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A night of improvised madness at UB Mochrie and Sherwood keep audience in stitches with their spontaneous antics

Laughter in all its permutations exploded during the Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood show at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts Saturday night. Guffaws, titters, cackles, chortles, giggles … you name it.

The varied sounds of people enjoying themselves roared through the hall as the duo played theater games, generating comically absurd situations.

The program was billed as an "interactive" one, and so it was, with some audience members injected into the mix to aid and abet the featured performers.

None of this was new to fans of Mochrie and Sherwood, whose stints on the "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" series prepared viewers in the audience for an evening of improvised comedic madness. All the games were intellectual challenges with occasional flurries of slapstick physical humor, under the direction of the ringmasters on stage

Mochrie and Sherwood took turns getting the audience to select words and/or situations that would be acted upon, setting the ground upon which they based their humor. The more challenging or seemingly inappropriate the idea appeared to be, the more it drove the participants, amateurs and professionals alike, to take to risks in the spirit of shared adventure.

A game called "Moving Bodies" found Mochrie and Sherwood bantering about Swiss mountain goats and taxidermy, all concepts chosen by the audience, as two folks selected from their seats moved, pushed and prodded the duos' bodies to "help" enact a situation where Mochrie eventually gives up life as a taxi dancer.

"Kick It" turned on the conceit of the performers, two middle-aged white men, as rappers riffing on philately, love, a buffalo and organic chemistry. "Sound Effects" put microphones in the hands of audience members who tried to concoct appropriate noises for spots in a tale about a circus, a pterodactyl and a root canal.

There were other skits as well, but two really stood out for totally different reasons.

The "World's Most Dangerous Improv Game" was really the "Alphabet Game" (the participants exchanged sentences beginning with the next letter, going from "A" to "B" and so forth) with blindfolds, 100 fully armed mousetraps and the two men in bare feet. It ended in a flurry of cheating as Mochrie lifted his blind and began throwing mousetraps at Sherwood as the two exchanged sentences.

But the highlight of the evening undoubtedly came earlier in the program, when a woman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was selected out of the audience and placed on a stool. She became the focus of improvised lyrics based upon her life. At the end of the routine, just as she was ready to leave her seat, Mochrie and Sherwood introduced her boyfriend, who came from behind the stage to propose marriage. She said yes, happy tears were shed, and the audience gave the newly engaged couple a standing ovation.


Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group

Saturday evening in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts Mainstage Theatre, North Campus, Amherst.