San Francisco Chronicle’s Little Man

Most review ratings mean nothing. One star, three stars, five stars, diamonds, forks and spoons, letter grades and thumbs: what do these actually translate as? However, there is one rating system that makes sense, both iconic and intuitive: The San Francisco Little Man. The Little Man, the benchmark of San Francisco theatre has been used for over fifty years to denote the quality of local theatre. Though some complain that the overt meanings of the Little Man’s actions allow for laziness on the part of readers, that assertion couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Little Man’s actions are a jumping off place for readers, enticing them to read further. And finally, the San Francisco Chronicle Theatre reviews have finally expanded the use of the Little Man, their long time rating system, into reviews of TV shows, CDs and all theatre. Now almost 60 years old, this San Francisco Chronicle legacy was born, the creation of artist Warren Goodrich. The artist recalled at the Little Man’s 50th birthday party, being beaten by a young actress with an umbrella, who stated “I hate the Little Man.” Though some San Francisco theatre critics resent the visual implications of the newspaper icon, the subtle redesigns fitted onto the Little Man ten years ago have allowed for more ambiguity in the icon, so that critics can reveal their opinions in their articles rather than their ratings. Little Man’s rating system is similar to a stars rating system.  Five stars is equivalent to a wild applause Little Man. Anything gaining this San Francisco Chronicle theatre review is worth a standing ovation.  The second little man provides polite applause: what he’s listening to isn’t perfect, but he’s not going to complain. The third Little Man is the alert viewer. This rating in the San Francisco Chronicle theatre section means that Little Man enjoys the show, but it’s nothing to write home about. A strictly neutral performance. Little Man four is a snoozing viewer. Don’t expect the audience to maintain interest in this performance. Finally, Little Man number five is the empty chair. A rating this dismal means that the CD will be left behind, the production will end after one night and the TV series will be canceled faster than a Pauly Shore sitcom. The favorite of the new designs is the third man. He’s completely neutral, unlike the confusing third star. Also, a San Francisco theatre review bearing this mark calls for questions, urging the reader to continue browsing the article, in order to discover what the ambiguity really means. Though the Little Man system was previously used only for large theatre openings, the San Francisco Chronicle theatre rating icon is now used for most branches of entertainment, from San Francisco theatre to music. Small San Francisco theatre productions as well as Best of Broadway productions will now be judged on the same scale, elevating the artistic level expected of SoMa performances. This helps less renowned productions gain credibility, as readers will know what to expect from San Francisco theatre.