What is improv, anyway? To Brad Sherwood, comedian and star of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” it’s just smart people pretending to be stupid.
Audiences will be able to see this for themselves 8 p.m. March 20 and 27 during Sherwood’s live comedy sketch show “STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS” with Colin Mochrie, presented virtually by the Bloomington Playwrights Project.
“In a normal day we’re just being total idiots,” Sherwood said.
Sherwood and Mochrie star together on “Whose Line” and have toured together for 19 years, Sherwood said. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, he said the duo had to move their live stage shows online.
Though Sherwood lives in Las Vegas and Mochrie in Canada, Sherwood said they’ve figured out how to use green screens and technology to make it seem like the two are in the same room. Sometimes that room even belongs to a member of the audience — they often use a screen grab from the Zoom feed of someone watching the show as their background, which means their show could be set in your living room, Sherwood said.
One of Sherwood’s favorite sketches is called the “Bumbledoodles,” which he said is like a cross between “Law and Order” and “Teletubbies.” During sketches like this one, Sherwood and Mochrie interact with audience members. But when they aren’t talking directly to viewers, Sherwood said they are completely on their own. Because of the virtual format, he and Mochrie can’t hear when the audience is laughing or not.
“We just pretend everything we say is killing,” Sherwood said.
The Bloomington Playwrights Project is the only professional theater in Indiana dedicated to producing new works, artistic director Chad Rabinovitz said. It develops scripts in their early stages that playwrights send in, and once the production is ready, the organization produces the first performance at the Ted Jones Playhouse on 9th Street.
Rabinovitz said the Playwrights Project started putting in virtual performances like the “STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS” show in October, which have attracted more than 8,000 total viewers.
“It’s just such a cool show,” Rabinovitz said. “With the TV show, you just passively watch, but here you’re a part of it. You’ll feel like they’re both in the same room with you.”
For fans of “Whose Line” like Playwrights Project Associate Artistic Director Paul Daily, the “STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS” performance is especially exciting. Daily said he used to watch “Whose Line” as a teenager with his parents and now watches it with his three sons.
His family is excited to watch the show and maybe even interact with Sherwood and Mochrie, Daily said. If given the opportunity to suggest their own ideas to the guys, Daily said his boys will probably offer up tigers or dinosaurs.
“The opportunity to see them is fantastic,” Daily said. “I’m really proud of being at a place where we’re bringing them in and allowing even more people to see them.”
Daily said the pandemic has been a blow to arts organizations over the world, making the upcoming show even more special.
Sherwood said he and Mochrie understand the healing powers of bringing comedy to people when they’re going through tough times, especially now during the pandemic. He remembers once when a fan told him after a live show how comforting their work was when their mother was going through chemotherapy.
“It’s zany and silly and goofy and provides a laugh that everybody so desperately needs in this confusing, dangerous time,” Sherwood said. “It’s nice to give people a chance to laugh.”
Tickets — which are expected to sell out fast as only 200 parties can join the Zoom call — are available for $35 per family on the Playwrights Project website.