They say never meet your heroes. But if your hero is Colin Mochrie – best known as a legendary veteran of the improv show Whose Line Is It Anyway? – do whatever you can to meet him. Last Tuesday I did just that and got to perform with him. My experience was 2 minutes that I I’ll remember for a very long time to come.
Tuesday nights at Toronto’s Comedy Bar is Wheel of Improv, hosted by the extremely charming and talented Natasha Boomer. ‘Wheel’ is an improv jam show where anyone can run up on stage. A lot of new and intermediate improvisers are often joined by experienced local talent to test their short form skill, like Whose Line type games. This is all done in front of an extremely caring and supportive audience.
March 1, 2016 Colin Mochrie was the special guest and I knew I had to be there – even if just to watch. Normally each scene starts with Boomer getting an audience member up to spin the wheel that decides which game you’ll be playing. But with Mochrie in attendance, a bucket was used to keep things civil and organized. So before the show even began I had to make my decision; put my name in or not. I’m proud to say it didn’t take me long. I was all in.
The show starts. The audience is full of excited fans. With me are friends Corey, Tamlynn and Nicolas and we’re pumped. Nicolas and I perform in an improv troupe together called Shots Fired! The situation seems so surreal.
A scene or two into the show Nicolas’ name gets pulled from the bucket so he tosses me his phone and runs on stage. I attempt to take some photos but realize I’m missing the show. So I lock it up and enjoy the rest of the scene. Nicolas kills it. He comes back; biggest smile.
I say, “I tried to get some pics and a little video. But none of it looks very good.”
He responds, “I don’t care! That was awesome, I’m just glad I did it!”
It was like he just went bungee jumping. I start to get nervous knowing my name is about to be called any moment. Nicolas leans over to me and whispers, “Just listen to him. He’ll carry you.”
The lack of confidence in me is a little rattling, but the advice makes sense. And eventually my name is called… is this really happening? Yes. Yes it is. I’m on stage with Colin Mochrie. Fucking Colin Mochrie! This guy helped inspire me to join my high school improv team, where some of my fondest high school memories happened! And why I later (much later), started taking Second City classes, where I’ve met some of my best friends and comedy partners including Shots Fired! and how I eventually became a member of my B-Team, …um, I mean A-Team, Cookie-Biscuits. Colin Mochrie is largely responsible for who I am today, and now he’s standing 3 feet away from me, on stage, in front of like 80 or so people.
I spin the wheel (of improv) and pray to God that it lands on a game that I know. It doesn’t. Boomer begins to explain the game, but I am scared, excited, and gassy (nerves, right?). Half way through, realizing that I probably could’ve been paying better attention, I look over towards Colin looking for some reassurance. He looks at me, and shrugs as if to say “I can’t help you, I’m also not quite sure what’s happening.” The guy’s a genius. I’m calmed.
Boomer calls for a suggestion from the booth which is occupied by Mark Andrada, often described as the best tech in the Toronto comedy scene.
“80’s workout video!”, he shoots over the speakers.
Boomer doesn’t love this idea. “Orchard!”, she smiles wide.
“I liked my idea.”, Mark frowns.
The lights go down and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” begins to play (the workout anthem of the 80’s).
“What’s the suggestion?”, Colin raises his eyebrows.
“Orchard”, Boomer whispers loudly, then the lights come up.
…so what are we doing?
I remember what Nicolas said and decide to let Colin carry me. After all he’s the professional.
A moment passes, it feels like forever but in actuality it was about 2 seconds and neither of us have said anything. C’mon Colin Mochrie! Let’s do this thing! …and then it hits me, he’s letting me choose! He’s such a god damned professional, that he’s letting me decide which decision we go with! And thank god, because there’s no way I could pull off 80’s workout video. And so I begin;
“The sun is hot today…”
What follows is a blur of weird decisions. There’s a video to prove it. And I love every minute of it (all 2 of them). I couldn’t be more grateful.
At the end of the show Natasha announces that she’s decided to stop doing Wheel of Improv. There’s only 9 weeks left. It’s only my second time there, but the news hits me right in the gut. This show has been providing people with friends and experiences for years. I hate to see things end, especially when I’ve only just got on board! So for anyone reading this, please go see and participate in some of it’s final shows. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
And maybe you too could be standing on a stage, staring at Colin Mochrie and wondering; “seriously; who’s line is it anyway?”