The audience that filled most of Warner Theatre Friday night had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they showed up to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. So much so that even Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood didn’t know what was going to happen.
But the “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” comedians certainly delivered, bringing a taste of the improv show to Torrington for a night. The duo concocted a pudding pot of comedy on the fly, made from scratch with humor-infused, unconventional ingredients like dead goats, a turtle-tickling criminal and a part-time zookeeper opera. And that pot definitely boiled over, spilling into the auditorium and leaving the audience volcanically erupting with non-stop laughter.
When you go to a comedy show you probably expect stand-up, but not so with a Mochrie/Sherwood act. Flipping the format, Mochrie and Sherwood didn’t stand on stage ranting a memorized and or prepared monologue that was supposed to make you laugh. It instead featured several improv games from “Whose Line” with comedy made up on the spot with the help of audience participation and suggestions.
It was raw, not polished. It was spontaneous, not pre-conceived. And it was by no means perfect or pretty. But that’s what made it genuinely hilarious. Mochrie and Sherwood truly live in the moment with their comedy.
In order for a routine like this to work, the audience has to be lively, have a sense of humor and be willing to engage instead of just watch. And the audience Friday was all of those things. That’s what made the show so fun. Mochrie and Sherwood broke the imaginary barrier between audience and performer, celebrity and fan, by asking for suggestions, coming into the crowd and inviting audience members on stage to participate in the games and interact with the crowd. We were a part of their act, not just watching it.
To open the show, the comedians selected two random audience members to go up on stage to be the puppet masters to the first game. They were tasked with moving Mochrie and Sherwood, with one assigned to each, as the comedians played a scene and made up dialogue. After calling for an audience suggestion, the men did the entire bit in Irish brogues. Playing wilderness nurses that had to climb a mountain and rescue a man — later deemed a three-foot leprechaun — with a broken leg and carry him down a mountain. They were moving at a snail’s pace as the volunteers had to move one limb at a time, but quickly got laughter. Particularly when they teasingly mocked the volunteers when the movements didn’t keep up with the pace of the sketch.
The next game, Q&A, drew both strange and simple questions from the audience – like what can you do without getting arrested to get rid of a girl you’re not interested in? What was it like working with Drew Carey? If you sat down to lunch with your 20-year-old self, what would you say? What kind of board game would you make? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
They answered all of the audience queries either alternating one word at a time or speaking at once and trying to say the same thing.
“Working with Drew Carey was wonderful. He is a really nice guy with lots of money. Sweet,” they both answered to the question about their experience working with the former “Whose Line” host.
In response to the question about having lunch with their 20-year-old selves, they said, “Someday, you will be regretting that mullet.”
And perhaps be on the look out for a Mochrie/Sherwood board game that combines Monopoly and Operation. Wink.
“Song Cue” was a self-proclaimed tough game for the duo. Given the audience suggestion of a broken vacuum, the two set out in the sketch to clean up after a wild party before Mochrie’s wife got home. If a dead goat under the over-turned couch and the confession that the wife was having an affair with a mime weren’t enough turmoil, each comedian threw a monkey wrench into each other’s improv dialogue when they said “what do you mean?” That line was the trigger for a song, ranging from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to the “Can-Can,” to play, meaning the comedian on the spot had to sing his explanation until the other cut them off. That led to a very long rap by Sherwood to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” As well as a very witty pun by him later warning Mochrie his imaginary wife was “two miming” him.
Then, Mochrie put on headphones and listened to music while Sherwood took audience suggestions to come up with a crime that he supposedly committed, the place where it happened and the evidence that was left behind. Mochrie then had to guess the exact words describing what he did, led warmer by more Sherwood puns hinting at the deed and audience applause. Somehow, Mochrie got it – that he ticked a turtle in a car wash and took a dump in the display toilet at Home Depot in Coginchaug and left behind a pudding cup as evidence. Surprisingly, it took him the longest to guess pudding cup – not Coginchaug – after Sherwood painstakingly dropped hints describing pudding like “Do I have to spoon-feed it to you?”, “You’ll get your just desserts” and that it was a delicious treat more liquid than Jello, custard or flan. Mochrie guessed pudding pot before he arrived at the right answer.
“The Sound Effects Game” was fun because of audience participation in providing the sound effects for the comedians in a skit but it also dragged because of the audience. Sherwood tried to include the back of the audience by having them pass the microphone around to each do one of his sound effects in contrast to Mochrie’s young female volunteer. It was an appealing concept, but the mic either wasn’t always passed or some audience members became too embarrassed because sometimes the areas where there should have been sound effects for Sherwood were silent. However, there were funny moments when the comedians commented on the lack of noise or poked fun at the sound effects that didn’t sound at all like what they were doing. As Sherwood and Mochrie saved the world in their sketch – stopping a Hawaiian volcano from erupting by shooting golf balls coated with Alka-Seltzer into it – so did the last audience member to do Sherwood’s sound effects, which included burping, yodeling and mimicking porcupines having sex.
But the intensity and the danger were heightened when the comedians and their crew set up 100 live mousetraps on the stage. Covering their eyes with vision-blocking goggles, Mochrie and Sherwood roamed about the stage barefoot singing an opera about a part-time zookeeper, per audience suggestions. We cringed as we anticipated them stepping on the mousetraps, yet laughed in delight when they stepped on them. Oh, you better believe they stepped on a lot of them, a couple even getting caught on Mochrie’s toes. He had to suck it up and remove them while still blindfolded. It looked painful for both of them, but they took it willingly for laughs. They even launched mousetraps at each other, Mochrie hitting Sherwood in his private parts a number of times and both occasionally cheating by taking off the goggles. Kids and adults, don’t try that at home.
Throughout the night they made references to jokes originated in earlier games in the performance, proving their wit and linguistic skills to weave chaos into something fluid.
They closed the evening with a parody of “My Way,” reviewing the evening of improv comedy in Torrington that they want to live on as a legend like Paul Bunyan and his dumb ox.
And legendary it was. Just ask the tickled turtle, not the mime.