adept at improvisation and stand-up. He’s a know-it-all with an astounding capacity for trivia, and an erudite, entertaining guide who offers tips about what in his not-so-humble opinion everyone must read, listen to and watch — as well as history he thinks everyone ought to know.

Proops — a Bay Area native who launched his “Smartest Man in the World” podcast five years ago and has hosted his “Proopcasts” in Amsterdam, Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Paris — is doing a live podcast Thursday at the Punch Line, opening a string of weekend appearances at the San Francisco comedy club.

He’s also an author. “The Smartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of Literacy, A Rancorous Reportage, A Concise Curriculum of Cool” (Touchstone, $25) — illustrated by his wife, Jennifer Canaga (aka the smartest woman in the world) — is his compendium of carefully curated historical facts, along with his favorite books, movies and albums.

He admits that the process of getting his fleeting thoughts down on paper was terrifying at first: “I stared the book down in hotel rooms for two goddamn years. Finally it wrestled the words out of me. Writing has to be coherent — onstage I only need to lie convincingly,” he says.

His distinctive voice and choice vocabulary come through in the book. He writes the way he talks, not pandering to audiences, but demanding they rise to his level. And Proops’ fans enjoy his performances not just for what he says, but how he says it.

A lifetime Giants fan, Greg devotes much of the book to arcane information about the Negro leagues and one of his idols, the inimitable Satchel Paige. And some of its funniest sections are about fantasy baseball leagues with unlikely teams, such as Roman Emperors, British Monarchs, Dictators, Women in History, American Presidents, and even Bombshells, Doxies and Dames.

While Proops doesn’t have immediate plans to write another book, he agrees with his wife that the “Proopcast” is his perfect medium.

“I love my niche. It is warm. I have something that cannot be bought. People want to interact with me. That is golden,” he says.

IF YOU GO
Greg Proops
Where: Punch Line, 444 Battery St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday (podcast taping), 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 397-7573, www.punchlinecomedyclub.com

 A Concise Curriculum of CoolA Rancorous ReportagecomedianGreg ProopsJennifer CanagapodcastSmartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of LiteracySmartest Man in the World

Just Posted

A man walks past the main entrance to the Hotel Whitcomb at Eighth and Market streets on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Closing hotels could disconnect hundreds from critical health care services

‘That baseline of humanity and dignity goes a long way’

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

The remnants of trees burned by the Dixie Fire near Antelope Lake, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (Christian Monterrosa/The New York Times)
California’s wildfires invisible effect: high carbon dioxide emissions

This summer California fires emitted twice as much CO2 as last year

Latinos are dying at a lower rate than white and Black people in California. However, Latinos have had the sharpest increase in the death rate in the last month, rising from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people in August to 4 per 100,000 in September. (iStock)
Who’s dying in California from COVID-19?

In recent months, those who are dying are younger

The numbers show nearly 14 percent of San Francisco voters who participated in the Sept. 14 recall election wanted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from elected office. (Shutterstock photo)
(Shutterstock photo)
How San Francisco neighborhoods voted in the Newsom recall

Sunset tops the list as the area with the most ‘yes’ votes

Most Read