For well over a decade Colin Mochrie’s shiny bald head has been invading the lounge rooms of millions around the globe through his work on the both the UK and US versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Once a self-professed loner with ambitions to be a marine biologist, the Scottish-born Canadian’s razor-sharp wit has seen him adopt the status of one of the world’s most adored improvisational comedians. “I’m making a living doing a job that wasn’t around when I was born. That’s amazing to me. Y’know – that no one has caught on yet,” says Mochrie.
Following the cancellation of Whose Line Is It Anyway? in 2003 by the ABC, The CW Television Network announced it would revive the show this year for its summer season. “It’s going really well. We actually just got picked up for another 24 episodes,” says Mochrie. “We were all a little nervous about trying to recapture something that had gone so well ten years ago. As soon as we walked back onto the set, and just seeing Ryan [Stiles] and Wayne [Brady] again, it just fell back into what we had before. It’s been a lot of fun and the audiences have been great.”
For the past few years, Mochrie and fellow Whose Line star Brad Sherwood have taken to the international stage with their own brand of interactive comedy show. “I think we’re a lot more relaxed than when we first started because we didn’t really know what the beast was,” says Mochrie. “It was the two of us, like a version of Whose Line without the tall guy or the black guy. There’ll be games that will be familiar to Whose Line fans and everything in the show starts with a suggestion from the audience. We have audience members onstage with us for about 80 per cent of the games. We think that the show works best when we’re totally out of our comfort zone.
“We’re always thinking of new ways to get suggestions so that we get suggested things that we never have before. We’re always coming up with new kinds of games that we’re not quite sure about so that we can experiment in front of an audience. We do something called ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Improv Game’, where we’re barefoot and blindfolded and there are 100s of live mouse traps on stage. It’s as stupid as it sounds.”
What about Mochrie’s career highlights thus far? “The beauty of improv is that nothing sticks with you,” he says. “For two hours you’re basically just going from one scene to another. You’re thinking about the suggestions, you’re thinking about the audience and you’re thinking about the person you’re working with. Once the scene is done it’s just gone – you’re onto the next one. Unless someone dies onstage or pulls a gun on us I will never remember a scene. That hasn’t happened yet.”
Just for Laughs marks the comedian’s first ever visit Down Under and Mochrie’s not without reservations. “I just think of it as a large place with convicts,” he jokes. “I’m sure that was probably a long time ago, but we’ve been a little slow in getting history books to Canada.”