Hi and welcome to the backlot a discussion with the entertainment industries top talent. I’m Eric Conner senior instructor.

And I’m Aerial Segard acting alum and coordinator here at the New York Film Academy.

And in this episode we explore the improvisatory world of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood stars of the comedic high wire act. Whose Line Is It Anyway.

Every once in a while if one of us busts and starts giggling it’s like my favorite thing in the world and I’m usually the one that busts first.

Yeah I don’t find anyone I work with funny. That. Makes it a lot easier.

Now I’ve tried doing improv and let me tell you the thought of doing it in front of a full house. Night after night is terrifying. But as Mr. Sherwood explained they found improvisation to be simpler than working with even the shortest of scripts.

I’m terrible at auditioning for scripted stuff but that’s why I mostly liked going out on either hosting auditions or commercial auditions right because it was really about throwing in your own stuff. When I go out. I am the worst person to talk about auditioning as far as going reading a script memorizing lines and then going into fluorescent lit room and trying to pretend like I am in a bunker during a war. It’s so does not work for me. That’s why I’ve never been able to really do well at that. I sort of fell into improv. I was working in TV production. I went to school for acting but when I first got out here one of the jobs I fell into was TV production. And a guy I was working with said there’s this cool improv class you might want to check out. And I had never really done improv seen it but it was like someone handed me the instrument I was meant to play you know here. Here’s the oboe. You know you’ve been trying to play tuba your whole life right.

Both stars had been working for years but made their name on the improv based Whose Line Is It Anyway. First on the stage and then on the television show host in the United States by Drew Carey.

Welcome to Whose Line is it Anyway The Show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right the points are as worthless as the phrase campaign finance reform.

They just felt much more comfortable going in front of an audience without a net.

Speaking as the actor that I am which is I’m not a really great serious actor. As a Swiss Army knife I have fish Scaler and sledgehammer you know like those are my acting styles and like whenever whenever I’m cast in like a movie or a TV show I tend to be the slightly over the top. Like in Jane white as sick and twisted. I played like this perverse old street guy. So I didn’t have to tamp it down. They kind of hired me for being ridiculous and knowing I was going to go to 11 instead. I think that my skill set and the industry have sort of I would say pigeonholed me maybe I’ll break over into the other side and I’ll be doing legitimate dramatic roles like Tom Hanks someday. But you know the likeness of that happening at this point.

It’s also hard because and this will shock people that I tend to be more subtle when I’m auditioning for television and things like that. And they always I always get called in for the big characters and I don’t feel it’s not what I feel comfortable doing. I mean it’s hard to tell that from some of the stuff I’ve done on Whose Line. But I tend to go the other way and I always. My rule is I’ll only go as big as I feel comfortable doing and then when it gets beyond that then it’s not good for anyone. It’s not you know it doesn’t really service the character. I can’t get them what they want so we’re just wasting everybody’s time.

I’m the other direction I’ll only go as subtle as I feel comfortable with it.

We’ve yet to see that.

I’ve just made a mess out of so many auditions because I think it’s a confidence thing as well. I’m so incredibly confident making people laugh and making things up. But then when I’m handed a script that has even just the least bit of dramatic content or I have to be sort of sincere. I just have a hard time doing it. And the editor inside my own brain goes You’re a funny bastard and right now you’re doing something that’s not in your wheelhouse. You know it’s like you’re a master at this but yet you’re trying to do some other art form really. I mean. I think I learned pretty quickly out here that that was my strength so I might as well really hold on to it so I actually am always in awe of people that are great at drama. And you know and being truly vulnerable that’s always something that sort of eluded me and I think it alludes a lot of comedic people because the comedy is your armor. You know you are sort of baring yourself while you’re making people laugh. But it’s you’re baring yourself in a way that’s completely different than the people that are acting like a Jake Gyllenhaal who’s like ripping himself open and going here I am.

Even when they try to store a bit ahead of time having a joke in the chamber so to speak only takes them so far when in the middle of an improv game.

The newscasters. I would always before the show come up with some really bad pun because I love puns and usually that was planned although every once in a while I would forget and then it’d be oh crap. I have to come up with and luckily I have a large storage of bad jokes so I would just sort of come out.

Welcome to the six o’clock news I’m burn nightly.

Olly Oxenfree.

Chester flatbottom.

Chester moistmuffin.

Chester Snapdragon McFisticuff.

