I think the challenge is going out in front of a paying audience with absolutely nothing and trying to entertain them for two hours. Thankfully, I only think about that right before we go on, and then once we’re out there, everything’s fine.
The rules and circumstances of improv comedy serve as a great allegory or parallel to the real world. Some people may seem more naturally talented, though they still need years of practice to further hone their craft. Other people get good through sheer will and determination. And then an audience member throws out a nonsense suggestion and just have to roll with it. You have to adapt. You have to own it and make the best of what you’re given.
Most of us know comedian Colin Mochrie best as a Whose Line Is It Anyway? original cast member. Well, perhaps “original” isn’t completely accurate. He didn’t appear in the UK version of the show until the third series, but he was a featured performer throughout the run of the American show, appearing in some 299 episodes (and counting). That’s every episode of the US version.
While being to think quickly (and funnily) on your feet is a prerequisite for any improv performer, they’re all going to have good days and bad days. The best days, much like with so many other creative professions, is when you’re able to get into a rhythm. The jokes keep flowing and the audience keeps laughing. That’s where talent and experience intersect.
There’s many times this year I’ve sat back and thought, I’m making a living from making things up. It’s the only skill I have so I’ve been really lucky.
Born in Scotland as the oldest of three children, Colin Mochrie moved to Quebec when he was seven before continuing on to Vancouver five years later. Curiously, he was shy as a child, a loner who “watched way too much television.” That’s in utter contrast to his outgoing and boisterous personality today.
Following four years of theatre school, Mochrie joined the Vancouver TheatreSports League in 1980 where he met fellow Whose Line star Ryan Stiles. It was after Expo ’86 that Colin Mochrie moved to Toronto and joined the Second City for a few years. Curiously, he didn’t make the cut the first time he auditioned for Whose Line and he took that as a learning experience. He auditioned again the following year, flew to London to appear on one episode, and was cut. It wasn’t until his third audition that he was offered a permanent spot on the UK show.
Success takes many paths and many attributes. We may know Colin Mochrie best as a comedian and improviser, but it’s obvious enough that these are not his only skills. He’s dedicated to his craft, perseveres through hardship, and comes out with a big goofy smile out the other end. His positivity is infectious. For more laughs, check out his 2013 book Not Quite the Classics. Or just look for Whose Line highlights online.
Famous Playboy Hugh Hefner managed to successfully stop an order of monks from operating a business on his property. The police forced the friars to close down their stall, which was outside the Playboy mansion where they had been selling flowers. Said one friar, well, if it was anyone else we may have gotten away from it, but, unfortunately, only Hugh can prevent florist friars.