“The Improvisation of Life ”
June 5, 2023: In an episode of the “Shooting It Raw” podcast, the host Ran Elfassy and I chatted about improv, Applied Improvisation, “The Playground of Possibilities”, ChatGPT, marketing, and life in Hong Kong.
Watch the video

“Facilitating with Stories”
I contributed two chapters to the book “Facilitating with Stories: Ethics, Reflective Practice and Philosophies”, edited by Andrew Rixon and Cathryn Lloyd. For workshop facilitators, I offered step-by-step instructions for two Applied Improvisation activities that I developed.
More >

Improv Strengthens Leaders & Teams

March 27, 2022: What does improv have to do with business, leadership, teamwork and sales? A lot! I explain it in this interview.

“Lead with Levity” Podcast, January 2022

In episode 68 of the “Lead with Levity” podcast by organisational psychologist Dr. Heather Walker, we chatted about my work/play as an Applied Improvisation facilitator and as the Head Tour Guide in The Playground of Possibilities.
Listen here.

“PechaKucha Night”

At the PechaKucha Night Hong Kong event on September 20, 2019, I spoke on the topic of “Life is an Improvisation Game”. 
PechaKucha events happen in many cities around the world. There are 8-10 speakers each time, and each speaker has just 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide = 6m 40s.
Here’s the video.

"Unscripted" TEDx Talk and Improv Performance

I was a speaker at the TEDx event at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on March 10, 2018. The theme was “Unscripted”, and I spoke about improv and my concept of “The Playground of Possibilities”.
Here's the video.
I also performed a 16-minute improv set with two of my improv friends, Christopher Coleman and Namrata Bindra (we called ourselves TEDxcellent Improv).
Here's the video of that.

“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 4”

Here's Part 4 in my series of blog posts about improv, applied improvisation and related topics, with a lengthy list of lots of useful resources.
More >

Creativity and Improvisation

Here's my blog post about the book "Creativity, Inc." by Ed Catmull of Pixar Animation. It seems to me that much of what he writes about creativity and the Pixar culture is actually about approaching things with an improvisational mindset.

Improvisation for Personal Development and Healing

I presented a 90-minute experiential workshop (twice!) at the international conference of the Applied Improvisation Network in Montreal, Canada, September 24-27, 2015. The title of my workshop was “Life is a Playground of Possibilities – Improvising More Resourceful, Joyful Ways of Being”.
More >

I Love Improv
On July 12-13, 2012, I attended the "Thriving in Uncertainty" conference in Melbourne, Australia, about using improv in corporate training. Then on July 16, 2012, I co-taught a one-day workshop about improvisation for acting and directing students at Toi Whakaari, New Zealand's national drama school, in Wellington. My fellow teacher was Andrew McMasters from Seattle, Washington, USA. Here's my blog post about the conference.

Chaos is Good!

On May 24, 2012, I participated in some improvised fun at the TEDx MongKok event here in Hong Kong. The theme of the day was Chaos, so here's a video of a short talk by Professor Kay Ottik (i.e., me!) about Chaos. 

Kay's Podcasts

Are you a performer? And do you want to know how to get media coverage for your next show? Listen to my series of FREE audio interviews with three Hong Kong journalists, who share their insiders' tips.
More >

"Thank you so much for the stand-up comedy performance, it was very entertaining and make the dining gathering more merrier."
I Made Benny Artha, organiser of the CouchSurfing gathering in Bali where I performed stand-up comedy (December 29, 2008)

"I must say that even though you didn't have many lines, your bit was probably one of the best. It almost moved me to tears when your son carried you up to your room."
From an audience member at The Full Monty (Hong Kong Singers, November 2007)

"...you have a wonderful presence on stage sure and steady and just there, fully yes"
From an audience member at Emotional Baggage (American Community Theater, May 2006)

"And Kay Ross shone as the Fairy."
From a review by Andrew Lynch of the Hong Kong Players Christmas panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in the South China Morning Post, December 10, 1994

“It was one of the best classes (if not the best) class that I’ve ever had in university. Truly enjoyed it! (Could we have more classes likes this?)”
From a participant in an Applied Improvisation workshop that I taught for students of innovation and entrepreneurship at a university in Hong Kong, April 2014

You are here: Home > Performing

All The World's A Stage...