Our top story today a national study shows that balding men make the best lovers.

We’ll be back soon to the wildlife movie Bertha the dyslexic ephalent.

We’ll be back to our nature documentary hood the circumcised cobra in just a second.

Our top story from the Middle East. Benjamin Netanyahu today changed his name to Benjamin Netan-yahoo.

But everything else all the other guys they never knew what their character was until Drew gave it to them or Clive in the English one. The reason this was such a great gig was because there was really no work involved. We would show up maybe two hours before we taped we’d sort of go through a camera rehearsal so we knew what games we were playing for the night. So Drew would say OK we’re going to do greatest hits. So we would sit. Everybody would sit their position as center. That was it. Then they say OK stop and then we go back and so we never improvised. If we did improvise if there was a new game we would use suggestions we’d gotten from previous shows. And then it was just eating and waiting for the show to start. And then when we do the show and then we were done.

And as far as for Wayne and I the musical prep we would have a music rehearsal where Laura and the band would play us all the different types of genres that if they did Rolling Stones they were gonna play sort of a knock off and they let us hear it. And the producers would just give us a random suggestion that had nothing to do with what was going on that night. But just so that we could hear the cadence and the measure so that we would hear them and go oh they’re going to do sort of a knock off of jumping jack flash if we get rolling stones that night right. So we would in that musical rehearsal we would hear that we’d hear what their take on an REM song was this and that and we would hear and try like 20 styles and then three of them would be thrown at us that night during the show.

The singing guys were really underrated and everybody everybody thought it was rigged and there were times where I thought they probably then I thought no way I just give him the title. So no but to come up with you get the title you have to come up with rhymes you have to make it sound good and it has to be funny all split second. And these guys were the best I’d ever ever seen.

The Romantic Italian ballad pile driver.

When you show a girl that you love. Take her head and climb high above hold her still and that is that . Show her you love her when you met. Just go uhh. It’s a pile driver of love.

Miss Marilyn Monroe. And of course her great hit gallstones are a girl’s worst friend.

Now you must understand from your head to your brain. Oh in my side I’ve got an awful pain. Oh I shoot it out my rear end because gallstones are a girl’s worst friend. Understand I won’t be alone. I’m trying to pass a stone. Gallstones are a girl’s worst friend. Worst friend. Worst friend. Did I do that.

For me it was always a surprise. What that title was for me that was one of my favorite games. First of all because I got to sit down which was good. And it was just Ryan and I sort of bantering and goofing around and then passing it on to those guys and watching them do something incredible.

Hey Colin.

Yes Ryan.

What comes to mind when I say the word sting.

The guy who sang for the police. Hey. When he retires will he changed his name to stung.

You know I laughed at first but would he.

I don’t know.

What comes to mind when I say kielbasa and accordions.

Broccoli. And enough gas to light a small country.

Colin you’ve got five more years till you hit 65. In Canadian.

That’s right.

Nothing better than the sound of metal.

Oh you’re talking heavy metal.

I’m just talkin metal. I could be heavy could be light could be aluminum could be lead is lead a metal. I don’t know wuwuwuwuwuwuwu.

You just rapped there did you know that.

I told you I’m a child of the streets. Sometimes I just wonder why I talk to you.

Because if you didn’t you wouldn’t be talking to anyone.

That’s right I’d still get better answers.

So for me. The bantering part was the part I was mostly concentrating on and it’s like. And then I could see Drew is sort of looking at his watch and it’s like oh yeah song. So then it would be just toss and sometimes they were good titles and sometimes you would say something go oh oh that with that sucked.

As the person that had to do the song I know they always fall into one of three categories. If they were in the groove the song title would be a joke in and of itself which is kind of what they were always aspiring to do. That if song of a plumber plunger suck this you know I mean whatever they were going for. Right. That was their dream title. One that was funny and in the point.

We used to listen to the 70s funk hit. Check under the hood.

One of my favorite Dixieland racing car songs is axle grease rag.

That big lambada hit two laps to go.

One of my 80s rock n roll favorites has to be my gown has no back.

That mambo hit. This is going to hurt a little.

Simply titled.

And then sometimes if they were just sort of blathering on then they would kind of do it Fletch style. Who could forget that wonderful title honey the toilets clogged and I don’t have anything but your earrings. Great thanks for truncating it down into a little thing.

It’s a doo-wop hit and its title is.

