When trying to recall some of the stranger moments in his travels, Mochrie has trouble at first, then suddenly remembers the audience member who showed up to a performance in a horse costume.
“It wasn't Halloween,” he tells Pittsburgh City Paper in a phone interview. “There were no horse-related holidays happening. And nobody mentioned it. He just kind of sat there. I think we even brought him up to do this rap song to him, again, not mentioning that they were a horse.”
Mochrie and Sherwood will, on Fri., Jan. 28, stop at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall for their Scared Scriptless Tour, described as “a hilarious comedic high wire act.”
The tour delivers what many comedy lovers and aspiring young comedians have enjoyed since the late-'90s, when Whose Line, a loosely competitive improv show adapted from a British series, aired on Comedy Central. After being canceled, the show later experienced a revival at ABC and then at The CW.
Over the years, the show has featured a consistent group of improv performers, including Mochrie, Sherwood, Ryan Stiles, and Wayne Brady, along with a rotating variety of fellow funny people and celebrity guests.
While the skits on Whose Line could veer into more adult territory, Mochrie says he and Sherwood tend to keep the Scared Scriptless Tour “fairly family-friendly.”
“Just because families come to the show, we have everything from kids to grandparents,” he says. “So it never gets any more risque than the TV show, which, granted, it's not a low bar. But yeah, it's not like it's riddled with F-bombs or anything. It tends to get a bit childish, I guess, is a way to put it, and that’s mostly Brad.”
As expected with improv, the Scared Scriptless Tour requires participation from the audience, from suggesting topics for skits to being brought up on stage. Mochrie says the element of a live audience is something he and Sherwood missed since the start of the pandemic, which led to plenty of canceled tour dates. The two performers decided to try and perform over Zoom, which Mochrie, a seasoned live performer, can only describe as “interesting.”
“It made us realize how important the audience is to our show,” says Mochrie. “You know, when you're doing a comedy show to silence, it's really odd. So getting back on the road was great.”
He says this was despite working with an amazing technical crew that was able to make it look as though he and Sherwood were in the same room, despite being miles apart from each other in different cities at the time (Sherwood was in Las Vegas, while Mochrie was in Toronto).
“We could actually go into people's living rooms and do scenes with them,” says Mochrie. “So that was kind of cool, figuring out what we could do with the technology, but it's still very odd doing a show and just being blindly confident that you're funny.”
For those worrying that their laughs might come with COVID-19, Mochrie says they will “have all the protocols in place so that it's safe for everybody,” including the performers and the audience. He adds that safety measures vary from venue to venue and that guests should check what is required before heading out.
For this event, the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall website says that “per the artists' request, patrons must remain masked throughout the entirety of the performance in the Music Hall.” The venue will have masks available on-site. Failure to adhere to such guidelines “may result in ejection without a refund.”
The return of live comedy events like the Scared Scriptless Tour may inspire some to explore their own interest in improv, for which Mochrie has some advice.
“I say, do it as often as you can, where you can, work with people who are better than you,” he says. “Unfortunately, it's not one of those things you can learn from a book. You learn from being in front of an audience and dying and succeeding. … I've been really lucky, and from the very beginning of my improv career, I was working with great people. And the more fun you have on stage, the more the magic happens. Above all, have fun. It's not rocket science. You're just making up crap.”
Scared Scriptless Tour. 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 28. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. 510 East 10th Ave., Munhall. $35-55. All ages. librarymusichall.com