Use Caution When a Bear Approaches You in the Woods

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As one of the stars of the recently completed comic trilogy, Bear City 3, Stephen Guarino says that while he’s had more cushy assignments, finishing this series was a labor of love.

“Starting out,” the actor says, “it was a traditional audition. I had only read the script – probably on my way over in the car — but it’s surprised me again and again, and what started out as a sweet little valentine to the bear community ultimately became so much more.”

Fans know Guarino from I’m Dying Up Here on Showtime and ABC’s Happy Endings, but better still from the short-lived and much-missed Logo series The Big Gay Sketch Show.

Looking back on the series now, he says, “If I had known what I had, I’d have been more grateful at the time. We were all very competitive, and nothing of its kind has come around since. The Big Gay Sketch Show had an all-gay cast, we were on a gay network. We were ahead of our time, and now people often don’t even watch a whole show. We were pre-streaming, pre-internet. Now you just watch the good clips.”

Like many ensemble casts, including Second City, Kids in the Hall and the Groundlings, The Big Gay Sketch Show proved a popular feeding ground for talent scouts from Saturday Night Live, and from their ranks the SNL producers plucked the effervescent Kate McKinnon.

Guarino well understands that the ingredients to stardom include not only talent, but timing and simple luck. “You know that saying,” he chuckles, “‘doing better than most but not better than some?’ I now jokingly say, ‘doing better than most, but not better than Kate.'”

Guarino also auditioned for SNL and calls it “an amazing experience. I was crushed I didn’t get it, but I comfort myself knowing that it was a bigger dream for others than me. Besides,” he muses, “I was surrounded by incredible performers who also didn’t get it, so what can I do? There’s no rhyme or reason sometimes why someone does or does not get in. Since Kate did, she has performed wonderfully, and I hope we remain peers. In meantime, I am looking forward to whatever my next big milestone is. Maybe it is an urban legend that you can’t audition twice, so who knows.”

For the moment, Guarino is basking the bear hugs he’s been collecting from his work in Bear City 3. Since all three films were made on a shoestring, says the actor, “it was really the least glamorous in terms of housing and transportation and all the little perks you get with a big production. But it was also the most rewarding and the most fun. I’ve been around the world three times with these movies and been to screenings on cruise ships as well as Rio, Berlin and London. And it turns out that the things I’ve been paid most for have often been the least rewarding.”

Interested in a copy of Bear City 3? Head over to Bearcity.com.

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Last modified: August 4, 2017

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