Coach since 2005
Chris Sams served for eight years as Director of BATS’ Improv @ Work (formerly On-The-Go) corporate training programs. He joined the BATS School of Improv coaching staff in January 2005. Chris enjoys teaching all levels of series classes, from Foundation 1 to performance classes such as the Harold and TheatreSports.
A current trainer-facilitator with BATS’ Improv @ Work program, Chris catalyzes teams to develop more innovative professionals and business leaders. He has led workshops focusing on a range of business skills, such as communication, adaptability, navigating change, creativity, leadership, presence, storytelling, collaboration, building trust, and enhancing team dynamics. Chris has led workplace workshops for more than 100 companies and corporate teams, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, Genentech, Google, Kaiser Permanente, LinkedIn, McKinsey & Co., UC Berkeley Haas Center for Executive Education, and Virgin America.
Chris has performed improv in a variety of groups and settings, including All-Star shows and BATS’ Sunday Player shows since 2002. He has guested with Un-Scripted Theatre Company to host more than 50 performances of You Bet Your Improvisor. Chris now performs as an ensemble member of Un-Scripted’s DASH, a freestyle flashform hour-long improv spectacle. He debuted and directed The Blank Show at BATS Improv, where he hosts the improvised game show on select Sundays. He’s appeared on the BATS stage on ten Cave Match teams, including the Flux Capacitors, the Hand Models of #YOLO County, and Pun Direction.
What do you like about improv?
For me, improvisation at its core is about letting go, noticing more, being present in the moment, finding spontaneous opportunities, staying positive, and discovering infinite possibilities. Teaching improvisation (and its practical applications both on and off the stage) is my passion and purpose in life. To have stumbled upon this ultimate expression of being alive is an extraordinary gift for which I am eternally grateful.
What was your first BATS Show?
A Main Stage TheatreSports match in 2000 where I saw Paul Killam and Barbara Scott play an unforgettable scene on a pirate ship. It was magical, hilarious, and a monumental moment in time when I knew I was destined to improvise. In March 2002, I performed with our class in Paul’s Performance Workshop to a sold-out house.
Your first improv class?
My first improv class was at BATS Improv in April 2000, Beginning (now F1) with Barbara Scott. It changed my life… in a good way.
Best moment on the BATS stage?
New ones are popping up all the time. Usually it’s a moment in improv class or a show when someone in the activity or scene surprises and/or delights all of us.
Why should people study improv?
Improv training is the most fun way that I know to develop 21st century business skills: creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. For others, it brings richness and joy to their personal lives, cultivating habits to be more enlightened, connected human beings.
Why should people do improv?
Because it isn’t what our expectations and fears warn us it will be before ever having tried it. It helps you connect to others, to new ideas, and to your own imagination and yields fun, positivity, and more adventure.
What has improv taught you about life?
Just about everything. And that I still have a lot more to learn.
Any improv advice?
Ask yourself: “how is the opposite also true?” Stay curious. Be bold.
What are your artistic influences?
Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, Christopher Guest, Catherine O’Hara, Betty White, Jane Lynch, Dave Barry, Anne Lamott, Ellen Degeneres, Bob Eubanks, Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, Michael Ian Black, John Cameron Mitchell to name a few.