September 21, 2008

Audience Input Keeps Sherwood, Mochrie Moving

By Carla DeStefano

Believe it or not, being completely unprepared actually works best for comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood.

There are no rehearsals. There is no script. They walk on stage armed only with their quick wit, sense of humor, and a talent for improvisational comedy.

"It's amazing that it works. For me, it's just going in front of an audience, and we have absolutely nothing for them except hope that something magical happens from that," Mochrie says. "And it does. It's funny what we are getting away with."

"An Evening with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood" will take stage tonight at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg.

The two have been traveling the country since 2002, bringing to stage a live version of the popular television show, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" On the show, four performers created characters, scenes and songs based on suggestions from the audience and predetermined prompts from the host, Drew Carey. After the show ended its television run, Mochrie, from Toronto, and Sherwood, a California resident, took the popular premise on the road, now booking more than 100 shows a year.

"It's a free-for-all," Mochrie says, adding that audience members are often brought up on stage to participate. "Every night, it is totally different. We always experiment with new kinds of games and take different suggestions from the audience. The hardest part is when you start asking for occupations. Gynecologist is one we will never take."

Sherwood says because each show is different, things stay fresh and exciting, which is the biggest appeal.

"It sort of adds magic to comedy. In stand-up, you are seeing a routine. With this, you have no idea what is going to happen. You are seeing comedy as it's actually being created as opposed to the finished product of stand-up," he says. "The audience doesn't know if we are going to make it. They don't know if we are going to catch it or if we will make them laugh. It's pulled out of thin air and provides the 'wow factor.' "

Many of the games will be familiar to audience members, but Mochrie and Sherwood say they are constantly coming up with new ideas to keep them on their toes.

"As it is, people still don't believe that we are making it up. I always ask at the top of the show, and a good 40 percent and up don't believe we make it up," Mochrie says. "We have no tricks. It's totally made it up from their suggestions."

When they are not traveling, the two enjoy spending time with their families. To make the time on the road a bit more interesting, they have started a video blog on their Web site.

"I actually just bought a small camera. We don't always have a cameraman on the road with us, so now I have the camera so we can do it all the time," Sherwood says. "We made a commitment for this fall season to video blog a lot more. It's a chance to give our fans something between shows, instead of just sitting there doing Sudoku."

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