Talk shows and improv comedy collide in “Trust Us With Your Life,” an unconventional ABC summer series premiering Tuesday, July 10.
In each episode, host Fred Willard interviews a celebrity about his life and, at intervals, turns to the show’s group of improv comics to act out the moment the star has just described.
“Fred turns to us and, with some sort of game element to it, has us improvise on what we have just heard – and it can get really interesting,” explains Colin Mochrie, the Scottish-Canadian comic and actor who appears in each episode along with Wayne Brady and Jonathan Mangum as well as some guest performers. “Jerry Springer started off talking about his grandparents who, I believe, were lost in the Holocaust. That’s not really sidesplitting improv info, but it definitely kept it interesting for us.”
Other celebrity guests include Ricky Gervais, Florence Henderson, David Hasselhoff, Jack and Kelly Osbourne, and Jane Seymour, but Mochrie said two guests who are not especially associated with comedy gave the improvisers some of the richest material with their stories.
“They all had golden bits that gave us something to play with, but I would say that Mark Cuban and Serena Williams were the two where it seemed that every story they told had a little nugget we could exploit,” Mochrie says. “It’s weird, isn’t it, but those were two of the strongest shows. They also have such great personalities and are so relaxed in front of the camera and seemed to be having fun telling their stories. It became contagious.”
Different improv formats are incorporated into the series, ranging from the fast-forward/rewind (where the comics duplicate the effect of watching a DVD scene) to a surreal game called “sideways.”
“That’s a scene where the actors perform on their sides. I know, it sounds odd,” Mochrie says with a chuckle. “There’s a camera on the ceiling looking down at the floor, and we’re all on our sides, making it look as if we are standing up. It’s a weird optical illusion screwing-with-your-mind kind of thing. We did quite a few of those during the tapings.”