TORONTO — You want improv? The Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company is about to give you improv royalty.
Colin Mochrie, one of Canada’s leading improv comedians, will star in a fundraiser for the theatre on May 28 at the George Weston Recital Hall in the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
The one-night-only show is titled Whose (Jewish) Line Is It Anyway? and will feature Mochrie doing what he does best, riffing with and off of his fellow improvisers – his co-stars for this show are Toronto Second City alums Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus – and making the audience howl… with laughter, that is.
In a phone interview with The CJN last week, the veteran of the hit TV improvisational comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyways? – which ran on ABC from 1998 to 2007 and will soon run again – said he’s honoured to be helping raise money for the theatre.
“As you know, I’m the face of Jewish theatre,” he quipped, when asked why he got involved with this show.
Seriously though, Mochrie said he and his wife, comedian Deb McGrath, have previously hosted Jewish galas for other causes.
“I have this innate Jewishness in me that seems to resonate” with audiences, he jokingly said. “We’re big theatre fans. And we’ve seen great things [at the Harold Green Theatre]. And we truly believe there’s a need for it to keep going. Anything we can do to help, we’re there.”
So, does he prepare for a “Jewish” Whose Line differently than for other improvisational shows?
“That’s a very good question. I don’t know. I assume the improv will be colooured by the suggestions we’ll get. We’re not quite sure what we’re doing yet,” he said, chortling. “This is the beauty of our work. I love the fact that we have a show, and we don’t actually have a show.”
David Eisner, Harold Green Theatre’s co-artistic director and a friend of Mochrie’s, said his organization is “thrilled and honoured” to count the Whose Line star as part of its company.
“Colin has always been a tremendous friend to our company over the years. His heart is as wonderful as his comedy,” Eisner said.
Mochrie recently returned from taping new episodes of Whose Line in Los Angeles for the CW Network, which will begin airing them on July 16. His partners in comedic crime for much of the first run of the show, Wayne Brady and Ryan Stiles, also returned for the reboot.
A rotating cast of improvisers will fill in the fourth slot for the troupe on TV this summer.
Asked whether his style has changed in the intervening years between Whose Line’s end in 2007 and the new version, Mochrie said “kind of.
“I was a little nervous about trying to recapture something that was so of-the-time. But once [Stiles, Brady and he] started working together again, it felt like we’d been doing this constantly,” he said.
Mochrie noted that the three comedians are friends off-screen as well, and although they don’t communicate as often as they’d like, all of them have been working constantly in improv since they last worked as an ensemble.
So the comedic chops and interplay are still there, he said.
Has he been influenced by Jewish comedians?
“Growing up, a lot of people who inspired me comedically were Jewish,” Mochrie said. “I was a big Jack Benny fan. I loved the way he used silences. I loved Jerry Lewis, because he was off-the-wall. Woody Allen… the list goes on. And in music as well. I love the Jewish ‘thing’ of just grabbing onto life and enjoying it. It’s something the more uptight of us could take to heart.”
For more information or to order tickets, call 416-932-9995, ext. 224, or visit www.hgjewishtheatre.com.