MANCHESTER, NH – If all the world’s a stage, then comedian Colin Mochrie’s the guy doing sight gags and sound effects, pulling one-liners from his imagination like a magician’s string of endless handkerchiefs, and savoring every improvisational moment.
Turns out it was his destiny to pratfall into a profession that didn’t exist when he was a kid.
“I was very quiet as a kid, a bookworm. I loved old movies and watching anything with Dick Van Dyke or Bob Hope. I was planning to become a marine biologist but then I tried out for a school play and got my first laugh – which changed all that,” Mochrie says. “And so began the long slow slog to middle stardom.”
His well-timed punchline aside, Mochrie has built a solid career in comedy that proves otherwise.
For more than three decades Mochrie has been one of the most recognizable faces of comedy, thanks to the popularity of the “Whose Line Is It Anyway” first in the UK and then in the U.S. on ABC with host Drew Carey.
“I really am living the dream,” says Mochrie during a recent phone interview in advance of his Sept. 17 stop at The Palace Theatre for ”Scared Scriptless,” with his longtime partner in comedy Brad Sherwood. “Plus, it’s a big boost for Brad’s career,” he says, with a subtle laugh.
“I could not have written this any better myself. I’m doing a job that didn’t really exist when I was growing up, but it’s part of the reason Brad and I are still out here doing it. I just lucked into it and now it’s been 20 years with Brad and 30 with ‘Whose Line.’ Every show we do is totally different. It’s not like being a rock band and we have to go out and do our greatest hits night after night.”
Attendees can expect the comedy duo to deliver an evening of laugh-out-loud improv as Mochrie and Sherwood return to the Palace to celebrate their 20th-anniversary tour.
In a world that seems to be a bit of a dumpster fire, demand for comedy is not slowing down, Mochrie says.
“We’re booked up until the middle of 2024 with this tour,” says Mochrie. “Certainly we’re not booked for every weekend and we want to take it a little easier now that we’re older. But we’re doing at least 6-8 shows a month.”
Turns out the comedy culture has become an essential public service, especially since the pandemic.
“Everyone was locked down and going onto Netflix and catching up with stand-up specials,” Mochrie says. It was the antidote to what ailed us most, which was isolation, fear and depression.
“My wife was telling me this after 9-11. She was getting her hair done and sitting beside a psychologist who said that after 9-11 they were recommending ‘Whose Line,’ to people who were coming in for help. A half an hour of not thinking about anything. Just a goofy kind of fun,” Mochrie says.
And that is precisely the dark hole of humanity that comedy can fill, Mochrie says.
“Right now everyone is so divided and disconnected, so to have a group of people in one place laughing at the same thing, that’s a powerful thing. And we say off the top, ‘no political stuff.’ Scared Scriptless is two hours of goofy fun to get you away from that feeling,” Mochrie says.
If there was a pandemic silver lining, it was having to press the pause button during COVID, which gave Mochrie a chance to breathe.
“While you don’t want to talk positively about a pandemic, I enjoyed it in a way. It was the longest I’d been home in 20 years,” Mochrie says. “I found out my wife and I still enjoy one another and it reminded me I needed more balance in my life.”
Since then things have returned to whatever normal is in the life of a stand-up comedian. In addition to this tour with Sherwood, Mochrie has also been collaborating with hypnotist Asad Mecci for a a new twist on the improv formula, called Hyprov, now showing in Vegas.
Yes, it’s what you think it is: Audience members perform improv with Mochrie and a cast of rotating comedians under hypnosis.
For Mochrie, it’s just another extension of the one thing we all have in common – a funny bone – and affirmation of the profound impact comedy has on the human condition.
“I don’t think I’ll ever fully retire – I’m planning not to – but I would like to pull back and kind of take care of myself more and take care of my family. I can’t see giving up walking on stage and getting laughs. That’s an ego thing. It feels good to just make up a bunch of stuff with people I don’t know and create a show out of nothing,” Mochrie says. “I hope to keep going. I plan to be the Walking Dead of comedy.”
Tickets for Scared Scriptless are $59-79 and available through the Palace Theatre website here, or you can go to the box office, located at 80 Hanover St., to purchase them in person.