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Improving improv for a Vail audience

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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What do a balding Canadian and an all-American boy from Chicago have in common?

They both love making people laugh. In fact, that’s almost all they’ve been doing for the past 15 years.

Colin Mochrie (the aforementioned Canadian) and Brad Sherwood (the American) are masters of the improvisation art form; a type of comedy in which the comedians don’t follow a script, they simply make up the material as they go.



Anyone who has ever seen the American version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (which was a British series first) should be at least slightly familiar with the work of these two actor/comedians. Mochrie was actually a staple on the British version of the show for 10 years before being imported to the ABC network. Fans of the British version will recall that the show was much more fast-paced, included more audience participation, and featured a larger selection of games.

For those not familiar with “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” the premise is simple and contagiously funny. There are four actors on stage who are given the title and rules of a game, which usually feature the use of props or a ridiculous scenario. The audience suggests topics that must be tackled during the games, and the actors do their best to make the topics and situations funny. Sometimes they fail, but most of the time their gags are hilarious. There are no hard rules in “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” which means that the actors can be as outrageous and goofy as network TV allows, and everybody wins.



Mochrie and Sherwood have hit the road since “Whose Line…?” went off the air in 2006, bringing their show, “An Evening with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood,” to audiences across the country. The comedic duo will be performing tonight at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek.

Because each show is unscripted, it is safe to say that the people who pack the seats at tonight’s show will only have a vague idea of what to expect when the comedians take the stage.

“It’s improv, beyond that, I really don’t know. There’s no program provided … because it’s improv, it’s kind of off the cuff, that’s kind of the point of it,” said Sarah Dixon, director of marketing and public relations for the Vilar Performing Arts Center.



One thing is clear, Mochrie and Sherwood’s show will rely heavily on audience participation. As seen on “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” suggestions will be taken by audience members for material and a few will even be chosen to come on stage and help the comedians out during the act. Anyone could be a victim and nobody is safe from the long arm of improv law.

Eagle resident Betty Neal is going to the show with her family (husband and two sons, 16 and 10) as one of their Christmas presents.

The Neal family are huge fans of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and they try to watch reruns of the show almost everyday.

“It just keeps you thinking. It just really keeps you on your toes with the way the improv is done,” Betty Neal said.

True, the comedic wit of Mochrie and Sherwood is lightning fast and razor sharp, but they never hesitate to become the butt of their own jokes, almost savoring the chance to make fun of themselves or each other at every turn. And in the fast-paced world of improv comedy, the audience gets to enjoy a million punch lines in a short time instead of a few spread out over hours of stand-up.

“They’re a good combo and I’m excited. I’m just psyched. I’m really excited to have that level of comedy here,” Neal said.

Neal is not the only one excited about the show apparently. “An Evening with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood” has sold out; quite the feat for a first time show at the Vilar Center.

It doesn’t hurt that both stars of the show have been beamed into living rooms across the country for the past decade, becoming famous faces in an unappreciated art form. But is seems that they are doing fine, even without Drew Carey’s smiling face to introduce them.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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