Not that it is a competition, but I could write a laundry list/love letter of L.A. improv teams that could go toe-to-toe with any improv group from anywhere.
I’m curious! Which groups do you really love from LA! Which groups have you seen from Chicago?
Okay, so there is a pretty big caveat with L.A. improv in that everyone moves to Los Angeles, so we have the benefit of having great Chicago and NYC improvisors teach and coach us, and also we get to see them at work (it’s also for this reason that citing Quartet and Delicious Moments as examples of L.A. improv is technically cheating, I think—Dr. God’s legit, though). Bearing that in mind, I’m gonna rattle off some of my favorite homegrown L.A. improv groups and probably forget lots of people:
Convoy, Murdercliff, Last Day of School, Shakedown, Bangarang!, Kid Grift, John Velvet, D’Artagnan, Sassy Bluff, Comrades, Hip Hop Penguin, Guy Five, King Ten, Delicatessen (RIP), Squeeze, PALS, Daily Double, Sentimental Lady, Flap Jackson. Also Mach Improv, because it’s some of the most fun improv I’ve ever seen/participated in and it’s consistently a highlight of my week.
For Chicago shows I’ve seen, is it fair to include groups here in L.A. that were either imported here wholesale from Chicago or contain 100% originally Chicago-based improvisors? I’m doing it anyway: Revolver, A Raptor, The Late 90s, Bassprov, Classy D, Rick, Challenger, The Reckoning, Beer Shark Mice, Dasariski, Quartet, Adsit & Gausas, Middleberger, Heather & Miles, Elephants Gerald, Tres, FrankenMatt. All of these teams are good, most are great, a few make my mind explode. On top of this I’ve seen many great Chicago improvisors in shows with New York and L.A. improvisors. I have regrettably never seen TJ & Dave.
This was long.
This was awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to put that together. I think the LA scene struggles against the perception that performers in LA don’t actually care about improv as a stand alone art form. That somehow improv is just a means to an end. I don’t know if that is a fair perception or not but it’s deff floating out there.
It’s something you deal with less in Chicago, because the route to commercial success out here almost always involves leaving. People who stick around aren’t here to get big or to make money, they’re here to do good work and improve. Every now and again we see super talented friends get plucked out for these amazing opportunities, but for the most part those that are really chasing a career get that they have to leave Chicago in order to do it.
But a list of teams that long means there must be great things going on in LA. I’ve heard awesome things about Convoy. Apparently the Dr God shows in Chicago weren’t great, but basing how good an improv team is off a few shows on an unfamiliar stage is really not fair. I have a suspicion we’re selling the LA scene horribly short. Some day I really hope I can come check it out.
The list of Chicago performers you mentioned are all great! Revolver, A Raptor, The Late 90s, Bassprov, Classy D, Rick, Challenger, and The Reckoning are all folks i’ve seen before. Some of those guys still exist and some of them are now defunct. The second half of the list were those teams you mentioned, they either existed before my time or just featured Chicago transplants.
How many of those teams that you listed exist in the independent scene? What do you think about the LA independent scene? Is it pretty healthy?
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