Colin Mochrie has brought laughter to many homes around the world by bringing his improvisational skills to the small screen, and the stage.
Mochrie, who has starred on hit shows such as Whose Line is it Anyway? and This Hour has 22 Minutes, recently discussed his time as a comedian, specifically focusing on the world of improv, and how it has effected his life, and vice versa.
Mochrie has been nominated for and won several awards during his career.
The comedian has been nominated for five Canadian Comedy Awards, winning two of them, and has also won a Gemini Award and a Writers Guild of Canada award for his work on This Hour has 22 Minutes.
At the 2013 Canadian Comedy Awards, Mochrie was awarded the Canadian Comedy Person of the Year.
Some of his film and TV credits include multiple appearances on Murdoch Mysteries, and a main role on Royal Canadian Air Farce.
He has also written a book titled “Not Quite the Classics,” in which he took classic stories and put his own spin on them.
“You really need [a great audience] during an improv show,” he explains. “They sort of set the tone of what we’re going to do, everything is based on their suggestions, so we need them to sometimes think outside the box and give us suggestions we may not have heard before just to inspire us.”
Mochrie has appeared on both the American and British versions of Whose Line is it Anyway?, and explains in the past the direction of the audiences were quite different.
“It used to be that the British audiences were a little more reserved, and their suggestions were all over the place from historical references to geographical ones,” he says. “In America it tends to be more pop culture-related suggestions.”
“It’s mostly just goofy, and goofy’s universal, so everybody seems to enjoy it,” he says with a chuckle.
Mochrie has been on the scene for some time, as he has been actively performing since he was in his early 20’s.
He explains during this time he has kept his personal and public lives separate.
“People who have no idea what I do and have met me for the first time, I don’t think they would immediately jump to, ‘Oh, this guy’s a performer,’” he explains. “I tend to be very quiet.”
Mochrie explains through the success of Whose Line is it Anyway? he’s had to become more outgoing because of press demands and the number of people he encounters.
“So, in that way, improv has brought me out of my shell,” he says.
His style of improv comedy has changed since he began, and some of the credit for that has to go to his daughter, Kinley Mochrie, originally born Luke Mochrie.
When Mochrie’s daughter came out as transgender, she gave him her permission to announce it on social media.
“I received an e-mail from someone who runs an LGBTQ improv theatre in England,” he says.
“It said, ‘I saw your post, it’s lovely that you’re supporting your daughter, can I ask you to be more aware when you’re doing…the transphobic and homophobic jokes that you do?’”
He says looking back he realized the person who sent the e-mail was right, especially in regards to his early material on Whose Line is it Anyway?
He says he asked if he could post the e-mail on Facebook, and every improv company he knew of weighed in.
“We all made a vow to actually watch out for that,” he says. “So often we get positive feedback…sometimes you forget it can have the opposite effect. It can marginalize an entire section of the population just through some dumb joke that you don’t even think about. You just do it and then you’re onto the next thing.”
It’s not only his daughter who has influenced Mochrie though, as he says his experiences on Whose Line is it Anyway? allowed him to become more fearless.
“With Whose Line, you know you have to be on right away. With stage you can take a little time to build your scene, to get into character,” he explains. “With Whose Line, everything had to be there from the very beginning, so it made you aware of what your partners were giving you because that was pretty much all you had to work with, that and a suggestion.”
He said he learned to “trim all of the fat” and just “get to the funny.”
For Mochrie, he gets a lot of inspiration from his everyday surroundings.
“I have some very interesting characters in my personal life,” he says. “Just from my wife and daughter, and our group of friends. So I always get a front row view on human behaviour and different kinds of characters.”
As an improv comedian, Mochrie says basically everything he encounters is something that can be pulled out during a scene.
“Everything that you sort of come into contact with, you sort of file it away and use it later in your career,” he says.
Today, Mochrie can be found touring with Brad Sherwood for their Scared Scriptless tour, and Hyprov, a combination of hypnosis and improv Mochrie is doing with hypnotist Asad Mecci.
To find out more about Mochrie and what he has on the go right now, visit his website at http://www.colinmochrie.com/