Suburban Thunder Improv Company

Tickling the funnybone of the 'burbs!

it's clear


our next show

  • $10
  • 08/26/2017 08:00 PM
  • Front Row Theater

Check back here or on the San Ramon Performing Arts website to find out when we'll be back at The Front Row Theater!

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upcoming classes

  • 04/10/2017 05:00 PM
  • Dougherty Station Community Center

If your son or daughter is a natural performer, or incredibly shy, this is the class for them!

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  • 04/12/2017 07:00 PM
  • Dougherty Station Community Center

Practice long form improv (with some games thrown in for laughs!) with the Suburban Thunder Improvisors!

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  • 08/16/2017 07:00 PM
  • Dougherty Station Community Center

Practice long form improv (with some games thrown in for laughs!) with the Suburban Thunder Improvisors!

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  • 09/11/2017 05:00 PM
  • Dougherty Station Community Center

For the natural-born performing middle schooler! Or that student who needs practice in public speaking, this is the class for you! Break out of your shell in a fun and safe place!

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  • 10/11/2017 07:00 PM

Learn and practice long-form improv and more advanced improv techniques.

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current ST!C troupe


the yoga instructor


the accents


the wordsmith


the drill sargeant


the counselor


the bossypants

guests • alumni • student troupes

Pumpkin: ST!C Guest Performer

Mike has enjoyed improv for a few years. His mom inspired him to give improv a try by saying late in her life "if I had to do it all again, then I think I would be a circus clown." Mike decided to not wait for "later in life", but rather to scare himself by daring himself to try. After all, "Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all." - Helen Keller. • Mike hopes to make you laugh, but mostly aspires to keep you engaged, entertained, and moved.


Spike: ST!C Guest Performer

Mike created our Suburban Thunder Improv Company logo and performs with ST!C when he needs a dose of laughter!


Michael: ST!C Alumnus

Michael recently had the great opportunity to move on to a new chapter in his story. We congratulate him, and his wife, on their wonderful new adventure. And look forward to seeing him with whatever new improv group he takes over! • The dram-rom version of Michael's bio: Michael's long, clandestine career in the KGB led him to improvisational comedy. Deep cover in the capitals of Europe and a decade in the Siberian wasteland positioned him very well for a 'yes, and' world. Intrigue? Always. Loneliness? Sometimes. Torture? Seldom. Take care as you observe his catlike movements and Gollum-esque obsession with love, art, human pain and joy. Little will you know of him midst the shadows and silences of the stage, but perhaps his cold warrior mentality will make you long for the pre-Gorbachev days of wine, roses, and smoking guns. • And now the more serious: Michael got started with improv in misty 1980s Berkeley. He loved the art form so much that he didn't do it again until 2010 in San Ramon. Clearly an homage to the notion of original sin. Now, between cups of Peet's coffee, sunny days on the golf course, or hanging out at the Oakland Coliseum lamenting his poor A's, you can find Michael mining the deeper recesses of his mind on stage at Dougherty Center.


Brodie: Wednesday Troupe

Brodie is a high school student.


Carolee: Wednesday Troupe

Carolee works at a tech company.


David: Wednesday Troupe

David is a high school student.


Diana: Wednesday Troupe

While Diana is a native suburbanite, she has travelled extensively and lived in an actual city a few times. In her life before kids, Diana was a competitive figure skater, dancer, and speech communication major who toiled away in a Silicon Valley cubicle. She is overjoyed to have found the gang at Suburban Thunder!


about us

Suburban Thunder Improv Company, spawned in the friendly confines of the docile San Francisco Bay Area bedroom community of San Ramon, is unique among improvisers.

Over the past decade, we have scoured the bedrooms of this sleepy neighborhood for closet improvisers - people with a penchant for play in between commutes to their workplaces during the day.

Holding their craziness inside for 8-12 hours a day in the "real world", these vampires of the stage come out at night, incisors flashing.

ST!C is made up of software engineers, seedy consultants, voyeuristic therapists, retired firemen, old men and hot women plus a broad swath of other representatives of the lunatic fringe.

None of us are pros - but we are poetry in improv!

about us


How do I get tickets for your show ?

Go to and look for "tickets" in the menu. Then pull down "buy tickets". You'll see our shows in the scrolling list there. You can also call the box office (925) 973-3343. If you suddenly feel like having a laugh, just drop by the box office right before the show. Tickets are always $10! Best value for your buck!

Where do you perform?

We perform at The Front Row Theater, at Dougherty Station Community Center. 17011 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon

Do you have a group discount price?

We sure do! Call the box office for group sales of 10 or more. (925) 973-3343

I need a team building session for my office. Can you come here for that?

Absolutely! We can tailor a session just for your team. We'll help you to better work together, really listen to each other, and trust your instincts. Let us build a class with your specific needs. Email us for more details.

what is improv?

improvisation [im-prov-uh-zey-shuh n, im-pruh-vuh-]

  • noun: the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation:

im·prov [ˈimpräv/]

  • noun; informal: improvisation, especially as a theatrical technique.

A Short History of Improv

You may have seen "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" and wondered how they can make up all of those funny scenes.  Here is a brief history of modern improv.

Improvisational theatre is as old as time. It pre-dates the invention of writing, since long before we started writing scripts we were telling stories by acting them out. It has its basis in  commedia dell'arte, an Italian Renaissance form of theater in which a traveling comedy troupe would perform farces without a written script. Though the basic scenario was agreed upon, the dialogue and  the pacing of the story often depended on audience reactions.

After the Commedia died off, improv theatre faded into obscurity until it was separately and spontaneously re-invented by two people who have shaped the craft as it exists today -- Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin.

Keith Johnstone and Theatresports

Keith Johnstone started formulating his theories about creativity and spontaneity while growing up in England, and later brought them into his teaching at the University of Calgary. He felt that theatre had become pretentious, which is why the average man in the street didn't even consider attending it. Johnstone wanted to bring theatre to the people who went to sporting and boxing matches, the same audience that Shakespeare had written for in his day.

Johnstone decided that one approach would be to combine elements of both theatre and sports, to form a hybrid called Theatresports. The trappings of team sports were adapted to the improvisational theatre context; teams would compete for points awarded by judges, and audiences would be encouraged to cheer for good scenes and jeer the judges ("kill the umpire!").

Through Theatresports, Johnstone's ideas have gone on to influence (directly or indirectly) almost every major improv group.

Viola Spolin and Theatre Games

Back in the 1920's and 1930's, a woman named Viola Spolin began to develop a new approach to the teaching of acting. It was based on the simple and powerful idea that children would enjoy learning the craft of acting if it were presented as a series of games.

Spolin's son, Paul Sills, built on his mother's work and was one of the driving forces of improvisational theatre centered around the University of Chicago in the mid-1950's. Along with people like Del Close and David Shepherd, Sills created an ensemble of actors who developed a kind of "modern Commedia" which would appeal to the average man in the street. As with Theatresports and the original Commedia, the goal was to create theatre that was accessible to everyone.

The group that sprang from the work of Sills, Shepherd and Close, called The Compass, was extremely successful. It brought people to the theatre who in many cases had never gone before, and eventually led to the development of a company called Second City.

Through The Compass and Second City, Spolin's Theatre Games have gone on to influence an entire generation of improvisational performers.

what is improv?