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 »

Press & Awards

For media requests, please contact Hamilton Ink via email or phone (415) 381-8198.


  • Best Theater Company 2014 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best Theater Company 2013 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Highly Recommended 2013 – Frommer’s Travel Guide
  • SFIF O.C.I.C Award 2013 – San Francisco Improv Festival
  • Best Theater Company 2012 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Highly Recommended 2012 – Frommer’s Travel Guide
  • Highly Recommended 2011 – Frommer’s Travel Guide
  • Highly Recommended 2010 – Frommer’s Travel Guide
  • Best Theater Company 2009 – San Francisco Chronicle: Bay List
  • Best Comedy Troupe 2008 – SF Weekly: Best of San Francisco
  • Best Theater Company 2007 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best First Date Spot 2007 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • BATS Improv Day: Nov. 10, 2006 – Declared by the City of San Francisco
  • Best Theater Company 2006 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best First Date Spot 2006 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Most Spontaneous Date Night 2006 – 7 x 7 Magazine
  • Best Improv Group 2005 – SF Weekly: Best of San Francisco
  • Best Comedy Troupe 2004 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best Improv Company 2003 – F Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best Place to Meet If You’re Looking for … 2003 – San Francisco Magazine
  • Best Improv Company 2001 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best Improv Company 2000 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best Improv Company 1999 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay
  • Best Improv Company 1998 – SF Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay

Press and Media Coverage


BATS Improv boldly goes where no improv have before, with audience suggestions inspiring the creating of entirely new characters (no Kirk, no Spock), relationships and worlds in a new improvised enterprise each night.


“I’ve failed!”

It was the only thing I could say at that point. So I threw up my arms and cut my losses. What happened next surprised me: There was a round of thunderous applause!

I was confused at first; though it sure did feel liberating. I goofed up. Yet people were cheering me for it?! I guess I could get used to that. As I would learn, to free your mind, to open your arms and embrace risk-taking, and to really “put yourself out there” we were being taught a lesson in positive reinforcement. Yes. Yes. Yes. Those are the words that move an improv story forward. Blocks? Not so good. 

In this special episode of Stark Insider TV I explore the mysterious, magical world of improv. We’ve been covering theater around San Francisco since 2009, but we had yet to go script free. I admit, I was nervous as I headed to BATS Improv at the Fort Mason Center. The idea is that the cast would take me–and my complete lack of stage experience–and teach me how to perform improv. Soon enough I found myself rolling on the floor, pretending to be a tree, and even speaking as a sex expert on a talk show. It’s all (painfully) now available for all the world to see in the video below…


Read the full story and watch the video »

You’ve seen SNL, you’ve watched Whose Line or Key & Peele. How many times have you said to yourself “What a fun job that must be!” But, have you considered that all these shows would not be possible without improvisational comedy? What you may not consider, is that these performers most likely went through serious training. Where? At an improv school, of course….

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Visitors flock to the Bay Area for its enchanting sights, of course. But if you’ve lived here for a while, you know the actual sounds of San Francisco and its neighbors weave the true spell that binds us. Cable car clang and fog horn blast, “ding-ding” of bike bells and cries of wild parrots. The wave organ and the Audium, the BART station busker and the underground dance floor, the protest and the crackdown, the echoes of the Beats and the roar of the stadium crowd. . . .

This is the local wall of sound we honor in this edition of Best of the Bay, our 39th annual celebration of the people, places, and things that make living here such a great experience. More than 15,000 of our readers voted in our Best of the Bay Readers Poll this year for their local, independent favorites in more than 200 categories . . .

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It was the last session of a six week improv class at Bay Area Theatre Sports (BATS), and I was really sad that it was over. My personal life had been falling apart, my long time girlfriend and I had begun what would end up being a year long break-up, and improv had been my one bright spot each week. But it also signaled the beginning of what was to be a brand new and exciting part of my career….

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The San Francisco Improv Festival is proud to announce that it has named BATS Improv as the 2013 recipient of the OCIC Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Improv Community!

We’re honoring BATS for their commitment, perseverance, and their anchor role in keeping improvisation rooted and vibrant in San Francisco for over 25 years.…

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Kasey Klemm fell in love with improv at Ignacio Valley High School in Concord, where he and his buddies formed an improv league. As a graduation present, his mom got him beginning classes at Bay Area Theatresports in San Francisco.

Sixteen years later, the company, now known as BATS Improv, is among the country’s most prominent improv groups and Klemm is in his third year as artistic director.

