Best Improv Group San Francisco 2005 -
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 play-length 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.