Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie, famed improv comedians from the Emmy-nominated show “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” will perform at 8 p.m. today at The Classic Center Theatre in Athens.
During the show, Sherwood and Mochrie will take suggestions and contributions from the crowd to create original and improvised scenes, going so far as to invite audience members on stage to participate directly.
Both comedians were featured prominently on “Whose Line,” which ran for eight seasons on ABC and was recently revived on The CW. The two have been touring together for more than 10 years in venues across the United States and internationally.
The Times spoke with Sherwood about his career, show and comedy.
Question: You have performed as an actor, comedian and game show host. What is it that attracts you to improv?
Answer: I love making people laugh. Once you go into comedy, that becomes your favorite thing. There is nothing like the high of being on stage and making people laugh. It never gets boring because you never know what is going to happen. You don’t know what you are going to be doing because you are using suggestions from the audience and you are bringing people up on stage. So it is completely unexpected. You just have this live-theater adrenaline rush combined with making people laugh and there is nothing better than that.
Q: Is there such a thing as a mistake in improv? Are you ever at a loss for what to do next?
A: No, not really. You are in a constant state of “What’s going to happen next?” So, you can’t relax and expect everything to go right, because that is impossible. Your job is to take everything that is happening, especially when it is going wrong, and turn it into something funny. Generally some of our funniest moments are the mistakes that happen on stage and how you make them even more bizarre and goofy and hilarious.
Q: You recently did a show for sixth-graders in Wisconsin. How was that?
A: We don’t do that very often. That was actually the first time we have ever performed for a group of sixth-graders. I would say in the 10 years we have been doing our show, I have probably never been so nervous beforehand. You don’t know what you’re going to get. They don’t have a wide reference level and their attention span may not be what you expect. But, we had a great time. We did a 45-minute show and it was hilarious and goofy. It had probably the biggest energy we’ve ever had for show. So, it went great.
Q: What can people attending your show in Athens expect?
A: It’s completely made up. It’s all improvised live. We bring lots of people on stage and we used lots of suggestions from the audience. But, no one that comes up on stage, comes up against their will. Anybody (who) is terrified of the thought of having to go up on stage doesn’t need to worry because that is not going to happen.
If like watching the show “Whose Line,” then you’ll, even more so, like watching improv live, because it’s kind of controlled mayhem.
Q: How has being on “Whose Line” affected your career and your life?
A: One of the great things is Colin and I have been doing this two-man show for 10 years. If it hadn’t been such a popular show, we wouldn’t have been able to do a 10-year tour. That is definitely the greatest window of opportunity to have opened.
Also, it’s kind of fun being the old guard of a generation’s worth of kids growing up watching and knowing what improv is about. Before “Whose Line” came on the air, no one really knew what improv was; it was kind of like a theater workshop game. There weren’t very many improv groups and now every high school drama department and college has improv class as part of their curriculum and a lot of colleges have their own improv groups. It’s kind of fun for us to be some of the people (who) helped bring a greater awareness of improv to the rest of the country.
Q: Is it difficult to tour and work with the same person for 10 years?
A: It’s not difficult. We get along famously. We constantly say in interviews that we have never had an argument and that is absolutely true. That is because it’s fun. Every time we do a show, it is a different show. It’s not like we’re off doing a play, reading the same lines and sort of following asleep in our brain. We are constantly in a state of “Oh my god, what are we going to do right now?” every moment we’re on stage. That kind of adrenaline doesn’t get old.