Customer Service. Leadership. Communications Skills. Soft Skills. Agility. Employee Engagement.

As CSz performers, we use our improvisation skills onstage to get people laughing.  Conveniently, offstage, we use them to run a successful business. We specialize in teaching people HOW to use improvisation techniques in their work lives. We teach the essential, yet often overlooked or discarded, communication and listening skills that will consistently improve the quality of your work, home and social relationships. We call this Applied Improvisation.

Improvisation is not "winging it".
It's a highly-refined system of observing, connecting and responding.

Listening - with true focus, staying in the moment
Accepting - circumstances and what others bring to the table
Supporting - making others look good
Taking Competent Risks - trusting and using your intuition
Letting Go of Mistakes - learn and move on

Worldwide, CSz has delivered successful training to employees in every known industry, from network execs to nuns, from lawyers to lumberjacks to high-tech engineers. We’ve been hired by at least 65 of this year's Fortune 500 companies, often repeatedly. In Portland alone, we've worked with nearly 500 organizations since 1993.

We offer vital information in a format that's thoroughly entertaining and makes the discussion of key concepts both more resonant and memorable for your people.  And that's the goal - give them a great experience that will bond them socially and empower them in their work capacity. One more thing: We never forget the fun!

CSz Business Training can design a session or series that fits your needs and goals. Let us know what your needs are, and we'll design for your goals.

Customer Service. Team Building. Leadership. Ideation. Your Goals.


Customer Service

What if your employees were empowered to make customer service an opportunity instead of a cost?

The top of your game is not your rulebook, nor your script, nor what you did with the last customer. It's improvisation - a highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding.

We apply improv to these areas:

  • Listening with focus 
  • Accepting circumstances
  • Empathy with Customers
  • Supporting the Team - making others look good
  • Letting Go of preconceived roles and roadblocks
  • Sharing mistakes - and shaking them off
  • Saying YES, AND...
  • Finding where we're needed without direction
  • Awareness of the Big Picture

And while we help your people become more effective, we're bonding them together, engaging them and helping you retain them.

Workshops range from two hours to multiple days to a series over several weeks.  Let us know what you need.  We'd love to help you get your service to the next level.

"We built great awareness on considering the language we use and the actions we take and how they impact others. Improvisation is valuable, not just because it applies, but because it is a different way of tackling problems and opportunities. It brings new perspective in a fun, interesting and lasting way."

Lori Bocklund, Strategic Contact

Team Building

The Building Blocks of Everything We Do

When people see a ComedySportz® show for the first time, they're often struck by how the players seem to read each others' minds, and how completely they support each other. No one seems worried when things go wrong - often, the audience can't even tell that something isn't perfect.

It's not an accident.  It's by design, and we apply those same skills to your company - we call it "Applied Improvisation".  Give us a few hours of your people's time, and we'll help you build a stronger team.

We focus on these areas:

  • Laughing together
  • Thinking fast
  • Listening with focus
  • Letting Go of preconceived roles and roadblocks
  • Sharing mistakes - and shaking them off
  • Saying YES, AND...
  • Honoring and Building on our teammates' contributions and ideas
  • Finding where we're needed without direction
  • Committing to the goal
  • Making Others Look Good
  • Celebrating our team accomplishments

Sounds like a pretty good team, doesn't it?

All of our workshops contain multiple elements of team building - and they go way beyond "trust exercises".  Trust doesn't happen just because you catch someone falling backward. We give you the building blocks that create trust.

Team Building is the core of what we do. 

Workshops range from two hours to multiple days to a series over several weeks.  Let us know what you need.  We'd love to help you build your team.

"Wonderful! We really appreciate your efforts. The event helped solidify and create a great atmosphere within the team."

Saul Lopez, Nike North America Brand Organization


Management is never easy, but it can become easier to lead.

Great management takes ongoing work to overcome innumerable challenges. Hone the craft of caring for your team through listening, inclusion, support, empowerment and understanding the needs of those who follow.