Oh the anticipation is incredible. I bet it’s going to be so hilarious.

Have I told you how much I love working with you.

Mr. Mochrie and Mr. Sherwood do their best to resist tailoring their material to where they’re performing.

Choosing instead to follow the idea that funny is funny everywhere.

If a reference of where I’m at pops into mind that feels germane to whatever we’re doing at that moment I’ll throw it out but I don’t. Walking with a satchel full of care my English jokes here are my Alabama jokes. I never do that. You know at most we’ll be doing something and like something stupid goes bad and then you’ll say Well you very rarely see that in Alabama and that gets a local joke out of them and it has nothing to do with Alabama. You know it’s like if you make a local reference just for the sake of making it to the local people they’re going to laugh but that joke would’ve also worked if you said it in Minnesota you know

We just had we had five shows in India.

Last summer.

Big yeah big Whose Line fans and bizarre. And we were a little worried about it. We thought you know they are one of the largest English speaking countries in the world just by the fact that there’s a billion people but we also thought well it’s a totally different culture will they get our stuff. The first suggestion we got fart so we thought were good.

We looked at each other like we’re home. No problem.

So we never change anything. We just did. You know we don’t do political we don’t do we just do goofy and I think goofy is universal.

We do goofy situational character occupation type things as opposed to oh let’s do Britney Spears blah blah blah Lindsay Lohan reference or George Bush slam. We don’t do any of that stuff.

It’s probably a good thing because they told us after which I think they should have told us before and they said you know oh by the way don’t say anything bad or funny about Gandhi or they’ll kill you. Well that would have been good before the show.

Just a little Xerox sheet right before.

Performers are taught to listen to their co-stars. Acting is.

Reacting. See I listen. And when you don’t have a script it’s crucial that your costars keep the scene from crashing.

And burning in improv. You need more than a co-star. You need a.

Dance partner who can finish your.

Sandwich. Thoughts.

That’s better.

I think you just need to sort of develop your improv skills like a martial art. You kind of use the other person’s energy against them so if they’re all over the place. You can use that to make yourself look good because you are the counterpoint to that. I think the auditioners will see that you’re adapting and that person may be all over the place and yelling and screaming and saying too much and then you just stand there and sort of the outside cool observer who just says one thing at the end of that like oh someone needs a Ritalin you know and you get a huge laugh and that guy was really trying. And the guys that are casting look at you and go okay that guy stayed in the moment stayed out of that guys way didn’t jump in and go. Me me me me me and then got a great laugh because he was listening and present.

I mean improv is such an ensemble art form you have to work together. And there is I hate to use the word competition because it has a negative connotation. It’s not even going for the bigger laugh or he gets a bigger laugh. It’s like being the best it’s going well I’ll set him up for this one he better get it because I know exactly where I would go if I was doing it. And you’re ultimately you want the scene to be the best scene it can be. And that means having to work together. But you know you do like to get your laugh on your lines. You do. When you come up with a great line you feel like. I’m always amazed that actually it worked out. And everybody when we were doing our scenes we all had our different functions in a scene. You know Greg would often be the kind of the smart assy as did you a time I was usually the woman or something.

The scene is Ryan arrives at his ski lodge a day early to discover his wife Colin in the arms of amorous ski instructor Wayne.

Ryan is Rhett Butler Colin is Scarlett O’Hara. You know that’s how it goes in the relationship.

Ryan is Noah and Collin is.

His wife.

Mrs. Noah yeah. Colin knows his role in every scene.

The beauty of improv is there would be you know you think oh I’ll do this and then I would think oh this is the character I’ve just come up with. It doesn’t seem to be working but I would have to stay with it because then it became my challenge was to make the audience like me as this character. So I would try to just stick with it and work within what. You know these guys were giving me what the scene was and it usually worked out.

I also think there’s a certain level of commitment your brain is also constantly going down a path with four or five forks and if you start to go out and that’s not where you instantly back up and go down something that might work as funny you know you’re constantly taking the pulse of the laughter of the audience and you’re not going to just completely barrel through ahead on something that you that you know is not working and you know as you get to become a good improviser I think you learn the tricks to instantly make a u turn or commented on yourself. Sort of the comedy equivalent. Well that didn’t work you know then that gets a laugh and then you go off in some other direction. I never feel competition at any of our live shows Vegas shows whatever. The only competition I felt on whose line was with myself. I had to be as good as I possibly could be or I might not get another season like that was the only competition I ever carried into the actual show was sing for your supper sing for your supper sing for your supper.

