Shortform: (usually on Fridays)
fun and fast-paced improvised theatre, filled with scenes, songs, games, and lots of audience participation and suggestions.


Read more about Improv »
Longform: (usually on Saturdays)
full-length, narrative, genre-driven, completely improvised stories based on audience suggestions.


Read more about Improv »

Frequently Asked Questions About BATS Improv Shows

Logistics: Showtimes, Tickets, Directions, Parking

Friday and Saturday Main Stage Company shows always start at 8 PM. Sunday student shows generally begin at 7 PM, but times can vary. Check the student shows schedule (at the bottom of the student shows page) for showtimes on specific dates.

Friday and Saturday Main Stage Company shows generally run from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes, including the 10-minute intermission. Sunday student shows run about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Because every show is completely improvised, the exact runtime of each show will vary.

Yes, we serve beer and wine (no drink minimum!) plus coffee, sodas, candy, cookies, and other tasty snacks. The BATS Café is open before the show and during intermission and is staffed by our friendly volunteers. All proceeds help support our nonprofit theatre company. Please note that we do not have a full bar and we do not offer full meals. We can, however, recommend some great restaurants nearby.

There is no reserved seating. All seating, including advance purchased tickets, is general admission. Our box office and the BATS Café open at 7:30, or 30 minutes prior to showtime on Sundays. We recommend arriving by 7:45 for your choice of seats. (Hint: the first and second rows have the most leg room!)

Have a group? We do offer reserved seating for groups of 10 or more. See Group Sales for details.

Although you don’t have to buy tickets in advance, we highly recommend it. Buying advance tickets is a great choice because it guarantees you a seat at the show and your ticket price is discounted from the door price. Our most popular shows — tournament semifinals and finals, holiday shows, and SF vs. LA shows — regularly sell out. We’re all about taking risks, but why risk missing a sold-out show?

Click here OR click the BUY TICKETS button at the top right of this page OR go to the show schedule, find the show you’re interested in, and click BUY TICKETS.

If you prefer to buy tickets at the door, the Bayfront Theater box office opens 30 minutes before show time (that means 7:30 PM for Friday and Saturday shows). Please note that the box office and BATS Café accept cash or check only (for now — we’re working on it).

Our official policy is that all sales are final and we do not offer refunds. However, if you buy tickets to a show and can’t attend, contact us at shows@improv.org, and we can usually make arrangements to exchange the unused tickets for another date.

Our official policy is that all sales are final and we do not offer refunds. However, if you buy tickets to a show and can’t use them (yeah, sometimes friends flake!), contact us at shows@improv.org and we can usually make arrangements to exchange the unused tickets for another date.

The Bayfront Theater box office opens at 7:30 PM for Friday and Saturday shows and 30 minutes before showtime on Sundays. Some shows do sell out — especially holiday shows, tournament finals, and SF vs. LA shows — so we recommend that you buy tickets in advance. That way you’ll be guaranteed a seat.

Please note that the BATS box office and BATS Café accept cash or check only (for now — we’re working on it).

Yes, Friday and Saturday show tickets for students (youth under 18 and college students with ID) and seniors (65 and older) are $17 at the door instead of $20. Note that there is one price for all online ticket sales: $17.

Yes! BATS Improv shows are great outings for groups, and we offer discount tickets for groups of 10 or more. Read further about group sales or contact shows@improv.org to make arrangements. For groups of 200 or more, contact us to create custom entertainment at your location.

Yes. You can buy a six-pack of tickets for any regular weekend show and save up to $30.

Please email shows@improv.org to make a reservation. Include your name and the number of tickets you will be purchasing with your gift certificate. Making a reservation guarantees you a seat even if the show sells out. On the night of the show, bring your gift certificate to the box office. Tickets with a reservation will be deducted from your gift certificate total at the advance price of $17 each.

Without a reservation, you can use your gift certificate just like cash. Please note that seating is on a space available basis and some shows do sell out. Tickets without a reservation will be deducted at the door price of $20 per ticket.

Use your free pass to make a reservation: Please email shows@improv.org to make a reservation. Please include your name and the number of passes you will be using. By emailing us to make a reservation, you’ll gaurantee your seat just as if you had purchased a ticket online, even if the show sells out!

Use your free pass at the door: Just show up at the door and you can use your free pass on a space available basis (that means we can’t accept your free pass at the door if the show has sold out).

Note that free passes are not redeemable at shows marked “no passes” (posted at the door and/or on the show webpage) or at special guest shows featuring non-BATS groups or players. Check the page of the show you want to attend. If it doesn’t say “no passes accepted” then you’re good to go!  

You can always grab a snack at the BATS Café before the show or during intermission, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area. Check out the list of nearby restaurants on the Map, Directions & Nearby page.

