We had the good fortune of connecting with Bill Chott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bill, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an improviser and teacher and a character actor, risk plays a very big role in my life and my career. My goal is to be the kindness that some people feel is lacking in the world. So every moment is taking a risk in being kind to people. It’s not what a lot of people are expecting.
But in taking those risks, people find that there are a lot more kind people out there than they had expected to find. Improv is a way to be open and vulnerable and communicate at the very height of your ability. I took a risk in starting my business and now I help people and businesses feel more comfortable taking risks and achieving the unexpected.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started learning improv in my youth because all my heroes in entertainment had studied improv. When I started, I didn’t know exactly how improv prepared an actor for the unexpected. And I didn’t know I’d be teaching it for over 25 years.
I started my journey studying with Stephen Colbert at the Second City and the skills I learned prepared me for my performances on The Dana Carvey Show, doing voices for cartoons on SNL, in the film The Ringer and on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place.
Between jobs, I was often hired by The Second City and other schools to teach. Sometimes to actors, but often for people who just wanted to learn to listen better, communicate more effectively, manager risk and learn to find the fun in work, at home and everywhere.
For a few years, I moved back to my home town of St. Louis, MO. While I was there I opened an improv school and theater and refocused my teaching to be a lot more accessible to the non-actor. I actively pursued every opportunity to participate in what is known as Applied Improvisation. Applied Improv is simply taking concepts, ideas, and techniques from the world of improvisation and applying them to business, relationships, and life.
I found that I loved seeing the idea of improv click for someone and hearing from them the next week how it was helping them in their everyday lives.
One of the lessons I’ve learned it so make space for the unexpected. Making space for other’s ideas, making space for improvement of myself. Nothing can happen without the space to grow.
I was a bit surprised as well to see how many businesses both large and small sought me out because they knew the skills we learn in improvisation could be valuable for many departments within each company: sales, teamwork and presentations. I take each day as it comes and try to always leave space for something amazing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Friends visiting from out of town would have to spend some time at Harvest Moon, one of my favorite places for a casual yet classy brunch. I’d insist on some drinks, trivia and a great prime rib sandwich at The Tam O’Shanter, and while there I’d take them on a walk through Atwater Village to see the stylized homes in the neighborhood originally built to house the Disney animators, with an eye on bohemian architecture, and the much more modern North Atwater Bridge.
I’d like to show them (and hopefully ride) the Griffith Park carousel. it’s a bit of relic but the military organ that plays classic marches and carnival tunes is one of a kind.
It would be fun to take a total newcomer and drive around Hollywood and downtown LA and show them all the historic studios and locations from movies. I’ve learned quite a few over the years.
El Cid in Los Feliz is another great part of Hollywood History. The site of many silent films and now a great venue for good food, flamenco dancing, vintage burlesque and comedy. A throwback lunch or dinner could also be had at Clifton’s.
One of my favorite slices of pizza is at Joe Peep’s in Valley Village. A walk around the little area adjacent to Studio City/Sherman Oaks/North Hollywood is also a lot of fun. In the valley, the new Comedy Chateau is a great place to perform. I do a two man magic, improv and musical act – The Charlatans – that did our first post-pandemic show there. A great intimate club and a bit of a change-up from where we usually perform at the other must-see venue The Magic Castle. The Magic Castle is a private club for magicians and their guests that’s hidden up in the hills above Hollywood.
Old school cocktails can be found at Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood of course, but the Frolic Room, The Formosa and Boardner’s are some of the best for price and atmosphere.
There are plenty of great places for coffee, but if you live near North Hollywood as I do, you should get your coffee and some light sandwiches in the Groundwork Coffee inside the Historic Train Depot. Built in 1890, It’s at the intersection of two of LA’s most travelled public transportation routes and at one time it was the railway stop at which oranges from all over the San Fernando Valley were sent around the world.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to Shout Out to my wife, Samantha Chott. She is faithfully by my side in everything that I do. She helps me find the best in me and lets me know that who I am is the most important thing in the world. It is a pleasure raising our daughter Isabella with her. Our inside jokes are the best in the world.
Other: TikTok @billchott