There’s not much better than watching two masters of improvisational comedy performing live on stage. Fans of Sydney’s improv duo The Bear Pack obviously agree with me. The full-to-capacity audience gathered at Giant Dwarf to see Carlo Ritchie and Steen Raskopoulos tickle our funnybones at the 2017 Sydney Comedy Festival.
The award-winning duo have some serious comedy chops. The Plus Ones are already big fans of Ritchie’s solo comedy show. Cooking For No One garnered rave reviews from our comedy writers in both Melbourne and Sydney. Raskopoulos can be seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia and on the BBC.
For the first of two Bear Pack shows at the Sydney Comedy Festival, they performed an improv game they call ‘The Yarn’. It’s a long-form story that unfolds from audience suggestions. Neither the audience nor the improvisors know where the tale will lead – which means each show is 100% different. In other words: Attend every single one of the Bear Pack’s shows and never be bored.
Suggestions on the night I saw them were ‘maternity ward’ and ‘pickles’. From these two innocuous words, Ritchie and Raskopoulos formed a tale about a man waiting for his wife to have a baby, who is tricked by a Maternity Ward Sprite. (Possibly the first time that phrase has ever been written.) Along the way, he interacted with doctors, old men in a mining town, and heard how his wife had killed six guards to escape the Maternity Ward Sprite’s prison. If it all sounds over-the-top and rather absurd – you obviously haven’t gone to see enough improv.
The two comedians had the audience in the palms of their hands. With heightened usage of mannerisms + accents, each character they performed was distinct from all the others. (No small feat.) An ongoing gag where they tried to lure the other to perform a song was all the funnier since Ritchie’s the founder of the Redfern Shanty Club.
Finishing the show, they let the audience asked questions about bits of the plot – then performed snippets of how the characters ended up. I’d never seen this at an improv show before, and highly enjoyed it. Including the audience this way made us leave the show all the happier.
Go see the Bear Pack if you want your abs to get a workout from all the laughing. You might just turn into a groupie. I know I plan to catch them at (all of) their upcoming shows.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa used to watch improv comedy up to three times a week at uni. #obsessed
Check out our guide for the Sydney Comedy Festival for other shows to see.