If you get the opportunity to see the hilarious improv show An Evening with Colin and Brad, starring Whose Line Is It Anyway? veterans Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, you can thank their wives. More than 15 years ago, when Mochrie and Sherwood were performing in Las Vegas, the women decided they should form their own show and take it to venues throughout the country.
“My wife pitched to Colin’s wife when we were doing one of the Vegas shows,” recalls Sherwood. “She said, ‘Do you think Colin would be interested in going out and doing a tour with just the two of them?’ And she said, ‘Absolutely.’ After the show, we went and talked about the idea.” The guys created their own two-man show and began taking it to large theaters. That was about 15 years ago, and the two have been doing it ever since.
Each year, Mochrie and Sherwood perform throughout the country, doing somewhere between 75 and 100 shows a year, says Mochrie. “It’s still a lot of fun for us,” he says. “We still have a great time doing it.”
Like it, But Not
What’s the show like? “We like to say it’s like a live version of Whose Line without the tall guy and the black guy,” says Mochrie. “A lot of games will be familiar to fans of Whose Line. Because there are just two of us, there’s some games we’ve made up or combined with other games. I’ve even more interactive than the TV show. Every scene starts with something from the audience. We have audience members on stage with us for about 80 percent of the games. So it’s a highly interactive evening.”
They’ve been doing the show for so long, Mochrie says, that they can oftentimes tell which audience members would love to be on stage with them and which ones won’t. “We usually bring up couples—that way, they have someone that they’re with, whom they trust. We’re very nice to our audience because they’re helping us with the scene, so we sort of need them to be on our side. We don’t want them to freeze or be terrified. We try to make it as comfortable for them as possible.”
Look at Me!!!
Both Mochrie and Sherwood have extensive experience in improv. Mochrie got his start in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he grew up. After moving to Toronto in 1986, he was with Second City. At the time, the British version of Whose Line was auditioning for the show, but Mochrie says that none of the people with whom he was doing improv were chosen because “we were doing that thing in improv where you make the other person look good. So, nobody really stood out.”
The next year, he and his wife moved to Los Angeles, and the show was auditioning people again. “I auditioned with people I didn’t know. It was like—Screw you! Look at me!” says Mochrie. “That’s an important lesson for the kids.”
Chicago-born Sherwood started acting at age eight, and began doing sketches and improv with a group in college. While working in TV production, a co-worker told Sherwood that he should check out an improv class. “I was awesome at it,” says Sherwood. “It was like I was looking for an instrument to play, and someone finally handed me the bassoon, you know? I’m like an Eddie Van Halen on the bassoon, and I haven’t stopped since. I’d just always done shows and clubs and theatres for all the years before Whose Line came along.”
Despite the fact that both men have performed improv for decades, there are still those who come to their shows and swear that it’s scripted. “There’s people in our audiences—which I always find odd—who don’t believe that we’re improvising. They believe that we have a script for every possible suggestion that we can get or that half the audience are plants,” says Mochrie. “Improv really is an art form where it’s just for that night—moment to moment. They don’t transfer to sketches.”
“I refer to that line of thinking as the greatest compliment and the greatest insult all in one,” says Sherwood. “Because in one breath, they’re thinking no one could be that talented. They can’t even comprehend that we can think on our feet enough to be that consistently funny all the time. But at the same time, it’s an insult because they’re calling us liars.”
“They think, ‘Well, I can’t do it. How can anyone else?’” adds Mochrie. “I always say, ‘I can’t do brain surgery, but I know it exists.’”
Luckily, they love performing improv.
“I like the energy and the adrenaline that you get from being on stage, and I think once you become good at making people laugh, getting those laughs becomes a bit addictive. I think any stand-up or person who performs live comedy will attest to that there’s nothing like making a giant audience laugh,” says Sherwood.
“It’s always different. You never fall into a rut. Every audience is different, every theater is different, and depending on our moods, every show is different,” says Mochrie. “It’s not like we’re a band going out doing our greatest hits night after night. We’re making up something completely new—every night—with the help of the audience. So it always fresh and fun.”
For more info on where you can see Mochrie and Sherwood perform, check out their website www.colinandbradshow.com. And you can always see them on Whose Line Is It Anyway? on the CW. Check local listings for times.
About Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski
Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski is the award-winning author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box, writer of the award-winning humor column, Wojo’s World®, and future award-winning stand-up comic and speaker. Wojo has been a huge fan of Whose Line, since she discovered it while in college. She even performed with her own improv troupe Wojo’s Weirdos. Like Mochrie and Sherwood, Wojo loves making stuff up to make people laugh. To read more about Wojo, check out her website at www.wojosworld.com.
Feature photo courtesy Mills Entertainment.