Feature: A View from the Id

Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood Are Dangerously Funny in Two Man Group

Author: Bob Etier
Published: March 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

Critics of improvisational comedy complain that, with hundreds of audience suggestions being called out at once, performers can choose the words that they have already worked into routines. This may be true, but the object is to make the audience laugh, and improv done well—even if somewhat rehearsed and rehashed—is hilarious.

Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood are old hands at doing improv well, having appeared for years on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and performing a live stage show. Their show was just released on DVD, Two Man Group: Live and Dangerous Comedy, and—as anticipated—it is uproarious. Mochrie and Sherwood have elevated improv to an art, and they quickly build rapport with their audience—an essential element of improvisation.

In addition to being asked to provide topics, audience members are brought on stage to play improvisational “games.” In “Moving Bodies,” two audience members must move their puppets, Mochrie and Sherwood, around the stage to act out a scene. In “Sound FX,” audience members provide the sound effects for the scene. “One Word Expert” has the two performers giving advice, one word at a time, alternating between each one; the audience provides the questions. By engaging the audience this way, the performers aren’t able to use prefabricated routines since they don’t know what the audience members will do or say.

Other bits include “Sideways” in which Mochrie and Sherwood act out a scene while lying down on a flat background, “Jeopardy,” “Interpreter,” “Torture,” and “Mousetraps” which has them doing an improvised sketch while barefoot and blindfolded with 250 mousetraps on the floor and 21 hanging from above. The funniest sketches are the ones with the most audience involvement in which the unexpected provides challenges for the performers, but the entire show is laugh-out-loud funny. Viewers will wish it was at least twice as long as it is.

There are two extras on the DVD, an extended spat between Mochrie and Sherwood on “The DOs and DON’Ts of Improv,” and “Interviews with Colin and Brad” by Colin and Brad. Both are very funny. DVD bonus features often disappoint and aren’t much of a bonus, but these two are worth watching.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Two Man Group? I would have to—I was laughing throughout the entire show; it’s hugely entertaining.


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Article Author: Bob Etier

Two words describe Bob Etier: "female" and "weird." Like many freelance writers, there's something about her that isn't quite right. Read her stuff and find out what.

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