One of the biggest Big Daddies of Canada’s long line of famous comedians is coming home, Just For Laughs. After shooting the first few pilot episodes of much-missed Whose Line is it Anyway? (returning this week), Colin Mochrie will be performing with old buddy Brad Sherwood at JFL. For fans new and old of the improv sketch comedy TV show, this live performance is not to be missed.
“There’s a lot of stuff from Whose Line, but there’s also a lot of new things Brad and I had to come up with, since it’s just the two of us,” Colin explains, over the phone from Monterey. “People who are fans of the show will see it’s a lot like it, but it’s a lot more interactive! We’re pulling audience members on stage with us for about 80% of the games. You won’t walk away smarter but hopefully you’ll have had a few good laughs.”
The return of Whose Line is another in a trend of television series brought back to life even after decades of being off the air. You won’t hear us complaining that the tried and truly great TV of yesteryear is back, and it would be nice to see the God-awful summer-time network staples such as Big Brother get shelved for good.
“I never really watch sitcoms these days because I find there’s a rhythm to them, like you can come up with the punch lines before the characters do. With our show, we never knew the punch lines or the set ups, it was just guys riffing and having fun and it all came as a surprise, to the audience and to us. They got to know us through the show.”
Summer means fewer people watching television (news to us), and thus, fewer dollars to put into producing anything to put on the air besides reruns.
Remounting this show was damn good planning on the part of the CW network for a number of reasons; in its unadulterated rejuvenation, Whose Line brings its own cult following to the ratings. And as Colin tells us, “It’s the cheapest show imaginable to put together! You have four chairs, we bring our own wardrobe. What else do you need?”
Not writers, for another thing. We saw a stark turn for the worse in television especially about the 2007 strike of the Writer’s Guild of America; networks funded reality TV shows where entertainment was based on rich Hollywood girls out-bitching each other every week, and lots and lots of new competitive game shows. But that’s not really entertainment, or quality. Colin is more optimistic, citing Curb Your Enthusiasm as paving the happy-middle-ground between scripted comedy and improvised dialogue.
“Shows like the Office that have that documentary feel, putting improv in on top of that makes it seem more real, and I think people are ready for that. There’s more character behind it than just people saying funny lines, it’s definitely a valid way of making a TV show.”
Listening to Colin, it’s hard to tell whether his hesitancy is attributed to his alleged shy demeanor, or is simply the paced purposeful speech of a man of his years. “Though I’m certainly not at a point where I can go through life being totally open, I’d like to think that because of improv I’m more willing to hear everyone else’s point of view and I’m more accepting of their ideas.” Mochrie is every bit the master of the art of improv as you would expect from the man whose stardom shows no sign of waning too soon, and he himself can see the difference developing his gift has made in other aspects of his life and career. “Through the success of Whose Line I had to learn to deal with people, interviewers. And I think it’s also helped me in life by making me less rigid about things, and being able to let me accept things as they happen, rather than trying to force my way into a situation.”
For those of you a little too literate for silly awesome TV shows, autumn brings us the release of Colin Mochrie’s first published book.
“My agent said ‘you should write a book’ and I said ‘No, writing seems like work and I don’t really like to work’. So he took that information and got me a book deal. So I decided to do it in an improvised way;
“There’s a game called First Line/Last Line, where you get the first and last lines from the audience and then you just make up the scene and fill in the middle. So there’s twelve short stories and every story starts with the opening line from a classic novel, and then closes with the ending line from the same novel, and everything in the middle is made up.
“One is a Sherlock Holmes story where Sherlock decides to become a stand-up comedian, it’s one of the only stories that has anything to do with the original novel because his name was in the first line, so I had to use him. All the other ones are whatever came to mind at that moment.”
Don’t miss Colin & Brad performing at 7 pm on July 26th, 27th and 28th at the Gesu.