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Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group DVD Review

Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group DVD cover art -- click to buy the DVD from Amazon.com Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group
Concert & DVD Details

Running Time: 67 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Stars: Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood

Executive Producers: Mike Mills, Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, Rich Super, Erik Kritzer, Jeff Andrews / Supervising Producer/Director: Michael Drumm

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned or Subtitled
DVD Release Date: March 8, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $14.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

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Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood are best known from "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", having both appeared in many episodes of both incarnations of that long-running comedy series. Since 2002, the performers have intermittently toured North America as a two-man stage show.
A few years since the U.S. "Whose Line" finally signed off ABC, Mochrie and Sherwood team up in Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group, a filming of a January 2010 performance at The Pabst Theater in Milwaukee.

Improvisation is still the name of the game for balding Mochrie and tall brunette Sherwood. And it is a game, or rather a series of games, in which random audience members are selected to participate. The first has a middle-aged married couple puppeteering the two comedians through an accented conversation between neighbors. The second has a volunteer and mic-passing audience members supply sound effects for the white-water rafting pantomime that the two perform. Other exercises include answering audience questions with alternating word responses, giving funny voices for a couple to mouth along to in a "Jeopardy!" sketch, and interpreting an interview "for the hearing-impaired."

A couple puppeteers Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood as they play Belgian neighbors discussing chicken in the opening bit of "Colin & Brad: Two Man Group." As Brad questions a young mall cop from the audience, Colin interprets the interview for the hearing impaired.

At the start of the show, Mochrie and Sherwood emphasize that everything they're doing is spontaneous and unplanned. To a large degree, that appears to be true. Even if most of the variables they plug into their bits are not audibly suggested by the audience, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they really heard them. And there is no denying that Mochrie and Sherwood are quite talented at what they do, thinking on their feet and being able to crack or heighten a joke without advance notice.

Unfortunately, I just don't find them very funny. Impressive? Certainly. Imaginative? For the most part. But, as for the most essential quality of a comedy show, humorous? Not so much. Their act feels like a good parlor trick. It gets your attention and makes you wonder how they do it. But their best material is capitalizing on unforeseen moments. The comedy itself, on scenarios like duck hunting and mining, is clumsy and infantile.

Howling with laughter, the filmed audience would appear to disagree with my assessment. But how could they not? They've paid to see a show, been warmed (and quite possibly liquored) up, and have the invaluable benefit of being a part of the act. Even if they're not called on stage, someone a few rows in front of them is and can vouch that they aren't prepped audience plants. The whole participatory nature of the show encourages a vocal reaction. And in truth, it seems kind of fun, a broadly appealing public diversion that unites the crowd and sends them home talking and remembering outrageous moments. It's the type of thing that would be well worth stopping to see at some kind of fair. And it's safe to say that Mochrie and Sherwood are far more experienced and quick-witted than the average fair performer.

The highlight of "Two Man Group" finds Colin and Brad playing with our minds in this scene performed lying on their sides. Mouse traps swing and get stepped on in Colin and Brad's barefoot, blindfolded finale.

Still, their show just kind of falls flat on DVD, with the unpredictability and immediacy of the performance lost. The most entertaining bit finds Mochrie and Sherwood acting out a scene lying on their sides (an illusion surely better appreciated on video than in person) and the pleasure in that mostly stems from your brain trying to make sense of the "sideways" gravity.

The final two segments illustrate where the show fails me. In the first, the comedians improvise their way through a succession of stages, from a dizzying letter replacement activity to the double entendre of "if you know what I mean."
That same mix of boastfulness and unfunniness surfaces in the finale, in which the two try to make their way blindfolded and barefoot across a stage full of live mice traps while operatically bantering in alphabetical order. Sure, it takes practice, concentration, intellect, and bravery, but, like most things requiring those ingredients, it doesn't make you laugh.

One nice thing about the program is the variety. Most stand-up comedy acts consist of little more than an individual telling jokes for an extended period of time. If they're really good, you don't mind that design. While Mochrie and Sherwood aren't riotous to me, even the thinnest-stretched of their exercises only runs about ten minutes and then it's onto something else. The audience seems to know and appreciate the different components, but each is adequately explained and probably most enjoyed on your very first view of it.

Watch the clip "Sideways" from Colin & Brad: Two Man Group:

Two Man Group comes to DVD and digital download next week. As far as I can tell, it is not scheduled to air on television anytime soon.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Colin & Brad looks and sounds just dandy in Image Entertainment's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. The clean and sharp picture is marred only by the studio's signature aliasing issues. The soundtrack is loud but crisp, with audience laughter nicely distributed to the rear channels and the performers' speech even dispersed throughout the front speakers. One huge blow for the hearing impaired: neither closed captions nor subtitles are offered here. As if Mochrie's sign language gag wasn't insulting enough!

Sherwood and Mochrie explain how improv works. Or doesn't. The DVD's main menu doesn't always supply a clear view of the concert, but it does clearly indicate the degree of comedy found within.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Two bonus features are included here.

"Dos and Don'ts of Improv" (6:52) is a kind of amusing short in which the stars explain their preferred comedy medium and demonstrate (unsuccessfully) how they use it.

"Interview with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood" (5:41) consists mostly of Sherwood, assuming the affectations of "Inside the Actor's Studio" host James Lipton, questioning Mochrie in a pretentious fashion.

The main menu loops a few bits from the concert behind a still of the two performers.

Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood replace S's with K's, dabble in double entendre, and speak only in questions in their penultimate "Two Man Group" routine.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If you're a fan of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", you should definitely check out what two of its regular performers get up to in Colin & Brad: Two Man Group. If you're not a fan of that kind of interactive improvised comedy, then stay far away. While Mochrie and Sherwood have unmistakable skill in using their minds in unusual ways, that is no guarantee that you'll laugh much or at all at their gimmicky shtick.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed March 3, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Mills Presents, Michael Drumm Music Link Productions, and Image Entertainment.
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