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"Whose Line" star Brad Sherwood deconstructs improv

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Brad Sherwood welcomes you to - Tool Time.
  • Brad Sherwood welcomes you to Tool Time.

If you've seen Brad Sherwood on any TV sketch-comedy program or sitcom, he likely needs no further introduction. The Indy recently caught up with the "Whose Line is it Anyway?" star in anticipation of his Colorado Springs visit. We also put him on the spot to generate a "Top 5" for us, based on one of our 7 Days picks. He sportingly completed the task in less than three minutes.

Indy: Outside of [comedy training center] Second City, how did you train for improv, and how do you prepare before shows?

Brad: Now that Colin [Mochrie] and I have been doing it for so long, we don't do anything before the show to prepare. We just play cards and hang out. But when you're getting started, you've got to take improv classes and get with a group.

The best experience is in the doing. Find a group and perform at a comedy club on a Sunday night, or at a coffeehouse or at theaters. Just go do it, and you'll get instincts for what makes people laugh by being in front of an audience.

Indy: Can you walk us through the mental process of taking the audience's starter material and making it funny?

Brad: There's really no set way. You start interacting with the person you're on stage with, and together you look for a scene and search for what's funny. Sometimes you create a conflict or problem with someone.

Say someone yells out, "tire" and "circus" you might be fixing a tire on wagon that's holding the lions. It's such an instinctual thing that you're doing while on stage. It's hard to process how or why you do something.

Indy: How do you stay current on pop culture?

Brad: I watch the news. I watch TV, and read a lot of books. Generally, people that are improvisers are cultural sponges. They're attracted to knowing what's going on in the world, anyway. We try not to shoehorn current events into something, though. If something comes up and it's apropos, then you might make a comment. But it's not like stand-up, where you're watching the news and really trying to craft your entire act based on what is going on.

Indy: What's the worst ball-drop moment of your career? Do you have a save-move?

Brad: We don't have any special save-your-butt things we do. We don't really have ball-drop moments, because you're sort of in a constant state of dropping the ball when doing improv. Because none of it is planned, it's about making everything work. Even if someone makes a mistake on stage, it's about making that mistake be funny, and crafting whatever is going on into a funny moment.

In certain sense, it makes you fearless. I sometimes make the analogy that doing improv is the comedy version of doing a martial art. You've practiced it. You have reflexive, instinctive moves. But when you're actually using it in combat, you don't know what's going to be happening you just react and use your instincts.

Matthew Schniper

CAPSULE

An Evening with Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood from "Whose Line is it

Anyway?"

Pikes Peak Center

190 S. Cascade Ave.

Friday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $36.50-$49.50; call 576-2626 or visit

ticketswest.com.

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