GLEN ELLYN – Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood gained plenty of experience performing in front of an audience without a script as part of the improvisational comedy television show "Whose Line is it Anyway?"
Mochrie and Sherwood will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 14 at the College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, as part of their "Scared Scriptless" nationwide tour. Tickets are available at the McAninch Arts Center's website, atthemac.org.
Suburban Life reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Mochrie about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Schelkopf: Of course, the show is called "Scared Scriptless." Are you scared of going on stage without a script? But is that what makes it fun for you?
Mochrie: Yeah, that's what makes it fun, going out on stage with nothing and sort of building a show with the audience. It's exciting for us.
Schelkopf: Because you will take all audience suggestions during your show?
Mochrie: Yes. It's a truly interactive show.
Schelkopf: It seems like there are more improv shows out there now. Do you think that is because of the success of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" Do you think that show has kind of paved the way for other people to want to do this?
Mochrie: Yeah, I think it certainly helped. It sort of put improv into the public consciousness, where before, they didn't really know what it was. ... People used to get improv and stand-up mixed up. The success of "Whose Line" sort of got the world of improv out there, and I've met many people throughout the years who have said the show got them interested in improv. It's one of the great legacies of "Whose Line."
Schelkopf: I had read that growing up, you had never heard of the word improv and that Jonathan Winters was pretty much the only person you knew that did improv. Did you take anything away from Winters after watching him do improv?
Mochrie: I would watch him and see his imagination at work. He would take whatever was given to him and make something out of it, which is basically all that improv is. ... He was definitely an inspiration.
Schelkopf: I understand that you were actually a shy kid and then you tried out for a school play and got the part, and that kind up opened up a whole new world for you, right?
Mochrie: Yeah, that first laugh was almost a hit of a drug in a way. Yeah, it's very addictive once you get that first laugh. ... And then doing improv is addictive. People who do it really love doing it. ... You are never alone. You are working with people. So if you die, you're going down with friends.
Schelkopf: And of course, you've worked with Brad Sherwood for a while. What is the connection between the two of you, and did you guys have instant chemistry?
Mochrie: We've known each other for almost 30 years now. And we both have the same sort of improv background. We both have the same kind of reference level. ... It certainly makes it easier when you're improvising with somebody if you know them very well. The 16 years we've been on tour, it's just been a great experience. ... We've never had a disagreement. We both sort of have the same feeling of what we want the show to be and how we can achieve that. So it's been a very easy partnership.
Schelkopf: And then I know that, in your early days, you worked at The Second City in Chicago for three years. What did you get out of the experience? What did that teach you?
Mochrie: The great thing about Second City was that you got a chance to do improv every night because there would be an improv set after the main show. So you learn where your strengths and weaknesses are and how to work with different people and how to react and deal with the audience. ... It was kind of a comedy college.
If you go
WHAT: "Scared Scriptless"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sept. 14
WHERE: College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn
COST: $55 to $65