  • Play Multiple Roles - be more flexible without breaking
  • Command authority without demanding it - lead by following
  • Identify both productive and non-productive games and patterns
  • Build morale by being present and in the moment
  • Be a better listener for your team
  • Take risks without panic: the minute you take a step, conditions WILL change

We can help your managers become leaders.  These workshops are great for:

  • Groups of Managers
  • New Manager with an established team
  • Established Manager with a new team

Inspire your leaders.  Inspire your teams.  We can help.

"Since our workshop, my supervisors have been more effective in their communication and recognition of 'their customers', the front line employees. I personally enjoyed the fact that your group is professional, non-judgmental, encouraging and fun."

Horizon Air

Design Thinking / Ideation / Brainstorming

Get rid of the roadblocks at the start of your projects.

Improv culture - the spirit of collaboration through Yes, And... - is a great fit for Design Thinking.

  • Fail early
  • Fail often
  • Remove editors, critics and judges from the early stages
  • Leap past roadblocks 
  • Build on each other's ideas

We've built an exciting Design Thinking module that fits right into a half day session of Applied Improvisation.

"Thanks again for a great class today at PSU. Students loved it! One student from the architecture department even commented that what he learned from that session will probably serve him for life. Great thing to hear!"

Shimon Shmueli, Portland State University and Touch 360


Improvisation teaches us a lot about life.

It's a highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding. The results are pretty positive: we make something out of nothing, and make something better out of the opportunities we are given.

Let us share this system with your group, department, team, meeting, association or convention.

We can relate it to what they need. Guaranteed.

When would you want a Keynote?

  • When you want a kick-off with a huge burst of energy
  • When you want people to laugh and take away some useful and practical theories and applications
  • When a ComedySportz® Show isn't the right fit, and you have too many people, too little time and/or not enough space for a fully participatory workshop

We can tailor the presentation to your group and to your situation, from a few folks in a conference room to thousands.  From 15 minutes to an hour, this speech will leave people laughing with each other.  Even if what we say isn't laugh out loud, the exercises we weave in for demonstration and participation will be a blast.

Choose from the following, or suggest your own:

  • What Business Can Learn From Improv
  • Leading Your Group to the Extraordinary
  • Customer Service Counts
  • Customer Service in Chaotic Times
  • Vision: Do Good, Have Fun, Make Money

Patrick Short is in his 27th year leading ComedySportz® Shows and Applied Improv Workshops; he also spent a lot of time in the high-tech industry, marketing to and selling to companies of all kinds. He gets how to relate improv concepts to actually doing business.


Our teachers have hundreds or even thousands of ComedySportz® shows and workshops under their belts. Through our licensing organization, the CSz Worldwide, we've exchanged ideas and training with the best improvisers and teachers across the United States and United Kingdom, and certified this through our Certified Applied Improvisation Provider program. Now, by adding membership in the Applied Improvisation Network, we've gotten even stronger through world-wide alliances. We're constantly improving our offerings, and we work with amazing companies. We also have the business experience to back our activities up, make sense of them and relate them to your objectives.

CSz workshop facilitators are improv professionals from with significant professional experience in:

  • High Tech Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Small Business Ownership
  • Information Services / Reference Librarian
  • Human Resources / recruiting
  • Product Design
  • Branding
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Health Professions
  • Education
  • Purchasing and Accounting
  • and more

Our Co-Owner and General Manager, Patrick Short, a veteran of CSz since 1987, was involved in our very first team building engagement with Apple in 1989. Patrick began using Applied Improvisation during graduate school, teaching elementary education candidates at the University of Wisconsin how to survive in the classroom. After receiving the MFA degree in Directing, Patrick moved into hi-tech marketing and then sales, assisting clients with their acquisition of manufacturing and distribution systems; this career allowed him the opportunity to learn how companies work - and sometimes don't work. He's taught our CSz 101 Class, a beginning improv course, over 80 times - and has designed and led custom workshops for over 400 organizations. Patrick wrote the Corporate Workshops portion of our league-wide ComedySportz® Manual and has co-authored two books.