BATS Improv is coming off its best year ever. Klemm says that last year, more than 12,000 people attended BATS shows. . . .

Read the full story »


Do you need a good laugh? There is an abundance of humor to appreciate in the Bay Area. With many comedians getting their start in San Francisco and continuing to entertain Bay Area audiences, you have multiple options to choose from….

Come out to Bayfront Theater on Friday and Saturday nights for great comedy. BATS Improv features a twisted regular cast and some show-stealing guests. The troupe performs at a small and intimate theater at Fort Mason in the marina and any performance makes for a great date night….

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A Bay Area theatre company is celebrating 25 years of making people laugh as quick thinking actors create hilarious situations. BATS Improv offers up full-length performances…

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Watch the video »

For these past two months, I have reveled in the singularly delightful energy and ethos of Bay Area Theatresports (BATS). Now that I’ve finished my many-miled journey back home to New England, I’ve had the chance to catch my breath and take stock of the group’s greatness. And, man, is it rich. . . .

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Welcome to the Guardian’s Best of the Bay 2012! This is our 38th annual celebration of the people, places, and things that make living here such a great experience. Inside, you’ll find a feast of winners in categories like Best Burrito, Best Band, Best Strip Club, Best Shoe Store, Best Place to Watch the Sunset, Best Drag Queen, and beyond.

More than 15,000 of our readers voted in our Best of the Bay Readers Poll for their local, independent favorites in more than 200 of these categories . . .

Read the full story »

Isn’t murder best when improvised? (should we insert OJ reference here, or would that be so-so tired, and done with?) …

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Employees in a negotiation training workshop are chatting happily in a company cafeteria near San Francisco. They’re not on break. They’re on assignment. Their objective: to discover three things they didn’t know—and wouldn’t have guessed—about each other. They have two minutes. . . .

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Rating: 5 stars

Improvising Shakespeare last night, BATS Improv at Fort Mason took the suggested title from the audience of “Two Crows” and created a full length original romantic comedy full of Bardian plot twists with double identities and four sisters whoe father needs to marry them off royally. . . .

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You might not think a 25-year-old company with its own 200-seat theatre would consider a few simple chairs a purchase that would significantly boost production values. But if it’s a company where the story gets made up on the fly every performance and the props are all mimed, it makes sense that BATS Improv’s recent acquisition of a matched set of chairs for the stage is a small victory. . . .

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The New Year’s Eve Special directed by Tim Orr at BATS Improv at Fort Mason had a happy ending to its improvised long form “The Outcast,” an audience-suggested 1950s cold war thriller about a genius six year old who could read minds and outwitted her Russian kindnappers…

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One of my favorite performers and a gadfly about town, Joshua Brody, writes a sort of Christmas letter to his fans and friends. He says a lot of what I would have said had I said it, if you know what I mean. . . .

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BATS Improv at Fort Mason celebrated its 25th anniversary last Friday night with an interactive ensemble presentation called Theatresports, with two teams of actors, and a happy house treated to chocolate fountains and a little champagne post-performance. Veteran improv artist, Three for All’s Rafe Chase performed along with members including Lisa Rowland and Ben Johnson, who has clowned with Cirque du Soleil. . . .

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BATS Improv – on November 10th celebrates their 25th anniversary. 25 years of presenting innovative improv theatre to the Bay Area. . . .

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It was 1986, the year of Top Gun, Dallas, “Hands Across America,” and “Papa Don’t Preach.” In San Francisco, a comedy troupe called Fratelli Bologna joined forces with Seattle Theatresports’ Rebecca Stockley, and the rest was history. Bay Area Theatresports, now known as BATS Improv, marks its 25th anniversary this year with a special show Saturday . . .

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Bay Area Theatresports Artistic Director Kasey Klemm has overcome his fear of improvisation.

The actor, who began taking classes when he was 17 and joined BATS just before turning 21, admits, “Improv happens in the moment. No one knows where it’s going. It is scary at first. But after enough times on the ledge, it’s more than scary; it’s exhilarating.” . . .

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For all the laughs it generates, perhaps the most impressive thing about BATS Improv’s feature-length Improvised Hitchcock show is the moments of genuine tension. Seriously….

Read the full story and watch the video »

As I wrote already, I´ve been touring the US to visit the top entertainment destinations. In this first trip I had the chance to visit Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco (There’s still a lot of cities to go to). . . .

Well, it´s time to talk a little bit more about San Francisco; and the BATS Improv crew. . . .

