Barrel of laughs in Brantford
Colin Mochrie, pictured above, and Deb McGrath will headline the fourth annual Brantford Comedy Festival with a performance at the Sanderson Centre on Sept. 21.
Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath bring improv skills to fourth annual Brantford Comedy Festival
Colin Mochrie is challenging Brantford to bring its “A” game to this year’s Brantford Comedy Festival.
“Everything really depends on the audience,” the veteran comedian said. “So, if they want a great show, it’s up to them to start working and come up with good suggestions.”
Mochrie and his wife, Deb McGrath, will headline the fourth annual festival with a show at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Sept. 21. The pair will perform what they’re known for – improvisational comedy.
“We are four years in (to the Brantford Comedy Festival) and it’s pretty much all been standup, so to bring another style of comedy to the festival is exciting,” said festival organizer Jamie Stephens. “It’s kind of cool to see something different.”
With no script and no lines prepared, the show will revolve around audience members’ suggestions for games seen on Mochrie’s recurring hit series Whose Line is it Anyway?
Stephens had the chance to catch the show before he booked the duo for the festival. He said it was a riot.
“I laughed my ass off,” he said. “It was great.”
This year’s festival is bigger than ever, now featuring three nights of comedic entertainment.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, catch a screening of the Craig F. Watkins short film The Store, starring Anthony Mlekuz and Zak McDonald, followed by live comedy from the cast at the Brantford Station Gallery. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10.
On Friday, Sept. 20, catch the finale of the festival’s Rising Stars Competition at the Best Western Brant Park Inn beginning at 7 p.m. Over the past four weeks, 25 comedians have been battling for a spot in the finale during competition nights at Gus and Guidos.
The top nine performers will take the stage during Friday’s show, where one will be crowned the winner and earn a spot opening for Mochrie and McGrath at Saturday’s show. Tickets for the Friday event cost $15 per person.
In addition to Mochrie and McGrath, Saturday’s gala event will include sets from MC Gilson Lubin. The former MTV live host has made multiple appearances on Just for Laughs and Comedy Now and won best standup newcomer at the Canadian Comedy Awards.
Also set to perform is K Trevor Wilson, winner of the Toronto Comedy Brawl and Just for Laughs Home Grown competition.
Stephens said he also has three big announcements to make during Saturday’s show.
“The first is about a partnership we have formed and the other two are about bringing two very big shows to Brantford – one in November and one in March next year,” he said. “We are announcing both of those shows at the festival and everyone there will get first dibs on tickets.”
Then, there’s the main event – Mochrie and McGrath.
The pair have each been in comedy for more than 30 years, meeting while working together at Toronto’s Second City. They married more than 20 years ago and together have a son, Luke.
The Sanderson Centre show is an extension of their life together, Mochrie said.
“We have found that we work well together and we have been trying to do more of that lately,” he said. “It will be us talking about our life together, our life through improv.”
Mochrie got his start in comedy while at theatre school in Vancouver, where he stumbled across a group called Theatre Sports offering an improv demonstration.
“It intrigued me that these people got a couple suggestions from the audience and built these wonderful scenes from it,” he said. “I’m fairly lazy, so I didn’t have to prepare anything. You just go on stage with someone you really trust. You might not know where they are going, but you build on it.”
From there, he went on to find fame starring in the British and American incarnations of Whose Line is it Anyway?, also providing his improv skills on various Canadian comedy television shows, including This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
The beauty of improv, Mochrie said, is that even when you get stuck with nothing to add, you have a partner there to pick up the pieces.
And there’s no better partner than his wife.
“We really enjoy each other,” he said. “She’s a very funny woman and a great actress and I feel the more we get to work together now, the more fun it is.”
Tickets to see Mochrie and McGrath start at $35. Tickets to all Brantford Comedy Festival shows can be purchased at www.brantfordcomedy.com.