Want some details about our team?  Here's how we walk the talk:

  • CSz Portland has 45 team members; all came up through our classes and Minor League System. We've never had an audition.
  • 6 of 12 founding members from 1993 are still on the payroll
  • Most players attend between 25 and 100 workshops a year. That's a lot of continuing education.
  • 25 members of the team teach during the year.
  • We've performed over 4300 shows and taught more than 2000 workshops since 1993 - in a business with an average lifespan of six months.
  • We operate a profitable for-profit company - most theatres are not-for-profit and most teachers in our business are sole proprietors; we're putting our own training into practice - in our own company - every day.

Our whole team has soaked up approaches from a wide range of sources in Applied Improvisation and beyond; We've synthesized our methodology by serving hundreds of clients in many fields and by teaching each other within our group.

We bring the appropriate people to work with your group, and we have resources to draw upon both inside and outside our organization (nationwide and world wide).

Our Certifications:

Patrick Short, CAI-EP (Executive Practitioner, CSz Worldwide) and AIP (Applied Improvisation Network)
Betse Green, CAI-SP (Senior Practitioner, CSz Worldwide)
Curtis Frye, CAI-P (Practitioner, CSz Worldwide)

Our Books

Jill and Patrick's Small Book of Improv for Business

the Small Book makes a nice companion to our training

the Small Book makes a nice companion to our training

CSz Portland's Patrick Short has teamed up with Jill Bernard (HUGE Theater and CSz Twin Cities) to author a book that crystallizes what we've learned about improvisation applied to business.

It's called Jill and Patrick's Small Book of Improv for Business. In a quick 108 pages, you can connect the dots between improv (the system and techniques we use to create our amazingly fast and funny comedy shows) and business (what you do, what we do, what everybody does offstage).

Improv is not just folks talking off the tops of their heads; it's a system of observing, connecting and responding, and applied to businesses, it can make a real difference in productivity, innovation, creativity, support and fun.

We've learned a lot of things training folks from companies like Nike, Intel, 3M, IBM, Apple (and more). And while we can't make all of the connections that you would make in our workshops, the Small Book can give you the top-level view of what we teach:

  • Listening
  • Accepting
  • Supporting
  • Risk-Taking
  • Stakes and Mistakes
  • Connecting
  • Enthusiasm
  • Effective Teams
  • Creating a Safe Space

"The power of Jill and Patrick's message is that it works.  I have seen their "play" reach hundreds of lives. There's a whole lot more possible when we lower our barriers and let the truth of what's in this book sink deep. They not only entertain audiences with improv, they live it. They work it. They teach it. They make us "corporate types" better because of it."

Melinda McGrath, TriQuint Semiconductor

Jill & Patrick's Small Book of Improv for Business gives you the straight info and about 20 exercises for individuals and groups; it's meant to be quick and insightful - without a lot of padding to make it look more important.

How to Buy This Important Book:

  • Hire us for a Professional Development Workshop. You'll get The Small Book for free!
  • Available at the CSz Portland Arena during show hours. 
  • By phone: 503.236.8888
  • By e-mail (office AT We'll call you.
  • Copies are $15.95 (no sales tax) and volume discounts are available.
  • You may also order online at ($15.95 plus applicable tax and shipping)

Yes And Your Customer Service

by Gijs van Bilsen, Joost Kadijk, Cyriel Kortleven with Patrick Short

Improvisation gives you tools so that you can work quickly and creatively in an ever changing world. This book teaches you not only the value of improvisation, but also how to put that value into practice. From an explanation of what improvisation is, to leading improvisation, to improvisation in multi-cultural teams. Whether you're a manager who wants to use the power of improvisation, or a trainer who wants to teach it to other people, this book will give you the theory and the tools to do just that. 

This Special Edition includes an additional chapter on Customer Service, written by Patrick Short.

