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Colin Mochrie Q+A: The Second City Guide to the (Toronto) Symphony

Colin Mochrie Q+A: The Second City Guide to the (Toronto) Symphony featured image

I’m a sucker for what I call “kind faces” – those folks who clearly have humour and compassion in their eyes, with expressive faces … and it’s the smiley quality I see first. Perhaps it’s why I’m a fan of Colin Mochrie – obviously he has cracked me up whenever I watched “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” hosted by Drew Carey (another one whose face reveals a whole lot of smiles). But it’s the kindness in his face that gets me. Back by popular demand, Colin is appearing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the first week of March along with The Second City (Toronto), with conductor Steven Reineke. I wanted to lob him a few questions about his background, his compassion, and his work with the Symphony.

You can pretend to be serious, but you can’t pretend to be funny. When did it hit you that you had a gift for cracking people up?
When I was younger, I was quite shy. I was not the class clown. I was amusing within my group of friends. It wasn’t till I tried out for the school play and got my first public laugh, that I realized that I may have something that would help me in the future.

Not to mention how much you’ve helped others with your humour! You were born in Scotland, lived in Canada, and the States. I’d love to hear your take on the differences in humour between the three countries.
The Scottish humour can tend to be very dark at times. American humour can be brash or observational. Canadian humour is ironic mixed with absurdity, parody and satire. All three have a fondness with the goofy humour. Thank God.

Whose Line Is It Anyway – your reflexes were insane on that show. In fact, everybody’s reflexes were on fire. And then Robin Williams guested on that show. Did you feel any pressure to up your game? Did it impact you or your work?
Having Robin Williams on the show upped everyone’s game. Just his energy alone raised everybody 100%. Watching how he work the crowd, how he respected the crew and how we treated us on the show as equals definitely impacted me. It was one of the highlights of my career to be able to work with him.

I love your compassionate take on transgender issues since your daughter, Kinley, transitioned. You once said, “If I can do something to help anyone who is perceived as different, then I’m always there.” First of all, thank you for saying those words of comfort – we all privately feel “different” in some way. Did this family adjustment affect your comedy or perspective on life in general?
Kinley‘s transition definitely affected my comedy. Looking back on old “Whose Lines” episodes, I cringe at the homophobic and transphobic stuff that we did. It was all based on ignorance and going for the easy laugh. That is something I certainly am more aware of now. It certainly showed me how lucky I have been in my life and made me aware how difficult it can be for some people to be their true selves without having to deal with ridicule, hate, and a lack of empathy from the other humans. We all just want to be the best version of ourselves that we can.

Most people wouldn’t put The Second City with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra together. Tell me about this gig, and what audiences can expect!
The show is as much fun for The Second City cast and the symphony as it is for the audience. The Second City gets to have fun with the “stuffiness” associated with the symphony – everything from the audience archetypes, to famous composers, to our suppositions as to who and what a symphony is. It is a great night out.

Photo: Bronwen Sharp

The Second City Guide to the Symphony plays on the following dates:
Tuesday, March 5 at 8 pm
Wednesday, March 6 at 2 pm & 8 pm
Thursday, March 7 at 8 pm
All at Roy Thomson Hall, on Simcoe Street at King.
[email protected] / 416 598 3375 / Toll Free: 1 855 593 7769
Tickets here.

See you at the Symphony!

#TSO

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