Friday, Nov. 25, 2005 | 9:12 a.m.
As a rule, marine biology is not the route you take to become a comedian.
But Colin Mochrie, best known for his role in Drew Carey's improv TV series "Whose Line is it Anyway?", made the leap from the lab to the stage with relative ease.
"I was in high school and I wanted to be a marine biologist," Mochrie said recently during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto. "A friend dared me to try out for a play -- and I was hooked when I got my first laugh."
He was 16 at the time, and a self-proclaimed loner who was made shy by his parents' frequent moving.
Marine biology's loss is the comedy world's gain.
"It worked out best for both worlds," Mochrie said.
He and fellow "Whose Line" alumnus Brad Sherwood will perform their improv act at the Las Vegas Hilton Showroom at 9 tonight and Saturday.
The TV series ended four years ago, but Mochrie and Sherwood have continued the improv tradition on tour for the past three years.
"It's a pretty laid-back tour," Mochrie said.
He said fans will recognize several games from the TV show, including the one in which the actor is blindfolded and walks barefoot through a mass of mouse traps.
The 48-year-old actor/comedian was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland. When he was 7 the family moved to Canada.
"I was not the class clown," Mochrie said. "When I was growing up I never thought of becoming a comedian. I was very serious, a bookworm. I loved reading. And I loved old movies. Maybe that's where my interest in entertainment comes from."
After graduating from Vancouver's Killarney Secondary School in 1971, Mochrie attended Langara College's Studio 58 (a theater conservatory in Vancouver) for four years before joining the Vancouver Theatresports League, an improv theater.
"I picked up on improv fairly easily," Mochrie said. "It is natural for me."
In 1986 he moved to Toronto and joined The Second City, where he worked for three years and met his future wife, Debra McGrath, who was director of Second City's National Touring Company.
While with Second City, Mochrie co-wrote and starred in three productions and directed three seasons of the touring company..
He graduated from Second City to become a regular on the British Channel 4 hit improvisation series "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" for nine years.
When the series was picked up in the United States in 1998, Mochrie came with it.
After it ended he focused on touring and acting.
He says he and his Canadian-born wife and 15-year-old son, Luke, prefer living in Toronto.
"We feel more comfortable in Canada," he said. "Our families are here. We have a strong support group."
He says he doesn't see too much of Drew Carey these days.
"He's really into soccer now," Mochrie said. "He flies to soccer matches all over the world."
Jerry Fink can be reached at 259-4058 or at [email protected]