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February 21, 2006

A better mousetrap: ‘Whose Line’ stars bring improv to the Palace

Colin Mochrie first appeared in the British version of the hit improvisation show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” in 1991. It was the beginning of a wonderful relationship between himself, his fellow actors and audiences worldwide, in part because of the show’s syndication on Comedy Central.Working regularly on stage with Ryan Stiles, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops, Michael McShane and more was an experience he wouldn’t trade.“We all became really good friends,” Mochrie said during a recent telephone interview. “There’s no one I’d rather be on stage with than that group.”He and Stiles grew up together in Vancouver, and he had been friends with “Whose Line” regular Brad Sherwood before joining the show as well. Those friendships carried on into the popular American version of the show on ABC, which was hosted by Drew Carey and featured many of the same performers.“It really helps to know the people you work with,” Mochrie said, “because of the sense of security involved. Everybody has everybody’s back — it’s almost like soldiers who fight together, but without the distraction of bullets.”Mochrie and Sherwood will bring that bullet-free dynamic to the Louisville Palace stage on Saturday. The pair have been bringing their own improv show to live audiences for about three years now, and Mochrie promises Louisville audiences can expect a “Whose Line” type of experience. For the uninitiated, what that means is that the audience is heavily involved in the show.“Eighty percent of the time we have members of the audience on stage,”Mochrie said. “We play a lot of the games from ‘Whose Line’ and also some we always tried to get onto ‘Whose Line’ but couldn’t because of time constraints.”For instance, Louisville audiences can expect to see the Sound Effects Game, wherein members of the audience provide all the sound effects for the performers to act out; the Moving Bodies Game, wherein members of the audience must move the performers like giant puppets, and Brad also does an improvised rap song based on cues from the audience.But one gag audiences will see at a Mochrie-Sherwood show that “Whose Line”fans never saw is something called “The World’s Most Dangerous Improv Game.”“There are 100 mousetraps set on stage,” Mochrie said, “and Brad and I walk around barefoot and blindfolded. Audiences absolutely love that — audiences love nothing more than to see people in pain.”However, don’t expect to see the old “Whose Line” mainstay the Props Game — but only because it is impractical for a touring show.Mochrie explained: “It’s hard to travel around with big Styrofoam props and make people believe it’s made up on the spot.” 

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