  • Based on the author's scientific research
  • Over 70 exercises to experience and improve your improvisation skills
  • With contributions from 18 improvisational experts from all over the world
  • Learn how Customer Service is an opportunity, not a cost
  • Learn how one improv performance tool can unlock great Customer Service

How to Buy This Other Important Book:

  • Available at the CSz Portland Arena during show hours. 
  • By phone: 503.236.8888
  • By e-mail (office AT We'll call you.
  • Copies are $25.00 (no sales tax) and volume discounts are available.
  • You may also order online at Create Space ($29.95 plus applicable tax and shipping)

Clients - a Partial List

Private Industry:

Miller Nash
Western National Insurance
Farmer's Insurance
USA Pears
Apple Higher Education
Mentor Graphics
Reed Elsevier
Eli Lilly
TriQuint Semiconductor
McKesson Corporation
FedEx Ground
Nike Talent Development
Nike Innovation
Nike Emerging Markets Sales
Nike North America Brand Organization
Nike CRM
Nike North American Women's Training
Nike Foundation
Nike Global Tennis
Nike Global Socks
Nike Golf
Nike Global Legal
Nike Global Procurement
Nike Kids Footwear
Nike Employee Store
Niketown Marketing
Nike Sportswear
Nike Treasury and Risk Management
Schnitzer Steel
Roberts Kaplan
Gevurtz Menashe
Huron Health
Knowledge Learning Corp / Kindercare
Key Bank / McDonald Financial
RS Medical
US Bancorp
Computer Associates
Portland & Gresham Food4Less
Leupold & Stevens
Robert Half, International
Jacobs Heating and Air Conditioning
Axium Software
Household International
RS Medical
24-Hour Fitness
Solvay Pharmaceuticals
Boise Cascade Office Products
Industrial Gasket, Inc.
Cadence (OrCAD)
Horizon Airlines
Stoel Rives LLP
Will Vinton Studios
KVO Advertising and Public Relations
Griggs-Anderson Research
Chrome Data Corporation
PacStar Communications

Public and Semi-Public:

Oregon Convention Center Staff
US Attorneys, Oregon District
Washington State Attorneys General
Oregon State Association of County Assessors
Camas Public Library
City of Dundee, Oregon
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Oregon Economic and Community Development
Tacoma/Pierce County Employment and Training Consortium
Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (911)
Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency
TriMet Creative Services
TriMet Outreach and Public Relations
TriMet Sales and Marketing
Warm Springs Reservation Head Start
WorkSource (Pierce County, WA)
WorkSource (Longview, Kelso WA)
Oregon Commission on Children and Families
EOC (Head Start) of Clark County
Oregon Health Division
Tillamook Forest Center
USDA Forest Service


St. Luke's Medical System (Idaho)
Kaiser Permanente
Providence Physician's Division
Providence Health System
Blood Systems Laboratories
Providence Portland Medical Center
SW Washington Medical Center
Wilsonville Dental Group
Mind Matters, PC
Richard Gillespie, DDS


Oregon Food Bank Portland Staff
Oregon Food Bank Statewide Network
United Cerebral Palsy
American Cancer Society - Camp Ukandu
Sunset Presbyterian Church
Village Baptist Church
Beaverton Foursquare Church
Oregon Post-Adoption Resource Center
NW Baptist Ministries
East Hill Church
Beaverton Community Theatre
Gladstone Baptist Church


Help Desk Institute
American Society for Training and Development
National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Association


Portland Public Schools
Oregon Thespian Festival
Lincoln County SD
Albina HeadStart
PCC Rock Creek
Cascade Heights Charter School (Milwaukie)
Providence Montessori School
Portland State University
Oregon State University
University of Alaska-Anchorage
Yakima Valley Community College
Banks Elementary School
Conestoga Middle School (Beaverton)
Clatskanie HS Leadership
Kelso HS Drama
Kalama HS Journalism Class
Kalama HS/MS Faculty
Hermiston HS Faculty 
Scappoose Schools Faculty
Westside Christian High School
Wilsonville Primary School Faculty
Hall Elementary Faculty, Gresham
Oregon Episcopal School
Grant HS (Portland)
Arthur Academy
Fruit Valley Foundation
Minds Matter (yes, it's different from Mind Matters)
Vancouver / Clark Parks and Recreation