It’s not easy for Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood to explain their vocation. It’s so difficult that if the members of the “Whose Line Is It Anyway” troupe appeared on the classic game show “What’s My Line?,” the panel would be completely stumped.
“I don’t think they would figure it out,” Mochrie said during a phone call from his Toronto home. “You need to see it to fully understand it. To put this in perspective, one time before we came on (Brad) whispered to me, ‘When you go out, open your legs up so it’ll look like I’m coming out of your butt.’ Where else can someone say, ‘Sure,’ and be fine with that and it would be completely normal? I would say what we do is unusual, but I don’t think it is compared to what our mayor (the notorious Rob Ford) does.”
Mochrie and Sherwood, often dubbed the Abbott and Costello of Improv, have been touring as an extemporaneous tandem for three years. Before hitting the road together, Mochrie, 56, and Sherwood, 49, met on the ABC series, “Whose Line Is It Anyway” from 1998 to 2004, along with fellow comedians Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops.
“It was an amazing time,” Mochrie said. “We all had a tremendous amount of fun together. We all have great chemistry.”
But “Whose Line” never went away. Reruns continued to air on ABC Family. “The weird thing is that our audience kept getting younger,” Mochrie said. “ABC Family helped, and so did YouTube. Thank God for YouTube. That helped us draw a younger audience, and it also helped us get back on television.”
“Whose Line Is It Anyway” has been renewed for a second season on The CW. Mochrie, Sherwood, Brady, Stiles and Proops are back. The only missing character is host Drew Carey, who is busy with his “The Price Is Right” duties. Aisha Taylor is the new “Whose Line” host.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Mochrie said. “We did the original eight, and now they want 24 more episodes. We shot some in January, and it’s just like old times.”
Every time Mochrie and Sherwood step on the stage together the situation is fresh, since they make things up out of the ether. “There’s no script, so obviously anything can happen,” Mochrie said. “We ask the audience questions, like ‘what scares you’ and we take it from there. The audience starts us off and so because of that, they don’t root against us. They’re part of the show.”
Extemporaneous performers routinely score bigger laughs than those who work with prepared material since it’s all happening in front of an audience.
“We’re the opposite of stand-up,” Mochrie said. “It’s fun working without a script. Audiences appreciate our effort.”
Every night Mochrie and Sherwood, who will perform Sunday at the Mahaffey, walk the equivalent of a high wire without a net. “Even though Brad and I have a very high success rate, something can go really awry,” Mochrie said. “What’s wonderful about improv is that you move on immediately after something flops, and you forget about it. You just try something else. Something will work. It usually does. That’s why we can still do this.”