This map and directions should help you find us by car or public transportation. Because our theater is inside a historic army fort, there isn’t a formal street address. For GPS users, we recommend using the address of the Safeway directly across the street from the Fort Mason entrance: 16 Marina Blvd, San Francisco.

Yes – there is both paid and free parking. The Fort Mason Center parking lot — the one closest to the theater — is a pay lot. Depending on arrival time, we recommend parking for 2-3 hours, which is $6 Friday and $7 Saturday (a deal for parking in SF!) More details and parking rates. Note that the lot can fill up when there are multiple events going on (particularly during Friday night’s Off the Grid food truck events, which happen March to October every year).

For free parking, you can often park in the Marina Green lot, directly adjacent to Fort Mason. Be sure to read the signs for restrictions — the lot is reserved for Yacht Harbor permit holders during certain hours, although these generally do not conflict with show times.

Yes. There is a ramp at the south side (nearest the parking lot) of the west entrance to the building (the entrance with the BATS sign) and an elevator to get to the third floor. ADA-compliant bathrooms are located across the bridge in Building C. Please contact us at shows@improv.org to notify us of any special needs you may have so we may accommodate them.

The BATS Improv Experience

Simply put, improvised theatre is theatre that’s created on the spot without a script. The BATS style of improvised theatre is unique in the improv landscape — a one-of-a-kind blend of theatre, comedy, and acting that’s quite different from stand-up or sketch comedy. BATS style has been described as radical cooperation in action.

We produce improv shows in a variety of formats. Our shortform shows (usually on Fridays), like our signature competition Theatresports, are fast-paced, exciting, and highly interactive. If you like variety and lots of different stories in one night, our Friday shows are for you.

Our longform shows (usually on Saturdays) are full-length, narrative, genre-driven stories based on audience suggestions. The experience of going to a BATS longform show is like going to a play or movie — and because its improvised, it’s extremely engaging, if not downright hilarious.

Read more about improvised theatre, BATS style, and forms of improv.

Not if you don’t want to. Really.

Usually, we like to draw inspiration from our audiences by asking them for suggestions to start our scenes. Occasionally, we may ask for audience members to come up on stage to participate in a scene or game. When we do, it’s completely voluntary. We love our audience members, and we treat you the way we’d want to be treated. We’d never put you on the spot or drag you onstage.

Want to particiapte from your seat? Great! Every show has some element of audience suggestion, and we encourage you to shout it out!

BATS has welcomed theatregoers of all ages for more than 27 years. Older kids and teens really enjoy our shows, and occasionally we’ll perform a scene or game with them onstage (but only if they volunteer — see the previous question).

However, please keep in mind that our shows are completely improvised and that we have no idea what the content is going to be (although it’s important to note that we don’t go out of our way to be raunchy or explicit, or “work blue”). If our shows were rated, most would be “PG-13.” Ultimately, we can’t make any guarantees regarding age appropriateness for your kids. If you’re unsure, we encourage you to come check out a show for yourself before bringing your children. If you have questions about a specific show, please email us at shows@improv.org.

If your kids are interested in improv, consider enrolling them in one of the BATS School of Improv’s after-school or summer youth classes.

They are excellent if you like funny, exciting improv at 10 bucks! During our Student Showcases and Cave Matches (usually on Sunday) you’ll get to see a fun show featuring the next generation of San Francisco improv for less than a movie. And though it may be true that our student improvisers are not as experienced as our Main Stage Company members, rough around the edges also means fresh and innovative. Catch tomorrow’s stars on stage at BATS. You’ll be saying you ‘saw them when.’

The BATS School of Improv offers classes for folks with all levels of improv experience. Auditions for the Main Stage Company Guest Program are held once a year in April and are highly competitive.

BATS Improv was founded as “Bay Area Theatresports.” Over the years we became known in the community and in the improv world as “BATS” — it was everyone’s favorite shorthand for us . . . and it stuck. In 2001, we formally changed our name to “BATS Improv.” Read more about BATS’s history.

Absolutely. Improv @ Work offers custom entertainment and group training. We can bring a personalized improv show to your private party or can help your company build team skills, develop creativity, and improve morale with a fun, interactive, completely customized training.

We’d love to hear from you! Feedback, both positive and negative, helps us offer a better theatre experience for our patrons. Drop us an email at shows@improv.org.

2013 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Improv Community

– SF Improv Festival

Meet the Butler (1:18)
Improvised live at BATS

 

shows-side-imageShows Every
Friday & Saturday

The BATS Main Stage Company performs every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 in BATS’ Bayfront Theater at historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s scenic Marina District. Shows change every month.