’Still Making A Mochrie Out Of Life!’
Colin Andrew Mochrie was born on November 30th, 1957 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. As the son of an airline maintenance executive, his family tended to move around quite frequently. They first moved to Montreal in 1964, then to Vancouver in 1969. He considers himself a loner, shy but on a friends dare at age 16, he joined a High School play where he had the part of an undertaker. It was then when he got his first laugh by splitting his pants, that he knew that he’d found occupational calling. Having turned to Theatersports, he attended an acting school for four years.
He then teamed up Ryan Stiles to do improv and shortly after doing Expo '86, Colin moved to Toronto. There, he auditioned for The Second City where Ryan Stiles was working at the time. He was hired by Debra McGrath and in 1989, he and Debra got married. They later had a son, Luke, who was born in 1991. Colin worked in The Second City for three years.
These days, Colin is a regular on the American version of ‘Who's Line Is It Anyway?,’ the hit British series he’s starred in for nine years. Add to that his regular appearances on the Comedy Network, cartoons, commercials and movies, Colin is the quickly becoming a household name and voice.
Chatting recently with the man himself, our conversation revolved around many topics of discussion such as ‘Who’s Line …’, the Drew Carey Show and his brand new DVD release, ‘Jane White Is Sick & Twisted.’ But first, I wondered if he actually knew just how damn popular he really was?! ”It’s scary and I don’t know what it says for the viewing public,” he laughs. ”It is odd.”
Quotes: ‘Colin Mochrie is dazzlingly talented’ and ‘… is a standout star,’ but who does Colin Mochrie think he is?! ”I’m just a guy making a living. Thankful that my one skill has worked it’s way into a television show. When I started improv I never thought that this would be the way that I would make my living! It was always something that I just loved doing and the fact that ‘Who’s Line …’ came along was very fortunate for me. God knows what I’d be doing if it wasn’t around!”
Didn’t you also wish to be a Marine Biologist?! ”Yes, that is correct and it probably worked out best for everyone that it didn’t happen,” he laughs. ”My fascination for that first came from watching the TV show ‘Flipper’ and I became very attached to Dolphins and then I stated studying about various mammals of the sea and just got very interested in it.”
‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ has been such a success for you, but isn’t it true that you were first turned down for a role? What made you try again for it? ”Yes, I was. The first time they auditioned me I was at the ‘Second City’ in Toronto and they came to the show and the next morning before their flight, they auditioned the cast. It was about eight in the morning, which is prime time for comedy,” he gently laughs. ”And nobody got it and I realized afterwards it was that as a cast we work together really well, but nobody stood out. Everybody was being very generous with each other, but the second time was in L.A. where I didn’t know anyone. So it was pretty much, ‘Hey, look at me!’ And, so that’s how I got the part!”
13 years later and the show’s still going and you’re still on it! Isn’t there a question of over-exposing a joke for too long?! ”Er, I guess not,” he laughs. ”It’s still going strong, but it actually amazes me that it got on in the first place! It still shocks me that it took so long for America to embrace it because they just didn’t understand the concept. They just don’t know what the show is and we have people they’ve never heard of and so the fact that it ever happened is more amazing. I think the reason that it’s still so popular is that you can tell that the cast is still having a lot of fun with it.”
And you carried that fun, improv element over to the ‘Drew Carey Show’ also ”Yeah, when we did the live shows we still had the basic script though. The only things that would change was when they’d ring the bell and we’d have to come up with a new sentence. And we’d rehearse in different spots every time, so we could never really get comfortable!”
Being naturally shy, yet being able to wear the mask of a performer with great ease, how do you manage to make it look all so damn easy?! ”I think that part of it is that I’m working with people who are friends. Ryan (Stiles) and I know each other for over twenty-five years so when we’re on stage together I feel really comfortable.
In fact, the ‘Who’s Line ..’ arena is probably where I’ve felt the most comfortable my entire life. Everybody really enjoys each other’s company. We all find each other incredibly amusing and in a way, it’s having a party where there’s an audience watching and their filming hoping to get a show out of it! I like the fact that we succeed and fail on our own terms.”
Is it easier for you to perform ‘live’ in front of a studio audience or in front of a camera for a film? ”Defintely the live audience is a lot easier, and especially now with the success of ‘Who’s Line ..’ we get a lot more leeway than we did when we were starting out improv. Because they know who we are and they’re ready to laugh, so even if we’re a little off, by the end of the night we’re usually fine because the audience is so welcoming. When you’re doing a scripted thing, it’s harder because you’re trying to get the writers intent out. The Director also has a certain view of how you should do things and, of course, you do also. And so getting all those points of view together to make one performance that everyone’s happy with, it’s difficult.”
Being that ‘Jane White …’ was filmed over two years ago now, is it hard to come out and promote it after all this time?! ”It is kinda strange, yes. I’ve sort of kept tabs on where it’s been playing at various festivals, but I’ve yet to see the movie, but I hear it’s quite funny,” he laughs. ”I’m hoping to catch it at some point!”
What was it like working on that with your ‘Who’s Line …’ buddy, Brad Sherwood ? ”I think he got the call THAT day. Somebody had dropped out and so they gave him a quick call and like three hours later he was in make-up!”
Your role was a little ‘out of the ordinary’ for you this time around! ”Yeah, it was a little different from what I’d normally get cast in, in a big budget movie!”
