The only rule is that you must wear pants.
Comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” have created a virtual, interactive improv show coming live to a screen near you.
Using Zoom and WireCast, the two comedians — Sherwood in Las Vegas and Mochrie in Toronto, Canada — virtually visit your living room. Each show connects the improv duo with about 200 audience members who ultimately become part of the comedy scenes.
“Nothing will take the place of a live performance,” Colin Mochrie said. “But this comes close.”
Available for streaming via the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center, the interactive show allows for audience suggestions and a completely improvised show.
“I’m trying to figure out if it’s better to all of a sudden be thrust into the show when you’re at home with family members,” he said. Bringing audience members up on stage during in-person shows can be a little intimidating due to the lights, and all eyes, on you. “With this, I think there’s sort of a safety net, I’m hoping … No one’s sued us yet, so it must be all right.”
No need to warn your attorney just yet — the improv shows are suitable for all ages.
Be aware you may end up in the jokes, or as a punchline. Before the show, audience members have the option to consent to being part of the play so nobody feels put on the spot, Mochrie said.
Each show focuses on framework scenes with verbal games, such as a travel scene using photos sent in by viewers, and the use of greenscreens to do special effects, like when Mochrie becomes a floating head and answers questions from the audience in limerick form.
The oddest part, Mochrie said, is that the comedians don’t hear any sort of reaction as they usually would from an in-person audience.
“We just go on the blind faith that we’re being funny and hope it works out,” he said. “You come to realize how important the audience is to our show.”
That’s because they’re supplying all of the joke foundations, but they also dictate the pace of the show, what type of humor is going to be a hit with the crowd, and create a living organism in the theater, Mochrie said.
Sherwood and Mochrie have been touring together for 18 years, and when the pandemic shutdowns began, they realized live theater performances may be one of the last events to return.
“I think I’d be going quite insane if we hadn’t had this outlet,” he said. “Coming up with this, Brad and I had sort of a creative burst in trying to figure out ways of doing this, coming up with new improv games. If we ever do get back to touring at some point, we’d like to incorporate some of the stuff we’ve done in this show and put it into our stage show.”
Once the pandemic put life as we once knew it on a hiatus, people turned to the arts in the form of Netflix or watching sitcoms they grew up with as a sort of “comfort food,” Mochrie said. “I think it gives us a little sense of community. It’s a thing that we’re missing right now.”
Amusement and escapism are the goals of each performance, for both the comedians and audience members. No politics, no pandemic, but yes, pants.
Join in on the fun with the “Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Stream of Consciousness” along with eight other virtual shows offered by the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center.
“Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Stream of Consciousness” is at 5 p.m. Nov. 21, 27; Dec. 5, 19 and at 4 p.m. Dec. 13.
Other upcoming shows by the PAEC include “The Brook & The Bluff” at 6 p.m. Nov. 25; a solo performance by Mary Chapin Carpenter at 5 p.m. Nov. 27; “A (Virtual) Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase & Beverly D’Angelo” at 5 p.m. Nov. 28; and more.
Shows are available throughout November and into December with tickets on sale now. To view the entire lineup, visit fwpaec.org.