Colin Mochrie

Though we Chicagoans still like to think of improv as our baby–born and raised here and still living close enough to mother Second City to visit on weekends–the form is really an international phenomenon now. And this expansion is likely to accelerate as shows like ABC’s version of the BBC hit series Whose Line Is It Anyway? bring Viola Spolin’s improv games into every living room in North America. Improv purists are shocked, of course, by how far short the show’s larf-a-minute aesthetic falls from the form’s previous high ideals, but Whose Line Is It Anway? is popular–and remarkably spontaneous for TV despite being prerecorded and censored. Recognizing the show’s importance to the future of improv, the second annual Chicago Improv Festival has invited Whose Line regular Colin Mochrie to perform with Toronto troupe the Devil’s Advocates on opening night of the six-day fest; regular viewers will recognize Mochrie as the much put-upon butt of a thousand balding jokes. The Canadian-born Mochrie–who discovered improv in college in Vancouver, watching a TheatreSports demonstration–himself exemplifies how far improv has come from the days when you had to study with Spolin, or someone who studied with her, to learn the games. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 773-782-4720. Tuesday, April 6, 8 PM. $15.

–Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.