Comedy power couple Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath will take the stage at Vic Juba Community Theatre on Dec. 12 for An Evening of Improv. With the freewheeling nature their brand of comedy is known for, even Mochrie has little idea of what to expect.
“It’ll be an evening of improv, that’s basically all I know. Deb and I will be doing a show that’s based a little bit on our lives with sort of improv segments and playing games that would be familiar to Whose Line fans,” he said. “And games that have been culled from the improv handbooks from the years gone by.”
Mochrie has been setting up performances here and there with McGrath in between tour dates he’s been doing with Brad Sherwood, another Whose Line is it Anyway? alum. Though it’s hard to find time to set up dates with McGrath, with both of them being super busy, he feels he and his wife have a good onstage chemistry, especially when it’s just the two of them.
“We have the same sense of humour and I think we complement each other very well. So, it’s always fun to go out with her and it’s much easier travelling with her than Brad.”
This will be their first time in the Border City, and with Mochrie’s preference for smaller venues, he’ll hopefully feel at home at the Vic Juba theatre.
“The smaller ones are always nicer because it’s a more intimate thing and improv is kind of an intimate art but we’re certainly not adverse to playing large,” he said. “We once did a basketball arena in the States and it was 10,000 people. That was a little too big. We couldn’t hear any of the suggestions, it was just wallto- wall sound. But yeah, I would say anywhere from zero to 500 is a nice size.
“We’ve had zeros, but it was a while ago.”
The two comedians, who have been married for 25 years, first met on the set of Second City when McGrath hired Mochrie after his friend, Ryan Stiles suggested he audition. He moved to Toronto from B.C. and she hired him for the touring company.
“Deb first hired me at Second City 26 years ago and she had been with them for a couple years before that. She started on the main stage I think around 1980. So, between the two of us we’ve got like 60 years of improv experience.”
Mochrie’s love for improv comes from the unscripted excitement of walking on stage with no real idea of how the performance is going to go. He said unlike rock bands, who have to play the same hits every night, their shows are different every time.
It keeps it new for them and despite the amount of time they’ve spent working at their careers, every show is a different beast to try and tame.
“It’s the most death defying I’m going to get in life. There’s something cool about walking onto a stage with an audience there in front of you. You don’t have a show and working with your partner and audience to make that show makes it exciting,” he said. “It’s always fresh.”
He said they want people to come ready for a good time, and because of improv’s heavy use of audience participation, they expect the crowed to lift their game too.
“Here’s the only thing we can say to them, please don’t yell out gynecologist or proctologist. People yell it out every show, usually for the sound effects scene, I don’t know why and we’ll never take it.”