Bay Area Improviser Survey Results: Statistics and Favorite Groups

In April-May 2018, I put out a survey for improvisers in the San Francisco Bay Area, to gather their opinions on a range of issues affecting us as performers and audience members. As the survey was quite long, I thought I’d release the results in a series of blog posts.

For this first entry, I’m going to cover the statistics of the respondents as they were answered. This may not be an accurate representation of the SF Bay Area improv community at large (e.g. no one in the 18-23 age group responded, and representation of the Peninsula, and South and North Bays are very limited), but it’s important to note because the attitudes of those who did not respond may differ from these results. The answers in this series come from the representation that follows. Detailed demographics statistics were not obtained due to the desire to keep anonymity amongst the respondents, and allow for more honest answers.

My goal had been to receive a minimum of 50 responses to this survey. I met that goal 6 days into it. The final tally of respondents was 104.

After dealing with the statistics in this entry, you’ll find the list of all the Bay Area based improv groups that were mentioned as favorites to see, because I want to start out this blog series of survey results by highlighting the most positive and supportive side of our community.

How long respondents have been improvising
Length of time respondents have been improvising:
Less than a year: 6 (5.8%)
1-2 years: 11 (10.6%)
3-5 years: 27 (26%)
6-9 years: 21 (20.2%)
10-15 years: 15 (14.4%)
More than years: 24 (23.1%)

Number of groups respondents perform with
Number of groups respondent has performed with in past 12 months and plans to continue performing with:
None that reflect that capacity: 18 (17.3%)
1: 13 (12.5%)
2: 30 (28.8%)
3: 14 (13.5%)
4: 14 (13.5%)
5: 2 (1.9%)
More than 5: 13 (12.5%)

Where respondents live
Where in the Bay Area the respondents live:
San Francisco City: 54 (51.9%)
East Bay: 38 (36.5%)
The Peninsula: 7 (6.7%)
South Bay: 3 (2.9%)
North Bay: 2 (1.9%)

Where respondents perform most frequently
Where in the Bay Area the respondents have performed most frequently in the last 12 months:
San Francisco City: 77 (74.8%)
East Bay: 15 (14.6%)
The Peninsula: 1 (1%)
South Bay: 4 (3.9%)
North Bay: 0
Outside Bay Area: 1 (1%)
Have not performed in the last 12 months: 5 (4.9%)

Where respondents have traveled to watch improv:
N.B. There is no graphic associated with this because respondents could pick multiple locations. 102 respondents answered this question.
San Francisco City: 83 (81.4%)
The Peninsula: 6 (5.9%)
South Bay: 26 (25.5%)
East Bay: 51 (50%)
North Bay: 5 (4.9%)
Outside Bay Area (LA): 39 (38.2%)
Outside Bay Area (Chicago): 21 (20.6%)
Outside Bay Area (New York): 19 (18.6%)
Outside Bay Area (Elsewhere US): 30 (29.4%)
Outside Bay Area (Internationally): 7 (6.9%)

Age ranges of respondents
Age ranges of respondents:
18-23: 0
24-29: 21 (20.6%)
30-35: 29 (28.4%)
36-42: 17 (16.7%)
43-50: 15 (14.7%)
51+: 20 (19.6%)

This means that more than 50% of our respondents were age 36 or older. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of Bay Area improvisers are in that age range, just that this is the make up of those who chose to respond to the survey. I find this statistic interesting because sometimes it feels like there’s a perception that improvisers are usually younger.

Diversity of respondents
Respondents who identify as anything other than straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied man:
Yes: 61 (58.7%)
No: 38 (36.5%)
Prefer not to say: 5 (4.8%)

I also find this result interesting because of the perception that improv is dominated by the straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied male perspective. Now, it may be that those who identify otherwise just had more interest in voicing their opinions on this survey, or else the SF Bay Area improv community is actually more diverse than some of us may perceive it to be.

Favorite Improv Groups/Shows

These are all the improv groups/shows that were mentioned in response to the question “Who is/are your favorite Bay Area improv group(s) to watch?” 63 people chose to respond to this question, and few people listed only one group. Some people responded with their favorite improv theatre company, rather than specific groups, so those will be listed here too. The numbers in the parenthesis indicate how many times each group was mentioned and groups are listed alphabetically.

The reason I wanted to share this list was because I figured this would be a great way of highlighting the groups that people want to recommend, so hopefully more of us can make an effort to check them out and see what other improvisers are enjoying. (And if I’ve made any errors in the names here, I apologize. It’s probably because I hadn’t heard of the group and just kept the text of the respondent who included it).

[ ] (1)
3 For All (5)
5 Play (1)
AIT players (1)
All That Jazz (1)
American Immigrants (1)
Awkward Dinner Party (2)
Awkward Face (1)
Bingewatch (5)
Boarding Party (1)
The Bridge (2)
Caboose (1)
Cat Dance (2)
Chesterfield (4)
Chick Flick (1)
Crazy Str8s (2)
Dammit, Carol! (1)
Deadbeats (2)
Decon 7 (1)
Drunk Theatre (2)
Euro Trash (1)
Flaky Jake (1)
Flash Mob Musical (5)
FOX (1)
Hamilton & MacLean (1)
HUGE (3)
Improv Lab (2)
Improv Playhouse of San Francisco (5)
Iron Stage (1)
Liquid Mind (1)
Liss ‘n Sams (5)
Local Honey (5)
Luxury Cruise Singles Mixer (7)
Magic (1)
Machete Cats (1)
Macho Men (1)
Marthas (2)
Odell and DeJong (5)
Past Our Prime Time Players (2)
Peach Pit (3)
Phasers on Stun (1)
Platonic Motorboats (1)
The Professionals (2)
Rachel Hamilton (4)
RadioStar (1)
The Recchia/Your Fucked Up Relationship (9)
The Right Now (4)
Rusty Nails (1)
Shades of Grey (2)
Something (2)
So You Want A Job (1)
Speechless (1)
Swipe Right (1)
Taco Monster (1)
Trifecta (7)
Type A (1)
Vagina Jones (1)
YUM! (1)

Events and Theatre Companies
(N.B. I separated these from the above list because the majority of them are theatres or events that may encompass multiple shows and/or groups).
BATS Improv (7)
Feel Good Glam Jam (1)
Leela (1)
Living Arts Playback Theater (1)
Suburban Thunder Improv Company (1)
Synergy Theatre (1)
Two-Play Extravaganza (1)
Un-Scripted Theatre Company (5)

Other Mentions/Comments

  • I like groups that do interesting things with formats or rep a underserved group. Don’t know that I have a FAVORITE per se.
  • Haven’t seen enough different theaters to choose
  • Other duos (this was listed after Euro Trash)
  • Most musical BATS
  • No clear favorite
  • Don’t know

Up next: Attitudes towards watching and performing improv

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