In addition to an alumnus of Toronto’s famous Second City comedy troupe and being considered one of leading improvisational comedians in the world, Colin Mochrie has become something more to his fans in Canada. He’s something of a national treasure.
Much like Rick Mercer, Mike Meyers, or even a band like the Tragically Hip, Mochrie is both well-known but personally familiar to Canadians. His celebrity never seems to overshadow his unassuming demeanour yet his unique ability to entertain is never in question.
Mochrie was born in Scotland but has lived his whole life in our home and native land. It was in Vancouver, shortly after giving up his wish to study marine biology, that he discovered improvisational comedy. He joined the cast at Second City in 1986, shortly after moving to Toronto.
Of course, Mochrie stepped onto the world stage when he took a television job on Whose Line is it Anyway?, a show on British television that turned the games and exercises taught at the Second City into a half-hour of cheap-to-produce comedy. The show became an unexpected hit that was sold to stations all over the English speaking world.
Since then, Mochrie has appeared on every episode of the first American version of Whose Line from 1998 to 2006; toured the world for a decade and a half with fellow Improv comedian Brad Sherwood; for two years was a regular on This Hour has 22 Minutes; reunited with the cast of Whose Line for a new American version; created a show where audience members are hypnotized and then perform improv with Mochrie that is set to tour North America; and, with his wife Debra McGrath, produced, wrote and starred in the CBC series Getting Along Famously.
An intimate performance with McGrath brings him to the Rose Theatre on Jan. 25.
“The show is a mix of improv, stories from our life together, some life lessons and, of course, red wine,” explains Mochrie.
Unlike his other ventures, the shows he does with his wife are less about pretending and more about who they are. McGrath is a successful writer, actor and director in her own right, but together they mix reality in with the fun.
“There are many rewards and I’m not just saying that because Deb is looking over my shoulder,” says Mochrie, of working with his wife. “It’s lovely to have someone you totally trust be on stage with you, especially in the world of improv. Because we are very good at separating work and life, it becomes a holiday interrupted by two hours of work.”
Mochrie has garnered many awards including a Writers Guild of Canada award, three Canadian Comedy Awards as well as a Gemini Award for his work on 22 Minutes. In 2010, Colin received the ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence. Despite those successes, Mochrie remains very Canadian, for lack of a better description, about his gifts.
“I was incredibly lucky that Whose Line came along and showcased my only marketable talent,” he said.
Despite this humility, Mochrie has two ongoing international comedy tours running and a third being developed. He also regularly appears on the current iteration of the show he gives so much credit to, Whose Line is it Anyway? He’s been a Canadian on American television for a total of 15 seasons now.
“Being a Canadian is a part of my makeup and it can’t help but come out while improvising, especially when working with Americans, but I never consciously think about it,” he explains. “I’m proud of being a Canadian and proud of our country, with all its plus and minuses. I am petitioning to be on the 50 dollar bill.”
As for the show at the Rose, his plans might be less grand, but no less appealing.
“Hopefully, the audience will learn a little about us and have a lot of good laughs,” says Mochrie. “For a couple of hours, you can forget about what is happening outside the theatre doors and enjoy some goofy fun.”
Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath are at the Rose Theatre on Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 905-874-2800 or by clicking here