A comedic sense of community in ‘Scared Scriptless’

Mochrie and Sherwood’s set at Tom Tom revealed unique, quirky nature of Charlottesville residents


Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood performed at the Paramount Theater on Saturday as part of the Tom Tom  Festival. 

Ananya Suram | Cavalier Daily

Avid fans of improv comedy and viewers of The CW Television Network that stick around past 9 p.m. on Monday nights are likely familiar with the antics of Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles and a rotating fourth player on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” a revival of the 1990s comedy television show “where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.” Mochrie was accompanied by fellow comedian Brad Sherwood at the Paramount Theater on April 13 for the duo’s “Scared Scriptless” Tour, a headlining event at this year’s Tom Tom Festival. 

The two-hour long performance consisted of various games both from the television show and unique to the set, all in an effort to prove that the comedians truly do make up everything the audience sees on the spot. While the pair succeeded in proving their improv ability in the zaniest way possible, the real highlight of the show was learning about unsung comic minds living right here in Charlottesville.

The duo began the show by preparing the audience, who would go on to provide the comics with all of the suggestions in the remainder of the set. Questions like “What is your favorite color?” and “What is your astrological sign?” started the night, as Sherwood aptly noted that the latter always garnered a response of garbled noises ending with Aries, since the Sagittariuses always take too long. 

The pair then launched into a skit about Serbian tourists visiting Charlottesville and seeing Monticello — “It looks like the back of a nickel!” — for the first time. A high point in the night was during a sketch involving two plumber spies infiltrating the home of an archduke to fix the toilet, a matter of national urgency. Stuck outside the gate of the palace, Mochrie asked an audience member to identify the object lying on the ground that would help the comedians break in. Upon being informed that it was a condom, Mochrie announced that they would use the “Trojan Horse method” to get in, before unrolling the fictional contraceptive around Sherwood and himself. Bizarre suggestions like these revealed the wackier sides of seemingly ordinary individuals.

Still, some participants in the show were just plain crazy. In an instrument-less orchestra conducted by Mochrie, audience members were told to make a noise representing the emotion they were assigned when the conductor pointed at them. Naturally, one of the suggestions for an emotion was horny, sung by a man in perhaps his early 60s named Vinny. While an uncomfortable experience for the rest of the audience, Vinny surely had a good time grunting “ooh-ah” when directed. 

Alternatively, the audience learned a lot about dietician Jolene and her husband Sam when Sherwood and Mochrie were tasked with creating an impromptu Broadway number exploring the woman’s life. Of most importance was the pair’s invitation to Jolene to leave behind her spouse and join them instead.

The crowning moment of the night, however, was when Sherwood looked to the audience for a suggestion of the wackiest occupation any of their family members held. The comedian refused to believe that a Charlottesville man had an uncle who threw birds at airplane windshields to test their resilience — a role dubbed “chicken chucker” by the comic, since the relative didn’t know if it had an official title. If anyone entered the theater that night expecting to hear jokes about frozen poultry hitting a Boeing 737, they must be psychic.

Instances like these meant Mochrie and Sherwood were able to cultivate a sense of shared eccentricity among viewers, who delighted in a night of humor with touches of Charlottesville accessible only to themselves and their neighbors. The inside jokes about local sites such as the Rotunda and Thomas Jefferson’s legacy allowed the duo’s set to extend past a night of simple fun to unite individuals from all across the city through their love for Charlottesville.

related stories