Made up of Steen Raskopoulos (Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Barry Award Nominee 2015, National Theatresports Champion) and Carlo Ritchie (One Man Yarns), The Bear Pack is an outstanding comedy improv duo. Now there are a lot of things in life that I really enjoy and speak highly of, but The Bear Pack are on a level where I can’t even figure out praise high enough to worship them with.
I have been attending The Bear Pack’s performances since their debut show at The Giant Dwarf Theatre which happened on February 26th last year. I was taken there on a date and it was marvellous. After that, I went to almost every single show they performed, only missing a couple this year (which was super unfortunate and now that I’m leaving I am full of regret about).
This photo was taken during their first show at The Giant Dwarf. Before the Bear Pack performed, a few other improv comedians got up and played in a format called The Pitch which was developed by Steen. This photo was when the brilliant Pat Magee instructed us all to ‘lift up our dream spoons’. I remember the night so clearly! That’s me, right there at the beginning of the second row. I remember laughing and laughing this particular night. One of the best dates I’ve ever been on!
Growing up I did a lot of drama both at school and extracurricular and I absolutely loved improv and theatresports. However, the Sydney improv scene gave me a deeper love for it. I had no idea how many things were possible just because of improvisational talent! I began my Sydney improv education with the weekly Full Body Contact No Love Tennis shows at The Roxbury in Glebe. That was where I first had the privilege of watching both Steen and Carlo (and many of the other actors and comedians I now look up to and massively respect).
A quick lowdown of what to expect at a Bear Pack show: During the first half there is always some kind of show made up of other brilliant improvisers. Last night was an edition of the Improv Theatre Sydney Soap Opera which is an improv’d (and improved if you ask me) version of shows like The Bold and The Beautiful. It’s some very funny stuff! Last night’s fantastic cast was made up of Will Erimya, Jon Williams, Bridie Connell, Cale Bain, Tom Walker, Jack Scott and Jane Watt. There is then a quick interval.
The second half is the main event! Steen and Carlo start by asking the audience for a location suggestion – they’ve used a graveyard, a supermarket, an abattoir, etc. Last night was on Candy Mountain! Then they ask a question to which the answer will be an object – last night’s question: “What is something you buy in a bag?”, the chosen answer was a chicken. They usually choose the first answer they hear clearly. They then perform a 55-minute improv called a ‘yarn’ that takes place in the location that was suggested and somewhere within the 55 minutes they weave the suggested object into the story. These guys are pure genius! Focused, clever, and completely in sync with each other. They also always have a highly talented musician improv along with them. Last night’s musical accompanist was Heather Lloyd on strings.
I wish I had the eloquence to put together a paragraph that truly did this duo justice. But since I don’t and can’t imagine even trying, please, if you live in Sydney or if you’re ever passing through, do yourself a favour and look these guys up and see if they’ve got a show on. You will never be disappointed by them. In my humble opinion, a Bear Pack show is the #1 must do activity in Sydney (apparently also in the Sydney Morning Herald’s humble opinion!)
Tonight I attended what I thought would be my last Bear Pack show, but to my delight they have another show on in two weeks time, 10 days before I leave! It will be one of the things I miss most when I leave Sydney, and I hope that this reaches at least one new person who can enjoy them as much as I have! They are now so popular that people are turned away if they haven’t bought a ticket online – so please book in advance!
You can like their pages on Facebook to keep up with any new shows they may have happening!
Click on each name below for the link:
Again, I cannot stress enough how worth it these guys are. I just can’t recommend them enough.