I think for me the only time I am nervous where the fear creeps in is like five minutes before the show when you know I’m backstage thinking OK I’ll we have all these people who want to see a show and we don’t have one. It really depends on what they give us. It depends on how on we are. And then once you’re out there it’s just giving yourself over and living in the moment and doing all the things you don’t do in life it’s you know you’re listening to your partner you’re taking their ideas and you’re building on them you’re accepting. It’s like a happy place. So there and there’s really no time for fear because you’re just constantly think you’re bombarded with so many things not only from yourself but from the person you’re working with and the audience that there’s no chance to enjoy the fear. I think fear creeps in. If you don’t do it for a while there are many great improvisers who I worked with the Second City the cast of SC TV who won’t improvise now because they’re.

You see them at the Gilda’s Club charity events in Toronto and they come up to us and they’re like oh I don’t know how you guys do this anymore. I could never do and I’m like you’re one of my idols from SC TV you know Joe Flaherty is looking at us like how do you guys do that. I’m like I do this with my eyebrow because of you Joe. You know it’s just like that.

It really is a muscle that gets flabby really quickly. If you don’t you don’t work it it dies.

To get complimented by SC TV’s Joe Flaherty.

Aka the dad from Freaks and Geeks.

I had a friend that used to smoke. You know what he’s doing now. He’s dead.

Is like being blessed by the pope of comedy.

And the more Mr. Mochrie and Sherwood performed the more their fanbase and their reputation grew.

Even if each show was a new adventure they only get better every time.

Every time you do something funny you sort of learn a new way and especially since we’re improvising we’re consciously pushing ourselves into the unknown of finding new ways and we like to challenge ourselves and we never improvise better than when we do something in our show like get a really hard suggestion or change a game up so that it’s we haven’t played it that way before when we step into the darkness. That’s when we come back after the show and feel like we didn’t get anywhere near any vibe that we did in a previous show and we were scared and when we improvised scared together. It opens up just that other extra notch of creativity as an improviser.

The last two months I think we’ve probably been as funny as we’ve ever been.

And this is the eight years of trial and error changing games getting better.

Every game we came up with ways of making every game so that we were off balance and not comfortable and we find that’s when we work best when we don’t feel when we don’t have a comfort zone. I don’t suggest that for everyone but really it works for us.

And that’s about that’s about changing a game so that it has a couple of different angles and it’s also about constantly changing the ask for s that you get from the audience because if you ask for something a certain way. After about 10 or 15 times you’ll start to get the same three things so we constantly shake it up so that we don’t never fall in that groove.

One unexpected reason they’re able to keep their improv performances so fresh is basically amnesia.

They admit that each show feels like the first time since they pretty much forget what they did last time.

Sort of the beauty and the curse of the show is once it’s done it’s done. It’s sort of gone. It’s only because you know I flip through the channels and I see a whose line and don’t remember anything and yet I’m doing it so I obviously was involved but it’s just. The only one I remember semi clearly is the Richard Simmons one.

Called living scenery. This is for Ryan Collin and Wayne. And Richard Simmons everybody Richard Simmons.

And that was only because of the audience reaction because it. Stopped the show.

Ryan and Colin are going to act out a scene and during the scene they have to use a number of props however since they don’t have any real props to work tonight.

I’ll be the props. I’ll be all the props for these men.

I don’t actually remember the improvising or what I did but I remember that moment of just seeing people jumping up and down in the audience. And going. This is cool but I don’t remember any of that scene.

I never remember anything that happened after a taping. I just remember whether I feel good and thought oh that was a good show. We got lots of laughs and then if I stumble across an episode of Whose Line. And I see that I’m on it and I start watching it. I don’t even have any recollection of what I said because I was in the moment during that thing. There were no scripted lines so I have no expectation of what I said at that moment because if I was put in that scene now again I would have different responses so I can’t memorize every little. Just like you can’t remember every conversation you’ve ever had in your life. That’s kind of the way it is with with doing improv because it’s stream of consciousness flowing out of your brain free thinking like you live every moment of your day. It wasn’t preplanned recorded and rehearsed repetitively beforehand. So I watch the show as much like a person who’s never seen it before. I find myself holding my breath and then relieved when I did something funny. Oh good it worked. Yeah. Good for him yeah. He made them laugh.

