Perhaps most well known for his improv on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Colin Mochrie tries his hand at some writing a book by taking the improv game of “first line, last line” and using that as a prompt to write his own versions of some classic tales. Mochrie tackles the likes of Great Gatsby to Fahrenheit 451 to The Cat in the Hat.
Colin Mochrie is an incredibly talented comedian, having watched him on both the U.K. and U.S. version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?. His zany humour certainly translates in his writing as he tackles some very well-known stories. As with any improv sketch, it can easily run the risk of working or not and I felt that was the case with this book. Mochrie often utilizes the names of characters but completely invents a whole new story with only the first and last lines remaining the same.
A few of my favourite ones were some really clever tales told in verse. Mochrie’s versions of Casey at the Bat, Cat in the Hat and Twas the Night Before Christmas gave me quite the chuckle (even though I did realize that the first line/last line motif wasn’t used for Cat in the Hat for some reason). The stories inspired by The Tale of Two Cities and Frankenstein I also really enjoyed, but a couple others were truly so bizarre that I just couldn’t get into it.
I recognize that it isn’t easy writing a humour book when comedy is so subjective and the author doesn’t have the benefit of gauging audience reaction while they’re doing their act. In its essence, writing a novel is tough to categorize as “improv” when it goes through so many drafts and edits, but what Mochrie has done in Not QUITE the Classics is that he gives the readers a taste of how these stories might have played out in an improv set on the stage. Perhaps it’s with the help of his acting and improv experience but Mochrie is able to adapt his writing style and tone with each story that he’s retelling. An entertaining (and bizarre) read that will be sure to give you a good chuckle!