An improvisational comedy show is one in which the audience sees and participates in scenes that are totally unique.
"Improv is just a funnier version of what we do all day long in our lives. Every thought you have is an improvised thought," said comedian Brad Sherwood. "We are just good at making it funny."
Sherwood and fellow funnyman Colin Mochrie will perform their "Two Man Group" Sunday at Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick. The two have worked together for more than a decade on the live television show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" known for its tagline "the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter."
"Whose Line" began in the United Kingdom before being picked up by ABC in the United States. The show moved to The CW in 2013, and new shows are scheduled on that network for 2014. In the show, a host gives the comedians games to play, using audience suggestions, which are designed to test their improvisational skills.
"I like the musical games," Sherwood said. "You have to make the song sound good, make it rhyme and make the audience laugh. It's my favorite because it's the most challenging."
Sherwood said he didn't know he had a gift for musical impersonation until he tried it out on "Whose Line." Among the personae he takes on are Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Roger Daltrey and Willie Nelson. He said he enjoys playing games as Mick Jagger because he is the most fun to mimic.
Sherwood said the two-man stage show is very similar to the live television show. He and Mochrie invented some new games for the stage show, but it has the same energy and feel because it is live, he said. There is always a risk with the live, unscripted appearances because anything could happen.
"It's like we are magicians, hanging upside down in a straitjacket, suspended over a tank of piranha," said Sherwood. "It is our job to figure a way out of it and make them laugh while we are doing it."
Sherwood compared being on the road for the two-man show to the life of a gypsy performer. Because improv doesn't require much preparation time, other than the experience of actually doing improv for many years, Sherwood has quite a bit of downtime while he is on the road.
He said he uses the time to catch up on science fiction and action shows that he doesn't watch at home in deference to his wife.