Mostly I mean most of the great memories are just from working on the show and it was a great group of people and for me it was bizarre to be part of that of the ABC machine because I’d never had that. And all of a sudden we were going to these big parties with people I’ve watched on television and people I’ve seen in movies who I really admired and they were coming up and talking to me. It was really surreal. We were in Pasadena and they have this thing called the upfronts where all the shows come together and there was a party that night. And I was with my wife and we’re walking down the stairs and all of a sudden surrounded by photographers who pushed my wife out of the way and Kim Delaney who was in NYPD Blue at that time was pushed with me. And all these pictures were being snapped. And I turned around I said well I guess we’re going out now and I’ve never seen such fear in a woman’s face before. It was like Oh wow. And it was it was just bizarre. There were moments like that all the time where we went to a Disney Adventure.

California Adventure when it first opened they had a couple days of sneak previews.

And you get there and they say OK you’re going down the red carpet your wrangler is goofy and goofy comes out for the whole night you’re with goofy who can’t talk to you when he’s in the thing. So he has to use sign language to tell you where to go and. You’re just standing there going. This is not a real life. This is. Insane. So yeah those are the memories I have walking the red carpet with Goofy.

This ever evolving comedic work sometimes results in the performers breaking character which they don’t mind at all.

In fact. They welcome it.

We live for those moments. We wait for those. I mean those are the best moments in the world. I mean I think part of the reason I wanted to. Do comedy was when I was a kid. I watched the Carol Burnett Show and Tim Conway and Harvey Korman would do sketches on this show and it was Tim Conway’s mission to make Harvey Korman bust up at least once a show and he said so he would just relentlessly pick at him with his little character till he started to laugh and then when he started to break he would just keep hitting at him and that is my favorite childhood memory of watching TV comedy. And so I lived for those I we don’t do it very often but every once in a while if one of us busts and starts giggling it’s like my favorite thing in the world and I’m usually the one that busts first.

Yeah I don’t find anyone I work with funny. So that makes it a lot easier. It’s also I mean you know we’re in sort of the same state as the audience. Everything is a surprise to us so there are some times where we. Break on whose line it was always like I’d been giving a medal of honor when I made someone on that show break up just because they’re all jaded and have seen everything. So there was always that moment. So when that happened that made my resolve even harder not to breakup and to see if I could make them look worse. Which you’re not really supposed to do.

It’s the killer instinct. No but make worse in that when someone’s laughing on stage it’s all gold for the camera like that is free. Awesome moments for the audience and everyone watching so.

And there were some times where I broke up Ryan that really had nothing to do with what I just said. There was one where I said Tapioca and he lost it. He just lost it.

Hey Colin what comes to mind when I say Ricky Ricardo and great cigars.

Oh tapioca.

Really. Why’s that.

Wasn’t that his big song. Tapioca. Tapioca.

No Colin I’m talking about. I’m talking about Cuba Colin.

Cuba. It’s a small island.

It is. Why don’t you tell the people about it

Afterwards. I said why did you laugh when I said Tapioca he said you sounded like Colonel Klink. So it was really I don’t know what my point was there but I tried. There are some times. There were a couple of times we did a scene called The Cat and that was because it was a mission impossible.

Gentlemen today’s mission is of the greatest importance.

And we’d gotten into a little trouble in the beginning and I find when that happens you’re a little on edge and you’re almost got the giggles anyway yeah it’s punchy. And then it started just to build from there.

We’re going to need some. Detergent.

Detergent. Detergent. The cat .

It’s taking too long. The cat. No that’s no good.

Fabric softener.

Well you can’t have static cling. The bernuse will stick to his thing. The cat.

It fell in the water again. Wait a minute the cat.

The cat’s wet now.

And luckily Ryan started breaking and that sort of calmed me down.

The sneckerfark of Imar will be here.

We’ve got to dry.

The cat.

The cat. Stop it with the cat.

So I used him as my I guess scapegoat I guess so yeah I find I just try to concentrate harder. Sometimes it works. You can get. You can certainly get away with it in comedy more than you can in drama. I’m just saying from personal experience when you’re laughing and Hamlet’s dead. It’s hard to come back from that.

To me. I don’t find anything terribly embarrassing because like one episode of Whose Line I went to sit back in my chair up in the back and they were really close to the back of the stage. And I fell off the back stage. I’m not but that got a huge laugh from the audience so that’s not embarrassing to me. That’s just another laugh. You know that as a comedic person that’s just like oh that one was free I didn’t have to work at that.

