Thanks to Colin Mochrie for calling in Thursday morning to promote his show at the Rialto with fellow Whose Line Is It Anyway alum Brad Sherwood. Both the interview, and show, went very well. Well, I assume the show went well, I wasn't able to make it.
I don't have an audio link for you, but as we did with the Rick Springfield interview, I'm posting the transcript -- the highlights at least -- of our chat.
I've edited it down a bit because I'm too lazy to type out the full 17-minute interview.
Mike Williams: What can fans expect with the show at the Rialto?
Colin Mochrie: Well, we like to say it's sort of a live version of Whose Line Is It Anyway, without the tall guy, the black guy, and the rich guy. The 'deadweight' actually we called them. A lot of games will be familiar to fans of Whose Line, and we have some different games that we play that we didn't have a chance to on the show because of time constraints or whatever.
MW: How did this tour with Brad come about?
CM: It was Brad's idea to go out and test the waters. We'd gone out as a group to Vegas and places like that, and the shows were great and a lot of fun, the only problem was, there were about 10 of us on stage, so you didn't ever really feel like you were able to warm up, or got to be a big part of the show, so Brad asked me and I said yes. That was about three years ago, and we've been having a great time.
It's great, we're both stage hogs so it's really a chance for us to make people watch us. There's nobody else on stage, and we have been having such a great time and the shows have been going very well, and it gives us a chance to experiment with games that we didn't get to do on the show. For example during this stage show we do the World's Most Dangerous Improv Game where we litter the stage with 100 live mousetraps and we walk around the stage barefoot and blindfolded.
MW: While doing an improv game...
CM: Yeah. It's really stupid. We're doing sort of an alphabet opera. We keep adding things to make it more and more stupid.
MW: Audience participation is important in your show, and I read that you and Brad don't really like to bring anyone onstage that seems too eager to be up there. You look for those that may be a bit shy and hesitant.
CM: Exactly. You don't want to bring someone onstage that wants to compete with you. Because improv is such an ensemble artform, you want someone that is going to help the scene. We usually pick couples because they feel a little safer with someone else they know on stage with them, and we try to make the stage the safest place in the world for them. We never try to humiliate them or anything because they are such a big part of the show.
MW: On Whose Line Is It Anyway, what were some of your favorite games, and what were some of the games you thought, "Oh no, not this one again"?
CM: Hoedown I hated, and I don't think that was a secret. I don't think anyone on the show really liked Hoedown, but for some reason, that was always one of the more popular games. We get asked all the time during the stage shows to do a hoedown, and it will never happen.
MW: Irish Drinking Song...
CM: That one was kinda fun, I always enjoyed Greatest Hits because I got a chance to sit down, and it gave Ryan and I a chance to banter and have fun and put it over to the singing guys and watch them perform. Scenes From A Hat was always fun. I like the games where you don't have to move around much.
MW: I always enjoyed Props, and Film Dub...
CM: Props was always a challenge because the props people would be workign in a room in the back that we were never allowed to go into, and they'd come out with these giant foam things and my first thought always was, "this looks like genitalia". And you can't use that. So it was always a little challenging.
MW: What kind of filter do you work with on stage? If a killer line comes into your head but you think that you shouldn't use it, how do you deal with that during a show?
CM: Well, Brad works with no filter. I'm the one with the conscience. It usually works out that very rarely does something filthy becomes the first thing that enters my mind. Sometimes things of questionable taste will come in, but I tend to squash those because there's a very fine line between making an audience laugh, and making them uncomfortable and turning against you. We are, basically, just wanting to do a show that's a lot of fun for everyone, so we're pretty good at keeping it that way.
MW: Doing what you do, you have to have a complete open mind, be brave, take chances, be willing to look like a fool just to get that laugh?
CM: It's pretty sad, pathetic really, but we'll do anything for a laugh. I think describing the mousetrap game pretty much shows that. We will go anywhere, anyhow to humiliate each other and ourselves just to get that audience participation.
MW: After all of these years doing improv, the two of you must have an assortment of techniques, or fallbacks so that in case a scene isn't quite going in the direction you want, you can change it up completely by just saying one line?
CM: You'd think so. Usually what happens, one of us just takes off our pants and hope that works.
MW: Or make a poop joke...
CM: Oh yeah.
MW: You were a shy kid, right?
CM: I was shy, I still am. Actually, the success of Whose Line helped get me out of my shell because I had too in order to do promotion and appearances. But as a kid, I was very quiet, very studious, a bit of a bookworm. Then I tried out for the school play, got my first laugh, and that was it, it was a turning point in my life.
MW: We certainly can't relate to what that's like to have an audience that constantly finds you hilarious, and what kind of a thrill that must be to have people laugh at your jokes, and love what you do.
CM: It is the most incredible, legal stimulant you could ever feel to have a whole audience laugh at something that you've done or said. Part of it is because it is so hard to get a laugh from a large group of people. Everyone's sense of tragedy is basically the same, the loss of a loved one, a relationship breaking up. It's hard finding a group with a common sense of humor. Everyone's humor is so personal, so when you actually find some way to make an entire room laugh, it's such a great feeling of power. Of course, I can't really do anything with it, I can't take over the world, but it certainly makes me feel good.
MW: How much do you stay in contact with the other guys from the TV show?
CM: As much as possible, I just saw Drew (Carey) at the Just For Laughs Festival this summer, I just saw Greg Proops who was in Toronto on tour. Ryan (Stiles), the person I'm closest too, oddly is the person that is hardest to stay in contact with. He's always sort of moving around, and changing his number, and I'm trying not to take it personally.
MW: Colin, thanks so much for your time, and have a great show.
CM: Thanks, Mike.
You can find out more about Colin at his website.
There are also hundreds of Whose Line Is It Anyway clips at Youtube.