Colin Mochrie is a fantastic actor and improvisational comedian, most famous for his work on the UK and U.S. versions of the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” This summer the CW Network brought back the improv show and Colin was part of the cast.

Not only does Colin do that show he also works with fellow actor and comedian Brad Sherwood on a two man show called “An Evening with Colin and Brad.” They tour literally around the world and perform funny and crazy scenes to a laughing audience.

If that was not enough Colin has a book out called “Not Quite the Classics” that is already available as an eBook, but will be in hard cover in October.

Colin was able to chat with me about “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” his live show, and his new book.

Art Eddy: I have to say I am big fan of your work on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” It is crazy for me to think of how many shows you have done both in the UK and in the United States. How do you keep things fresh season after season?

Colin Mochrie: That is a good question. (Laughs) Part of it is hoping that we get suggestions we never had before. Also coming up with new games. So those kind of things can change everything. Basically it is just trying to live for that moment.

Part of the secret is to walk out on stage with absolutely nothing in your mind, so you have nothing to fall back on except for what you have at that moment. I think the producers do a good job of working it out so that we don’t repeat things. They come up with different scenarios so we don’t fall into that trap.

AE: You have always worked with a great crew. What do you and the other cast members do to build chemistry before each season especially when a new actor comes on the show to be a regular?

CM: Basically one of the main things about improv is to make sure the person that you are working with is having fun. That is the first time we work with a person and that is the first time we get to work on that chemistry. For an example for this season on “Whose Line” we had many people we never had worked with before.

What is great about that is that since I never worked with them before so I don’t have to worry about coming up with hack stuff (Ryan) Stiles or Wayne Brady. It is nice to have that freshness. There is also a thing where you have to have a chemistry because a big part of improv is trust. A lot of the times you have to make that decision that well I am trusting this person. Obviously being in improv they have done this for years. They must know what they are doing. Whatever they do I am just going to accept. We are going to build on that and have fun. That’s what you do. I have to say for most of the time it works out.

AE: Out of the many guest stars you had on the show which ones completely surprised you with their improv skills?

CM: I have to go with Richard Simmons. Just because, God bless him, he was totally committed. He was ready to have a good time. He would give anything we would ask of him. That is what you want in a guest. You want someone who is willing to have fun. They are not worried about how they look. They are just there to enjoy themselves.

When Richard was with us, that one scene we did, the “Living Scenery” scene was the scene that got the biggest laughs ever over the entire “Whose Line” years. God bless him. It was because of his total commitment.

AE: Which cast member do you crack up constantly on the show and does anyone get you to lose it during the taping of show?

CM: I am very fortunate that I don’t find any of the other guys funny. (Both laugh) That makes it totally easy for me.  There are times we are hearing things from the audience for the very first time. Especially when you are so intense in the scene and you are hoping it is going to where you want it to and then something just comes out of nowhere. There is that moment where you are taken by surprise. You feel a giggle or a smile creep, but you hopefully get passed that.

There have been times where Ryan was laughing so hard that he can barely go on with the scene. Those are some of my favorite times. He is a hard guy to make laugh. He is pretty jaded. He has seen everything. So when you can actually break him up you feel like you have really done something.

AE: You have a book coming out in October called “Not Quite the Classics.” Tell me a bit about the book and what inspired you do write a book?

CM: My agent one day said you should write a book. I said here is the thing I don’t want to. I improvise because it is fun. Writing is work. I have nothing to write about. I have had a good life, but I don’t think that it is a particularly a good read. I really don’t have a style of living that would be that interesting to people. So based on that information he got me a book deal.

AE: (Laughs) So it was like hey thanks for listening.

CM: (Laughs) Yea. So I was like I guess I have to write a book. Everyone says write what you know. So I would do it in an improv sense. It is 12 short stories. There is a game called first line, last line in improv where you get the first line and the last line of a scene from the audience. So you have your beginning and end points and you make up the middle.

So there are 12 short stories. Every story begins and ends with a famous line from a novel. So one is “Moby Dick” and one is “A Tale of Two Cities.” The middle is totally different and has nothing to do with the classic.

AE: You also have a great live show in which you tour with Brad Sherwood called “An Evening with Colin and Brad”. How did that come about out?

CM: We had just started the Drew Carey version. Drew said, ‘Every Super Bowl weekend I have a gig in Vegas. Why don’t we all go down and do improv rather than me just doing standup?’

So that became a regular thing. That was great. We had a great time. The only problem was that there was like 11 of us on stage. So we really didn’t a lot of chances to do stuff. Brad and I are stage hogs. He said to me that he was thinking of doing this two man thing. He asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. So we started it off and just kept building on it. We enjoy doing it. So yea it has been a lot of fun.

AE: Whenever you do improve with other actors do you ever feel or know when a competition begins to outdo your fellow actors during a show?

CM: I hate to use the word competition, but I will. (Both laugh) I hate to use it because of the negative connotations of the word. Part if improv is sort of a passive aggressive competitiveness. Where you are trying to make sure everyone is having fun. Most of the competition is actually with yourself trying to keep pace with everyone.

Everyone has their own special skills. It is like a Justice League of improv. Everyone has their special powers. You just don’t want to be the weak member of the team. There is competition that way, but ultimately it is such an ensemble art form. Everybody is there to make sure the scene is working, that it is funny and everyone is having a good time.