Colin Mochrie: Whose Life Is It Anyway?
You would think that a man who possesses a funny bone like Colin Mochrie’s would be exceedingly outgoing - an extrovert among extroverts, no doubt. You would think that...but you’d be wrong. Colin Mochrie is anything but an extrovert, despite what you see on television. In fact, Colin is a self-proclaimed “introvert” and “science geek,” who was more apt to become a marine biologist after high school than a famed improv artist. Lucky for us, Colin’s love for the “chuckle” overcame his penchant for fish. I am rather confident that both the world and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” would have lost a great talent and countless laughs had it not.
As many would agree, Colin Mochrie is to improv what peanut butter is to jelly. How can you have one without the other and call it “good?” However, like most things that are extraordinary in the making, Colin’s brand of humor did not come easy. It took years of crafting amidst long stints of joblessness and worry. If that were not enough, Colin had to stretch the limits of his personality and comfort zone to overcome his natural shyness, transforming it into a “relatability” that confounds even the most humorous and gregarious of audiences.
“Mind over matter” so to speak, Colin’s hard work and commitment, obviously, paid off -- landing him a multitude of awards, including a number of Canadian Comedy Awards, a Gemini Award, and a Writers Guild of Canada Award. It also won him a permanent stint on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (US) and regular comedic showings around the world.
A native Scotsman, who grew up in Canada then made a name for himself in the United States, Colin Mochrie is a man of many lands, talents, and faces -- all of which manifest themselves into a “world class” entertainer whose brilliance can not be matched.
With all of those sides to him, is it any wonder that Colin’s interview, below, is so full of wit and discovery? I can’t have imagined it going any other way.
Enjoy getting to know more about the man behind the laughter.
What is your personal mantra?
I am, currently, applying an important rule of improv to my overall life, grounded in the phrase, “Yes and…”
The crux of what I am trying to do is simple. I am trying to expand past my comfort zone, specifically, to try new things that I may normally shy away from due to my quiet and, somewhat, reserved nature. In forcing myself to say “Yes” to what I might otherwise say “No” to (then adding in the “and”), I transform “reaction to action” and open up my life in a way I, presently, desire.
You grew up being described as a quiet and shy child. Are you naturally quiet and shy and do use comedy as a way of breaking out of that?
Yes. I tend to be the “quiet and shy, bookworm-type.” Comedy allows me to show another side of myself.
Given that you originally wanted to become a marine biologist, are you an animal advocate? Do you own a pet?
I grew up heavily into the sciences. My love for marine biology resulted from my enjoyment of the show “Flipper,” a series based upon a dolphin. I own a dog - a cairn terrier to be exact.
You were introduced to acting and comedy in high school. What makes you love to make people laugh?
I’d need hours of psychotherapy to figure that one out. In lieu of this, my simple answer would be, “I love the actual sound of laughter. I’m nearly addicted to it, especially when in response to MY jokes. It’s been that way ever since I received my first chuckle."
Explain the most significant turning point in your career?
It was landing “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” in the United States.
What is the most fun time that you ever had professionally?
Definitely doing “Whose Line…” The beauty of that show is that we shoot the entire season in L.A. in two weekends, and I get to work with friends. This schedule allows me to travel, perform, and partake in additional projects outside of "Whose Line..." a great deal, which I really enjoy doing as well.
What was your biggest challenge?
My “career” overall has been my biggest challenge. Improv, for me, began as something for fun. The series “Whose Line…” made improv a hot property, which allowed me to secure steady work (beginning at age forty). Prior to this, I endured twenty-two years of fragmented work. At this point in my life, I have learned how truthful the statement is that “Life is a marathon.”
Describe your favorite thing about long-time friend Ryan Stiles?
Ryan has no ego, and “no ego” especially in comedy. He is a very giving artist who is as ready to set-up a punchline for others as he is for himself.
Who do you like to go see when you want a good laugh?
Monty Python, the Marx Brothers, and Laurel and Hardy are some of my favorites. Admittedly, I like to figure out what I can steal from these comedic greats.
What makes someone funny in your opinion?
Commitment. The commitment to the idea that you are completely right in what you’re doing or know how to make it better. Commitment makes great comedy.
Who is your greatest comedic influence?
Bob Hope. His talent was so wide-versed and he demonstrated incredible stamina.
What tends to be your biggest fear in life?
My natural pessimism keeps me thinking that my career will be over the very next day.
If you had to pick anyone in history or future to have dinner with, who would that be? What is the first thing you would ask him/her?
William Shakespeare. I’d ask him, “Which ones did you actually write?”
What is something that you would like to do in the future that you have yet to try?
I’ve always wanted to be the star of an action movie; current day thoughts include an action movie for old, out-of-shape men.
Are you aligned with any charitable organization or supportive of a particular social cause that you can share?
My wife and I are ambassadors for Lupus. We are also involved in raising the awareness around “Gilda’s Club.”
When “All” is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as the guy who said “Yes and…” The man who did it his way (with minimal talent), loved family, tried to do his best, and made someone laugh.
Colin, no doubt, you will be remembered for all those things and more -- less the “minimal talent” part as I don’t see that “headlining” your epitaph as it didn’t, your life. Thanks for saying “Yes and…” to this interview and for sharing more of yourself with us! My bucket list just got a whole lot lighter having interviewed you and hopefully, with one more “Yes and…” under your belt, yours did too!
Many thanks to Colin Mochrie and Jonas Public Relations for making this interview possible.