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There’s birthday party energy in Steve Fogel’s San Carlos living room. Shouting! Squealing! Only the noisemakers aren’t kids. They’re grown-ups, 16 responsible adults pretending to toss an invisible ball of electricity around a circle. “Zip! Zap! Boing!” they shout, feigning shock (literally) or heavy exertion or winking Marx Brothers surprise as the electric “ball” moves this way and that. . . .

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On March 25, 2011, the BATS On-the-Go team visited AT&T Park to help train potential stadium staff. The high profile training was captured by NBC Bay Area television and later broadcast on the 6 o’clock news. The trainees were trying out for positions as stadium promoters during SF Giants games. Trainers included BATS Company members Barbara Scott, Laura Derry, Regina Saisi, and OTG Director Chris Sams. 

Read the full story and watch the video »


If anyone should know about the local improv scene it is Jamie Wright, the co-producer of the San Francisco Improv Festival and a member of the Crisis Hopkins improv and sketch-comedy group. Yet until recently, Mr. Wright had barely heard of The Committee, arguably the most important improvisational group to ever come out of the Bay Area….

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John Remak knows a few things about the new show he’s directing. He knows someone dies, and he knows someone will be tried for the murder.

After that, it’s really anybody’s guess. . . .

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Getting there, though, was easy enough. I went to the Marina District and followed the clanking masts of the docked sailboats until they ended at the base of the historic Fort Mason Center. Passing through the old military gates, I walked between rows of warehouses that stretched to the bay. . . .

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Last night we went to BATS Improv in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. BATS Improv is a non-profit education and performance theatre company that has been entertaining Bay Area audiences since 1986. Their unique style of acting-based improvisational theatre has made BATS Northern California’s largest improv theatre company and school and is a benchmark for improv all over the world.

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That troupe of irreverent tricksters BATS Improv has entered its second decade of interactive fun with no signs of slowing down. If screaming things from your seat, watching people make fools of themselves, and laughing until your guts hurt sounds like a great time to you – and it does to our readers – haul ass to see these perennial Bests.

Read the full story » (scroll to Nightlife and Entertainment)

Ah, the dreaded first date. There are worse things than sharing a laugh, right? Which is where BATS Improv comes in. The humor and audience involvement will help break the ice. Taking note of your date’s sense-of-humor level will tell you a lot. And even if the date turns out to be a dud, BATS’ hilarious theater-sports performances will entertain you.

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Masi Oka Earns Golden Globe Nomination

One of BATS’ former Sunday Players, Masi Oka, has just earned a Golden Globe nomination (and a People “breakout star” designation) for his role in the hit TV show Heroes (he plays a character named Hiro Nakamura, whose superpower is time travel). Masi took the whole gamut of BATS’ foundation- and performance-level classes while working as a programmer for ILM in the late 1990s before heading out for Hollywood. . . .

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On the occasion of BATS Improv’s 20th Anniversary, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared today “BATS Improv Day” in an official proclamation from city hall.

Here is the text of that proclamation . . .

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One autumn evening in 1986, William Hall was making dinner at his Noe Valley home with Rebecca Stockley, who had directed Hall, an actor and co-founder of the Commedia Dell’Arte troupe I Fratelli Bologna (the Bologna Brothers), in several local plays. She told Hall she’d been doing improv work and writing stories lately. Intrigued, Hall asked what her stories were about. She asked him to guess. “Space aliens” is what popped out of his mouth. . . .

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Shout suggestions, get up and participate, invent song titles and watch as BATS’ performers devise entire musical plots around them. Movies don’t let you interact. Dinners can force too much interaction. But improv theater provides just the right balance. Everything Bay Area Theatresports puts on stage is improvised on the spot. Shout suggestions, get up and participate, vote on your favorites, invent song titles and watch as BATS’ talented performers devise entire musical plots around them. Or simply sit there and be entertained.

Last night I went on a blind date, of sorts, with a fellow journalist, of sorts. We met outside of BATS Improv (AKA Bay Area Theatre Sports), located in San Francisco’s Bayfront Theater at Fort Mason Center, where we rode the elevator up to the third floor for a boisterous evening of improvised Shakespeare. . . .

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Interactive, inventive, and laugh-out-loud funny, BATS Improv, a San Francisco staple for 20 years, once again snags the Best Theater Company award. If you aspire to do more than shout things from your seat at its performances — which the company encourages — you can take a class from BATS and hone your raucous spontaneity into improv gold.

The players of BATS Improv are here to entertain you, amaze you, and inspire you and your potential new squeeze to take risks, participate, and enjoy the ice-breaking unexpectedness of their performances.

