Doug Morency and Jack Mosshammer in a Two Man Harold as part of howl at the Second City (56 Blue Jays), Friday (September 7) at 9:45 pm. Free. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNNNN
jack mosshammer is afraid thatimprov is becoming what stand-up was in the late 80s."Remember those comics with rolled-up dress jacket sleeves standing in front of a red brick wall?" he asks rhetorically.
"Improv will have a look, too. You'll see it on TV. You'll be flipping the channels and see a guy with, say, a chair on his head, and think, "Oh no, more bad improv.'"
Not to worry. We're not there yet. Especially while edgy improv artists like Mosshammer and Doug Morency continue to show amateurs what it's all about.
Outside the Second City building, the two mug for a series of photos. Morency holds Mosshammer, who's probably twice his weight, in his arms. The two lurk behind trucks. Get down and dirty in a construction site. All the while adhering to basic improv principles of keeping things focused and in the moment.
They're performing a rare Two Man Harold tomorrow (Friday, September 7) at the Second City's newly revamped late-night Howl set.
The Harold, originated by Del Close, is a full-night improv show kick-started by a suggestion from the audience. It's got three plot lines and lots of characters and is usually performed by a cast of six.
Doing the show with two is a challenge. It can get monotonous and confusing watching the same two guys in scene after scene.
Improv legends Colin Mochrie and Paul O'Sullivan were heralded for their two-man Harolds, and Mosshammer and Morency nailed one down a couple of years ago.
"Last time we ended up doing a lot of father/son scenes," laughs Morency. "This time we'll probably throw in a couple of monologues and a song or musical scene here and there, just to mix up the stage picture."
Mosshammer and Morency compare improv, when it's really working, to a great dance.
"What's important isn't the end, but all the moves before then," says Mosshammer. "It's all in the flows, the dips and the sweeps."
And, obviously, in finding the right partner.
The two met years ago, when Morency understudied Mosshammer in the SC touring cast. Then Mosshammer moved to the Mainstage and Morency took over in the touring show. The duo spent a year together on the Mainstage before Mosshammer left the troupe.
What's life like after the family-like comfort of Second City?
The two make mock weeping sounds.
"It still feels weird," says Morency, who left the show last season, after logging three classic years in the troupe. He just finished a run as part of the swing cast of The Drowsy Chaperone.
"Four-thirty comes and I still think I have to prep for the show."
"I get to have soup-and-candle nights now," says Mosshammer, "I stay at home, watch the sun go down, light some candles and eat soup by myself."
"Awww," says Morency, with mock pity.
"Fingering a shotgun," adds Mosshammer.
"Seriously," he continues. "Everyone says once you leave Second City there'll be lots of work. I thought I'd be working in a bookstore. But two days after I left I got a phone call and ended up getting a TV series -- YTV's Big Wolf On Campus -- that's now in its third season."
While the duo's improv gig will be a one-off -- Mosshammer's now based in L.A. -- they hope to help draw an audience to the Howl, long known as a place where comics like Dan Aykroyd and Val Bromfield tried out untested material.
Co-producer Sandra Battaglini wants it to become a destination where comedy, storytelling and theatre intersect.
Neither Morency nor Mosshammer will be giving up improv any time soon, no matter how popular it gets.
"It's fun when it's succeeding, and it's even fun when it's not," says Morency. "Audiences like seeing you struggle, and when you come up with something smart it's great. Even when things aren't working, they still like you. But, boy, when you're in trouble and you save yourself, they love you."
"It's like therapy," adds Mosshammer. "You can have the worst day in the world, then go onstage and play every one of the assholes who shot you down that day.
"Where else can you do that?"
These zany gals -- don't blame them for WTN's Go Girl! -- never met an accent or situation they couldn't parody.Sure, maybe the novelty's worn off slightly. But whether they're wearing their devil horns or not, Howell and Currie are still damned good.The host with the most is as fast on his feet as any of his guests.
The host with the most is as fast on his feet as any of his guests. Where to spot him: The monthly Neil Muscott's Comedy Debate, and look for a possible remount of Neil Muscott's Talk Show.