Bruce Collective

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Three-man improv outfit The Bruce Collective have got some great ideas about incorporating technology into their spontaneous show, but unfortunately – in this performance at least – struggled to make the most of the scenarios their inventive preamble generates.

They’re not the first group to use computers in their improv – Amsterdam-based Boom Chicago are one of the slickest to do so – and one of the games the Collective play, dubbing new dialogue over old movies, is the exact-same setup as the Totally Looped show currently touring the UK.

But by employing the likes of Google and MySpace this youngish trio can turn audience suggestions into unexpected set-ups. So after being filtered through a search engine, the contribution ‘bees’ and ‘nuts’ prompts a sketch that’s nothing to do with a cross between the bees’ knees and the dog’s bollocks.

Drawing jokes out of the scenes proves too challenging, and too often the only laughs come from their desperate muddling through, rather than because they’ve said something particularly funny. As a stand-up, Jarred Christmas is particularly adept at pointing out when things aren’t quite going to plan – which is all part and parcel of improv, after all.

But when you only have the apologies and not the gags, the hour begins to flag, even when all three performers – Spontaneity Shop founder Chris Harvey John and New Zealander Simon Young being the other two – are confident and affable.

They do manage to think up a couple of strong gags amid their floundering, and occasional gratuitous callbacks to earlier scene gives them some breathing space in the shorter games; but it’s not enough to see them through the extended final project.

This is the most ambitious of the lot, where they use a green screen to conjure up several sci-fi backdrops for their B-movie script. Tonight’s epic – titled The Impossible Octopus thanks to the audience suggestion – gets too long-winded and convoluted, so while the illogical and labyrinthine plot is the joke, it wears thin over the 15 or 20 minutes of this long-form idea.

There’s some good ideas in the framework of this show, but the improv itself on tonight’s viewing just isn’t consistently sharp enough: which all the technology in the word can’t fix.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Leicester Comedy Festival, February 2009

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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