So, what drew you to the role? ”Well, part of it was that it was so totally out there and different from anything that I would ever get cast for. It was certainly off-kilter, which appealed to me and I’m always looking for small parts to do because I want to get more relaxed in the media of film. So, I thought that this was perfect and a nice little part, and a bit of an acting exercise … and it fit into my schedule – all things which worked out lovely.”
How long did your part take to film? ”Two days,” he gently laughs. ”This was not your big budget extravaganza. These guys were working on a shoestring budget, but it was just so much fun.”
What was the weirdest part of the character that you played?! ”Well, at some point you’re sitting there staring at a woman’s crotch and she has a cucumber taped to her leg. They didn’t really cover this in acting school,” he laughs. ”I mean, we’ve all had situations that we’ve had to explain our way out of; situations that haven’t gone right for us, and so in that way we’ve all dealt with something like that!”
Was there an uncomfortable side to wearing all that kinky leather for your character?! ”You know, I’m not gonna be seen on the cover of Playgirl or anything! No, the wardrobe wasn’t something that I felt super comfortable in, but as a character choice it made sense. But I have to say that everybody was very gentle with me, telling me I looked nice and things!”
Any behind-the-scenes secrets? ”Well, we were shooting in rather a dingy part of town near Hollywood and Vine in this old hotel which I think they were renting by the minute! So, that was probably the most uncomfortable part, just being in that area. During scenes, I was just standing outside the hotel and there was this bag lady who started harassing me … and I was in my leathers! I kept telling her I didn’t really have anywhere to put anything! That was a little odd.”
What kind of a school boy were you? ”I was a quiet, studious boy. An honor role student and then I got into theatre. I never really did anything naughty, although I may have skipped one class. I know, it’s sad. This could easily be the dullest expose that you’ll ever hear. But I did dress up like a reindeer once for school, but that’s it. Nothing you could really sink your teeth into,” he laughs. ”I was a good kid but one thing I would always manage to do was get other people in trouble by making them laugh during class.”
Any nicknames at school ?! ”I gotta tell you, I had some of the worst nicknames. I had ‘To Kill A Mochrie Bird,’ but one of the worst ones was ‘Colly Wolly Doodle All The Day!’ They didn’t ever have a ‘Rock’ or a ‘Spike’, they were all songs!”
What’s been your favorite movie or TV role to play to date? ”Actually, my favorite was one that never made it into the final product and was in ‘Man On The Moon.’ My part was Andy Kaufman has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has gone to one of these New Age retreats and is being treated with crystals and they find out he’s terminal. So, they ask him to leave, so he won’t die there and give the place a bad rap and so my character is the one telling his manager that he has to leave. It was just a little scene, but I got to be directed by Milos Forman and it was a dramatic role for me. And I felt really good about it and I really liked what I did in it, which is very rare for me.”
Which British comedians influenced you growing up in both Scotland and Canada? ”Well, the Monty Python guys definitely. John Cleese was someone who definitely inspired me. I actually managed to steal some of his stuff, but I do it so badly nobody’s realized that I’ve been stealing from him,” he laughs. ”I was also a big Benny Hill fan, Morecambe & Wise, but it was very exciting for me to just watch British television because everyone looks normal! They’re all sexy, because they have that normal look. And they’re sexy because of their personalities so it was always a thrill for me to watch British television.”
Are you keeping tabs on the up and coming young comedians? ”Oh sure, but unfortunately they don’t get a lot of exposure over here. Every once in a while there’s a comedy festival in Kilkenny, Ireland, and that would be my one chance to see the young guys coming up. But, I’m always trying to see things from a different point of view from not only young comedians, but old comedians. I loved Jack Benny and watching old Bob Hope movies. But, when my son was born that was like another group. Watching him discover things for the first time gave me a new insight as everything is fresh to him. So, I can be easily inspired by anything,” he gently laughs. ”
Word has it that you’re a Trivia Buff? What kind of Trivia? ”A lot of old movies, old television shows. You know, nothing that can really help me in life! I know all the names of the characters off ‘Gilligan’s Island … their actual names! Things like that.”
And you’re also a Comic Book collector? What kind of Comic Books? ”I haven’t had as much time lately, but it’s always been Superman and Batman definitely. And then I go to Spiderman, and I even pick up any of the edgy new comics also.”
And you love playing Computer games? ”I’m a hockey fan, so computer hockey games, but every once in a while I get into the role-playing games where you get to kill stuff!”
What’s the weirdest ‘gift’ ever given to you by a fan?! ”It would be a cut-out of me with various cut-out clothes much like a little paper-doll of me!”
Do you still have it?! ”Er, yes. I don’t play with it, but I still have it.”
Do you have any new upcoming projects you can tell us about? ”I’m supposed to be actually filming a movie that a friend of mine actually wrote. His name’s Patrick McKenna and he plays Harold, the nephew on the ‘Red Green Show’ and we were at Second City together and are the best of friends. He wrote the script for the two of us and hopefully we’ll be shooting in June. It’s called ‘Those Guys’.”
Finally, leave me with a statement of truth! ”Sometimes, ‘Who’s Line …’ is the gayest show on television!,” he laughs for the last time.
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
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To win a PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED copy of Colin's new DVD 'Jane White Is Sick & Twisted,' just answer Colin's very own question: "In what ‘Who’s Line …’ game was the first time Ryan and I kissed?!"
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