Doing that show doing the show embarrassment and shame were kind of left backstage and it’s not till after when you’re watching something and go wow. Well I used Richard Simmons as a jet ski to fellate me. That’s odd.

Our shame gland has pretty much atrophied. So like what is embarrassing to us when we’re willing to get up as adults on national television pretend to be monkeys and fling poo at each other. There’s not a whole lot that can happen. Even if we sneeze in an actual booger came like that kind of thing might be the most embarrassing. You know. But.

If it gets a laugh.

There’s very few things. I mean our life is about kind of making an embarrassing scenario into something funny.

Their work in improv attracted a number of legendary comics to guest star.

Including another one of their heroes and a master of improv himself. Robin Williams.

Let’s go on to a game called scenes from a hat. What Robin Williams is thinking right now.

I have a career. What the hell am I doing.

As great as Robin Williams was even he found keeping up with the performers a very tall order.

I didn’t actually perform in that show but we played with him a bunch times live down in Santa Monica on Herald nights at the upfront theatre and I got to play with him. And it’s the thrill and joy of working with him regardless of you know he again he’s coming into a team that’s all been playing together. You know so there’s a comfort level and to his credit what he did he was an improvising monologist. So he did years decades of working by himself. And you know free associating and all the voices and characters were just in his head. So you know it’s kind of like the world maybe the world’s greatest tennis player that doesn’t know how to play doubles you know. So it’s almost a completely different artform.

And he totally raised. I think everybody’s game he had so much energy that we went oh jeez we have to match this at least. So we were after I had never been so exhausted after a taping just because he gives a hundred and fifty percent. So you have to give at least that to sort of keep up so everyone had their A game on that night because of him because it was like we don’t want to be left behind. Also we want to make sure he has a good time and we get some good improv out of it. So he really did raise raise the bar for us.

The comedic duo might not get easily fazed onstage but offstage Mr. Mochrie and Mr. Sherwood are far from the extroverts they might appear to be.

So the guys behind.

Ah ah. At ease at ease.

Are actually shy. Now that’s surprising.

I think we’re both pretty shy in our real lives. And I think my my shyness sort of exponentially grew the more I had an outlet for the performing. I think when I was in school and a kid I was far more out going and extroverted trying to make people laugh all the time. And then as I grew up and sort of had you know a place to do it on stage then I became more shy.

I was always painfully shy and it wasn’t till. A friend of mine dared me to go out for the school play. And I got my first laugh and it was like. The play was the death and life of sneaky Fitch a musical Western. No nobody would ever remember. But it really wasn’t until the success of whose line that I basically had to just because we were having interviews and meeting so many people had to sort of figure out a way of getting over that. I mean this is my worst thing right now. It’s horrible.

He could be in front of five thousand seat house making it up and making laughs and he’s more comfortable than he is just in a intimate setting like this having to talk. I’m more uncomfortable at a dinner with people I don’t know. Like a four top at dinner than I am in front of 10,000 people.

He doesn’t use cutlery.

I’m more in my element when I am bungee jumping intellectually out of an airplane and trying to make people laugh.

We’re more in control on on stage you know we’re with people we want to be with and who we trust and we know it usually works out in the end and life doesn’t give that guarantee. When my wife watches whose line she calls that guy the other because it’s nothing like me. It’s you know in gatherings with friends of course you know I’m a little more open but I don’t have to be on and when I’m with people I don’t know I tend to be quiet which is why I disappoint so many people when they meet me.

I am the only person in the world that gets to see the two sides of Colin because your wife really does see that. I mean I get to see the lunatic because we’re on stage and the audience gets to see that they don’t get to see the shy.

The real me.

I mean he’s like. He’s like he’s like Chauncey Gardiner and being there. He’s like that shy.

Good reference. Thanks.

The introspective improv superstars reminded our students that one’s career and life is not just about the destination but about the journey.

What advice would you give yourselves now when you’re in acting school.

Oh that’s an excellent question.

