The Bear Pack are improv extraordinaires not to be missed
Though the festival program this year is jam-packed with stand-up, The Bear Pack possess the kind of improv prowess that will leave anyone second-guessing a schedule of scripted shows full of over-rehearsed zingers.
Showcasing an expertise in long-form improvised 'yarns', Steen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie are a pair of gifted comedic alchemists, boasting the ability to create gold from any crazy tangent they dare follow. It appears as though they’re entirely unflappable, so seamless is their improv, with an idea or quip always at hand. Of course, Raskopoulos and Ritchie love to put one another on the spot, too. These moments cause a real edge-of-your-seat sense of anticipation to fill the room, with the expectation that some left-of-field accent or intricate mime may finally force an awkward beat.
Neither performer is ever entirely marooned by the other, though, such is their talent. This iron-sharpens-iron dynamic might just be the secret to The Bear Pack’s success. With each show, they’re more battle-hardened – or improv-hardened, rather – and can take on not only whatever springs to mind, but whatever they wish to throw at one another, too. Given they’ve been strutting their stuff since 2012, it’s little wonder they’re so great at what they do.
To discuss the specifics of a Bear Pack show in greater detail is a senseless endeavour as, after all, it’s improvisational comedy: Raskopoulos and Ritchie hit refresh on everything they’ve accomplished the night before to present a brand new madcap hour of off-the-cuff hilarity. The slate is wiped clean, with characters and situations erased forever. With reference to this specific performance, though, The Bear Pack put on an absolute masterclass in improvisational comedy. The pair were in full flight and the show was just a riot from start to finish. Though it will never be repeated, the hour in question was enjoyed as an example of an improv duo in sensational form.
Typically, there aren’t assurances or promises when it comes to improv comedy. It’s a genre that defies prediction, revolving around possibilities rather than probabilities. And yet, in a sense, The Bear Pack buck that trend – right now, with the pair arguably at the peak of their powers, it’s safe to predict they’ll put on one hell of a show.
By Nick Mason