19-11-27 ARTS Scared Scriptless.jpg

“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” stars Colin Mochrie, left, and Brad Sherwood will make their Wood River debut this Saturday.

After the din of Thanksgiving and Black Friday fade into memory, a new cacophony will erupt in Ketchum: that of unbridled laughter. The Argyros Performing Arts Center has lined up a wholly unique—literally, by definition—one-night-only evening of improv comedy by Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, perhaps best known as stars of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Mochrie and Sherwood enjoyed a chance encounter working on a project being produced by Mochrie’s wife, Debra McGrath. Just six months after that, by another happy coincidence the pair reunited on ABC’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Mochrie is a mainstay of the network’s highly popular reiteration of the British improvised comedy program, having appeared in 339 episodes across all 15 seasons—more credits than any other performer in the show’s colorful history.

Sherwood, while not a primary cast member for the entire series, has the second most appearances as a recurring featured performer, having charmed audiences in 70 episodes between the original 1998 run and the current 2019 season.

With a couple decades of professional rapport under their belts, Mochrie and Sherwood possess an indelible flair for the comedic, playing off each other and the audience with a frantic energy and manic wit.

The pair has toured “Scared Scriptless” throughout the United States and Canada for 17 years.

Sherwood reckons he has stumbled into a unique profession.

“Improv is the only thing people do where excellence cannot be achieved through practice, repetition or muscle memory,” he said. “You have to be different every time. It goes counter to everything else we learn in life. You practice some basic tools, but you can never predict how you’ll be called upon to use them each time.

“Every audience is different and we always use a lot of people in our show. Sometimes you bring someone up and they don’t do anything or are too nervous, but part of our job is to make it funny even when it’s not working. When it’s going great, it’s funny. When it’s not going great, we try to make it even funnier. Turn big mistakes into huge laughs. We expect that about 50 percent of people we bring on stage won’t be ideal.”

That random chaos is an integral element of their medium and helps guarantee that no two shows are alike, making each performance a special occurrence.

“That’s kind of the point of improv. We’re never in control. We try to take as much of the control away from ourselves as possible,” Sherwood said. “The audience can see that we’re flying by the seats of our pants. We’re in full-blown crisis mode for two hours.”

Despite their experience and the fact they have been touring together for nearly two decades, Mochrie and Sherwood never produce the same routine twice. That fact is both a blessing and curse. On the one hand, it lends a sense of uniqueness, immediacy and even urgency to their show. On the other, it leads to Sherwood saying “you kind of had to be there” a fair amount.

As for the content of the show, Mochrie and Sherwood generally attempt to keep things at least somewhat clean, but every show is different and the nature of the material is, by definition, impossible to predict.

Since audience participation is also a key factor, there is a limit on the control the two stars have over the course of the show. Neither can they anticipate what an audience member may shout out to them. The general rule they suggest for “Scared Scriptless,” as for most things, is for parents to exercise their best judgment in regard to what is or is not appropriate for their children.

More than any concert, play or standup comedy routine, this will truly, literally be a “one night only” event at the Argyros. No audience will ever witness this edition of “Scared Scriptless” again after the Nov. 30 show.

The performance will begin at 7 p.m. at the Argyros. Tickets are currently available online for $60. Visit theargyros.org for details.

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