In 1976, Keith Johnstone created Theatresports, a playful performance format that pits teams of thespians against each other in what can only be termed an “act-off.” Major Theatresports leagues can now be found all over the world, but BATS Improv’s Battle-of-the-Bay Theatresports Tournament puts San Francisco on the map. . . .

Read the full story (PDF) »


Improvisational acting has often taken a back seat to more traditional forms of performance, but the difficulty of making shit up off the cuff can’t just be relegated to the pithy ad-libbing on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Games like The Harold, lauded as the “granddaddy of all long-form improv formats,” show that the technique is about more than engendering a few laughs; it’s about continuously unraveling a deeper meaning from any given situation. . . .

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In Rock ‘n’ Roll Theatresports, a battle to the finish is being waged between six teams of veteran improvisers. But then every moment on stage is a battle to finish in an improv tournament, where no one, beginning with the players, knows how anything is going to work out. It’s exceptional fun finding out with these first-rate improv pros at work (or rather play) in the eight-week competition leading off Bay Area Theatre Sports’ 20th anniversary season. . . .

Read the full story (PDF) »


I remember the day I gave up my dream of becoming a famous singer.

It was in sixth-grade glee club, and we were auditioning for parts in the holiday recital. I had to sing an a cappella soprano solo and I was so nervous that I could barely breathe, let alone sing (or bother to mention to the director that I was actually an alto). . . .

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Chicago has Second City, L.A. has the Groundlings, and San Francisco has BATS. BATS has been making Bay Area audiences laugh by making it up, à la Whose Line Is It Anyway?, for almost 20 years. From high-energy “Theatresports,” featuring two competing improv teams, to hilarious playlength improvised performances told in a potpourri of genres (musical, Shakespeare, sci-fi, western), the troupe never scripts a thing, making the audience the star of every show. BATS also offers special events and eclectic series, such as the Improv Long-Form Festival this month. A recent two-weekend soap opera spoof, Emotional Hospital, directed by core member John Remak and based entirely on audience suggestions, was an absolute scream. The group is in residence at the newly renovated Bayfront Theater in Fort Mason, which also houses one of the largest schools of improv in the country. Shows take place every Friday and Saturday, and student performances are on Sunday.


There’s no medicine like laughter and nothing quite as impressive, theatrically speaking, as improvisation. BATS Improv hands you both on a silver platter. Since 1986, BATS has provided both a training ground and a center for improv performance. The company specializes in full-length storytelling and can be seen performing several times a week.


Unlike most improvisation warm-ups and comedy sketches, works by Bay Area Theatresports are full-length plays created entirely on the fly. And kudos to the players and producers for keeping live theater based in financial reality with ticket prices in $12-to-$15 range.



BATS, a.k.a. Bay Area Theatresports, a.k.a. the Bay Area’s best improv group for the fourth year in a row, according to our readers, represents spontaneous hilarity at its finest. Not many performers can, on request, make you laugh until you’re in pain as they depict, say, an 11th-century knight impaling your brother on Martha’s Vineyard for having raped you, but these intrepid improvisers are up to the task. And for those envious of their superpowers, BATS conducts improv workshops to boot.



For the third year in a row, local audiences continue to choose the spirited Bay Area Theatresports as their destination for improvised theatre. A series of shows, including improvised musicals, take place throughout the summer, and ongoing improv workshops are also offered.



Improv is a decidedly hit-and-miss affair, but Bay Area Theatresports just keeps on swinging – and audiences keep on laughing. You want “Improv-vised Shakespeare”? “That Time on the Month Again” (all female improv, of course)? BATS delivers.



Turning improv into a competitive sport, Bay Area Theatresports performances at Fort Mason pit groups of students of the Keith Johnstone method of improv against one another with hilarious results. Audience members won’t be embarrassed for the performers even when they have an off night, because it’s all done in a spirit of good fun, with loads of zany antics. The improvers look like they’re having such a good time, you might be tempted to take a class or two yourself.



“A wild, crazy, innovative, fun journey into the unknown!”

– Audience member

Theatresports: Centaur (3:25)
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.

Map & Nearby

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At Fort Mason Center: 
The Interval 
(bar w/ snacks)
Greens (upscale vegetarian)
Off the Grid (food truck festival)

Our Favorites Near by:
 (roman-style pizzeria)
Patxi’s Chicago Pizza (pizza)
Plant (organic vegetarian)
Plutos (fresh american)
Tacolicious (untraditional taqueria)
The Tipsy Pig (gastropub)

Explore all the great restaurants on Chestnut Street