by James Draper
Colin Mochrie is an alumnus of Toronto’s famous Second City comedy troupe and is widely considered to be one of the leading improvisers in the world. After nine years as a regular on the British improvisation series “Whose Line is it Anyway?” he became a regular on the American version hosted by Drew Carey, which ran for six years on ABC and three years on ABC Family. In 2011, the entire cast was reunited in Vegas for Drew Carey’s” Improv-aganza”, a new series which aired for one season on GSN. Most recently, Colin was joined by Wayne Brady and Ryan Stiles (and new host Aisha Tyler) to tape twelve episodes of a new version of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” produced by Whose Line creator Dan Patterson. This new series will launch Tuesday, July 16 at 8pm on the CW Network. Colin appears regularly in film and television and was notably a cast member of CBC’s classic news spoof This Hour Has 22 Minutes for two seasons. With his wife, Debra McGrath, he produced, wrote and starred in the CBC show “Getting Along Famously”. A native of Scotland but life-long resident of Canada, Colin has remarkably toured worldwide for the past nine years, with Whose Line castmate Brad Sherwood, performing a live improv show. “An Evening with Colin and Brad”, has the distinction of being one of the longest running comedy tours in history, and we are happy to have him as our guest today in 5 Questions.
JD: When you graduated high school, then went on to Studio 58, was there a specific goal in mind? Like, “As soon as I graduate, I’m gonna be in the movies, or on TV”?
CM: If you take a hard look at my career, you will quickly notice that there doesn’t seem to be a game plan. All I ever wanted to do was work, whether as the 4th banana on a series or as part of an improv troupe banging it out on a small stage somewhere. I love that after 30 years, my career is still making it up as it goes.
JD: You’ve attended Studio 58, worked for TheaterSports League and The Second City, each instilling you with plenty of knowledge and practice for your future as a performer. With all of that, did you ever have doubts about your future in comedy? If so, was there a specific thing that caused that doubt? A series of events?
CM: I think any career in the arts comes with periods of self-doubt. Comedy is especially hard. I can think I am the funniest person in the world, but if I don’t connect with an audience, that confidence can quickly disappear. Every person’s sense of humour is so specific and personal to them, that the fact we can get a theatre full of people to laugh at the same thing still boggles my mind. I work so much better with doubt, confidence would severely hinder me.
JD: Do you ever “prep” yourself before a show? Do you do something to clear the mind so that you aren’t thinking too much on stage? Is there a ritual or “trick” you learned while at either of the fore-mentioned institutions?
CM: I don’t really have a ritual besides just hanging with whomever it is I am working with. At this point it has become second nature to walk on stage with a clear mind. I have the most fun when it’s just me and my cast mates flying by the seat of our pants.
JD: I read that you had a “fear” of singing scene games due to your inability to sing. As you know, sometimes the “failures” or mistakes in an improv scene can bring a huge laugh. How was singing different from an odd or unknown attribute given to you by another improviser?
CM: I don’t have a “fear” of singing games. I have performed many of them in our live shows. My thing with music is that I wish I had the natural ability to do it well. Unlike Brad Sherwood, Wayne Brady or Chip Easton, I don’t have the skills to do justice to whatever style of music is being played, which limits the fun the audience can have. To make fun of a particular genre of music, you really need to be good at performing it. Alas….
JD: Did earning awards as a comedic performer and writer give you a drive to do more? In other words, did you audition more, or submit sketches/scripts to be produced? Did it simply give you a sense of accomplishment, allowing you to calmly press forward at your own pace?
CM: I’ve always moved at my own pace. This occupation is a marathon not a sprint. It amuses me that I have won awards for writing, which I despise. As a full-blown lazy person, writing is too much like work and though some of the things I have written have made me proud, it has never made me proud enough to motivate myself to do it by my own volition.
JD: You have a long list of credits that include you writing, starring, and/or producing. Are there any projects you’ve turned down, for whatever reason, that you now regret? Are there any projects you’ve put together that never came to fruition, but you still hold on to? (scripts, show ideas, plays, etc…)
CM: There was only one time that I had regrets about it not working out. My friends created a show “The Drowsy Chaperone” which went on to Broadway and won Tony Awards. I was asked to replace the lead, but unfortunately it was right in the middle of my tour with Brad and we couldn’t work it out. The only idea that I’m hanging onto is an action movie with me as the lead. I’ve always wanted to see a normal guy at the center of all the chaos, instead of a muscled superhero type. Some day……
RM: What’s next for Colin Mochrie in the twelve months to follow? Anything big going on that we should know about?
CM: I have a book coming out in October “Not Quite the Classics”. It is a collection of short stories where I took famous first and last lines from classics and reimagine everything in-between. If the Whose Line reboot goes well, it may come back as a regular series. After that, who knows?
Official Website: http://www.colinmochrie.com/
Colin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/colinmochrie
Colin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colin-Mochrie/121623625738
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