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Ryan Lee Stiles (born April 22, 1959) is a Canadianmarker-Americanmarker actor, comedian, director, and voice actor whose work is often associated with improvisational comedy. He is best known for his improv and co-production work on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the role of Lewis Kiniski on The Drew Carey Show. He currently plays Herb Melnick on the CBS comedy Two and a Half Men.

Early life and career

Stiles was born in Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker, the youngest of five children. His father, Sonny, was a fishing plant supervisor. His mother's name is Irene. When he was ten, his Canadianmarker-born parents moved the family to Richmond, British Columbiamarker. At the age of seventeen, he dropped out of high school to pursue a career in comedy. He worked in his father's fish-processing plant to earn a living while doing stand-up at Punchlines Comedy Club in Vancouver, British Columbia and performing improv with Vancouver TheatreSports League. In 1986, Stiles successfully auditioned for a berth at Torontomarker's renowned Second City comedy ensemble.

Television work

By 1989, he had gained the attention of the producers of the Britishmarker improvisational comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Stiles was a regular on the show until 1998, and the show's short production season allowed him to make numerous television and motion picture appearances in the United States.

In 1995, Stiles was tapped by American comic Drew Carey to be a regular on his sitcom, The Drew Carey Show. He played Drew's smart but underachieving best friend, Lewis Kiniski. Stiles' first line in the pilot episode of the The Drew Carey Show, "And that's why the French don't wash," is a line he'd previously used in an episode of the British version of Whose Line?. In 1998, Carey successfully lobbied ABC to get an American version of Whose Line? produced. Following the final season of the British version in 1998, the American version premiered, with both Stiles and Carey credited as executive producers. Stiles was featured in every episode of the American series, which was produced until 2003. New episodes continued to air, however, for several years thereafter.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Stiles was the most prolific performer on the original UK version of Whose Line?, appearing in 76 of the series 136 episodes (including compilations). He first appeared in the fifth episode of the second season, which aired in late 1989. He appeared in one other episode of that season, before returning for four episodes of the third season. His prominence increased with each season, including appearances in every episode of season 4 which was filmed in New York; ultimately appearing in every episode from the seventh season onwards.

He and Colin Mochrie were the only two performers to appear in every episode of the US version, though Wayne Brady also became a regular near the beginning of the second season.

Stiles was known for several recurring impressions he performed on the shows, performed both at his own decision and as an assignment in games. These included Carol Channing, Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and that of a deer. He made clear his dislike of the musical segments of the show, particularly the game "Hoedown," often reacting negatively (or sarcastically positively) to its being announced. Other than in early UK playings, Stiles was always the last performer to sing in "Hoedown" and other similar musical games, allowing him more time to devise lyrics, and giving him the final punchlines, as well as injecting (usually not-so subtle) jabs at the hoedown itself, or of the host for having him perform in it.

Stiles had first met Colin Mochrie years before while doing stand up. They went on to perform together first in Vancouver TheaterSports then in Second City, Toronto. The partnership continued when Stiles convinced producers to keep Mochrie in the UK version of Whose Line where their partnership was made the most of. There were a number of games which exclusively paired Mochrie and Stiles at every playing. Though other performers did so, he was the most common performer to make bald jokes at Mochrie's expense. In return, Mochrie often made jokes about Stiles's height, nose, attractiveness, and tendency to wear exotic, flamboyant shoes.

Stiles took part in the regular practice of mocking host Clive Anderson on the UK series, though he did so with less frequency than others. On the American version, however, he was among the most frequent mockers of Carey, especially during the Hoedowns.

Stiles almost always dressed in a button-up shirt; typically a dress shirt, and was one of the few performers to commonly wear a necktie. One of Stiles's notable trademarks on the US series were his dress shoes, many of which were an unusual color, most notably his blue shoes, or had a flashy pattern of several colors. This was due to the fact that he often had to get shoes custom-made due to his height and shoe size. During one Scenes from a Hat he made light of his shoes by saying, "Please Santa, just a pair of brown shoes". Stiles' shoes were sometimes mocked by Carey and the other performers. In addition, a running gag on both versions of the show had the producers trying (and invariably failing) to stump Stiles, by giving him increasingly bizarre mannerisms or characters in the games that require him to act them out. When reading them just prior to the scene, he and Carey would often laugh at what was written on the cards.

Stiles received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 2002 for his work on the show.

Personal life

In 1981, Stiles met Patricia McDonald at Punchlines where she was waitressing. They lived together for seven years before marrying in 1988. They have three children (Sam, Mackenzie, and Claire). When not working in Hollywood, he lives at his home on Lake Samishmarker outside Bellingham, WAmarker, where he has opened the Upfront Theatre, a small theatre dedicated to live improv comedy.

Stiles reportedly has trouble finding shoes that fit him because of his very large shoe size, 15. He often has shoes custom-made for him by George Esquivel. Jokes pertaining to Stiles' shoes on Whose Line Is It Anyway? were quite common, as well as references to his large nose and height, with him currently standing at tall.

Stiles once lived in a house previously owned by Liberace in Sherman Oaks, Californiamarker, but sold the house several years ago.

Other appearances

Stiles has a new ad campaign for Playskool, talking to playful toddlers in a manner as if they were adults. For example: "Where do you see yourself in eighteen months?"

Ryan appeared in the 1991 film Hot Shots as Mailman Farnham, and also starred in the 1993 sequel Hot Shots! Part Deux, as marine Rabinowitz.

Since 2004, Stiles has been seen as the recurring character Dr. Herb Melnick in several episodes of the comedy Two and a Half Men which stars his Hot Shots co-stars Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer. Stiles also made short guest appearances on Murphy Brown, Mad About You, Mad TV, Corner Gas, and Dharma & Greg. In July 2008, he was a guest star on Reno 911! as Sergeant Clift, an acting coach.


Year Title Role Other Notes
1985 Rainbow War ?
1991 Hot Shots! 'Mailman' Farnham
1993 Hot Shots! Part Deux Rabinowitz
1997 Courting Courtney Chad Gross
2003 Nobody Knows Anything Harold (uncredited)
2006 The Extra Clyde
2009 Astro Boy Mr. Pistachio (voice)


TV shows
Year Title Role Other Notes
1989-2006 Whose Line Is It Anyway himself
1995-2003 The Drew Carey Show Lewis Kiniski
2004-present Two and a Half Men Dr. Herb Melnick


  1. Ryan Stiles Biography (1959-)
  2. As seen in many episodes of season 1 released to DVD; episode 22 season 7 (Let's Make A Date game)

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