And that’s a good that’s good. Any more good questions. I would tell myself not to stop living at the expense of. What I wanted to do. I I was going to say I loved theater school but yes I loved parts of it. There are parts that were hell and then there was a part where it was your life. Those were the only people you saw you were working like 12 hours a day putting up productions doing things. And I always have trouble with people who make acting their lifestyle rather than their job. It’s a great job and I love doing it. I love it because you have so many different experiences you can know one day you’re a pirate next day you’re snack fairy you can be anything. You also have to also keep in contact with the outside world and meet see real people because when you meet actors and actresses they don’t always react in real ways. I mean everything is like really dramatic or not dramatic. But I’ve always tried just to get outside and you know we don’t have an entourage when we go on tour. It’s us and some other guy and we get no respect. We have we we wanted to write a coffee table book called. You’re not the f**king Rolling Stones because that’s what someone said to us when we basically when we go somewhere all we want are microphones and two wooden stools. That’s it.

And if we’ve come straight from an airplane like just a deli platter with like slices of bread and ham and cheese you know not asking for Cristal. And.

So I don’t even know if I answered the question but.

Don’t make it only your life like.

Yeah don’t make always be open to everything because when you just focus on one thing you lose so many other things that can be important to the one thing you’re focusing on.

And I think my sort of advice would be attached to that is do this with a 100 percent committed but only do it as long as it’s truly enriching you and nourishing your life because no matter what it is whether you want to be the world’s best barista actor painter or whatever. If that pursuit is making you more miserable than it’s making you feel like you’re alive like if you can handle the defeats and the rejection and enjoy the journey no matter how many times you get knocked down. Awesome. And if while you’re waiting to become a movie star or a TV star you enrich yourself and are fulfilled by doing local theater or production or just your fulfilled by going out and hitting commercial auditions because at least you’re getting to perform or playing with an improv group or whatever as long as it’s nourishing you if your entire happiness is predicated on the day you get that job that big network TV series and you’re not going to really be happy till then. Then you’ve placed all of the happiness of your life on the destination and not on the journey. And it is such a rip off to your life and you’d be better off becoming an accountant like you really would. You’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of sticking the carrot in front of you and you’re just always chasing it. The odds of you getting it are so intensely against you that if you don’t literally enjoy the journey there you know make the journey of being an actor as exciting. Through all the failures you know a rough kayak ride enjoy the fact that are going to get knocked against the rocks dumped out of your boat and get back and you’re going to be freezing and you have to tent on the side and wait it out and all of that because that’s what being an actor is. It’s lots of failure and challenge and you have to not let that failure make you miserable because I just know I had known so many of my contemporaries that did not make it but are still pursuing it and it’s just like they are 50 year old guys still going on auditions to be like the action hero cop whatever their agent can get them in on and I’m like you’re only going to be doing commercials from now on. You may if you’re lucky get the the sidekick quirky guy on the network sitcom but they’re always going to try and cast someone who’s been doing that for years before they cast you. Jason Alexander is going to get the call and then when he says no this other guy is going to get it and Joel Murray’s going to get it and so on down the line before you even have a chance. So the hierarchy as you get up in age it’s always going to be a popularity contest.


So I’m saying that when you’re young when you’re young the air of discovery is always alive and happens and the older you get the air of discovery and the window of that happening unless you get cast as a great character part in an independent film that blows up and then people start calling for you and then you have a renaissance in your career. So I’m just saying savor that journey. You know if you were in music you have to enjoy making the albums and touring and all that and the photo shoots as much as you love just singing in the shower. Otherwise you’re cheating yourself. You can look at anyone you can look at people that are super famous and rich that are miserable in any aspect of business. And they have cheated themselves and they’ve lost sight. And.

That’s why we’ve stayed at this level. The worst day you have as an actor will never be the worst day of your life. So remember that.

Pretty solid advice from two guys who can effortlessly craft entire scenes around the word fart.

We want to thank Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood for sharing how they excel as performers without a script. You might even be able to catch Colin and Brad’s live two-man show scared scriptless.

Try to say that five times fast and we want to thank all of you for listening. That’s Aeriel.

Segard and he’s Eric.

Conner and this episode was based on the Q&A moderated by Chris Devane to watch the full interview or to see our other Q&As check out our youtube channel at YouTube.com/NewYorkFilmAcademy.

This episode was written by Eric Conner. Edited and mixed by Kristian Hayden our creative director is David Andrew Nelson who also produced this episode with Kristian Hayden.

And me executive produced by Tova Laiter Jean Sherlock and Dan Mackler. Special thanks to our events department Sajja Johnson and the staff and crew who made this possible.

To learn more about our programs check us out at NYFA.edu. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen.

See you next time.


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