Do you need an actor, improviser, Applied Improvisation trainer, MC, guest speaker or storyteller for your play, film, commercial, party, corporate training programme, video, conference, PR event...? Call me!

I'm Kay Ross in Hong Kong, and I LOVE watching, participating in, teaching and marketing the performing arts.

Check out my performing arts CV and my fab photo gallery, then contact me today if you need my services.

A multi-talented performer

As a teenager in Adelaide, Australia, I was a member of a youth theatre group called The Saturday Company for four years; sang in the choir and performed in theatre productions at Adelaide Girls' High School, and sang in the choir and studied Drama (history, theory and performance) for one year at Adelaide University.

Since then, I've done countless workshops in acting, Playback Theatre, improvisation, stand-up comedy, singing, dancing, clowning...

When I was based in Edinburgh, Scotland, from August 1979 to October 1980, I performed in some amateur theatre productions, including one in the 1980 Fringe Festival.

In Hong Kong, I've been involved in lots of shows with the Hong Kong Players, Hong Kong Singers, American Community Theater, Kassia Women's Choir and other groups - I've performed onstage and/or helped with publicity or stage management.

I've also done some professional acting gigs: I was an extra in a local feature film; played Margaret Thatcher in a TV commercial; appeared as Mrs Santa Claus in a Christmas promotion in several shopping-malls; was a story-teller for local kindergarten students; and acted in an online promotional video for a group of Hong Kong hotels.

I also speak French, so I've performed many roles as a cheeky French maid. Ooh la la!

I devised, directed and performed in some improvised stunts as part of the TEDxMongKok event in Hong Kong on May 24, 2012. The theme of the day was “Chaos”. In the morning, we had a group of actors playing various characters, interacting with the delegates. Then in the afternoon, we presented a fake but very believable TED talk about chaos by "Professor Kay Ottik" (me!). Here's the 6-minute video.  

On March 10, 2018, with my friends Christopher Coleman and Namrata Bindra, I performed in an improv set as part of the TEDxHKPolyU event at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The theme of the whole event was “Unscripted”, and we called ourselves TEDxcellent Improv. Here’s the video (16m 5s).

The healing power of laughter

I’m a member of People's Liberation Improv (PLI), an English-language comedy improvisation troupe founded in 2008 and based in Hong Kong. We perform comedy improv shows featuring unscripted, improvised-on-the-spot scenes inspired by suggestions from you, the audience (think “Whose Line is it Anyway?”). Not suitable for children.

We’ve performed at many venues in Hong Kong, and at improv festivals in Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul.

Our Next Live Show:

To be confirmed.

Contact me if you have any questions about PLI.

Applied Improvisation
- Using improv as a training tool 

“Applied Improvisation” means taking the principles, skills and mindset of improv offstage, and applying them in life and work. And they absolutely do apply, because like improv, life and business don't come with a script!

I explain more in this article: “Interview with Kay Ross – How Improv can Strengthen Leaders & Teams” from Milestone|3, a leadership training and consulting firm in Hong Kong.

So I offer tailor-made training workshops for corporate clients, universities and community groups, giving them a fun, hands-on, practical and immediately applicable experience of approaching life and work with an improvisational mindset. Not your typical training lecture with PowerPoint slides! And don’t panic - it’s not about performing or being funny, and no acting or improv experience is required.

Why hire me to lead a workshop? Because you and your team will build your skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, public speaking, emotional intelligence, creativity, innovation, experimentation, intelligent risk-taking, trust, presence, resilience, resourcefulness, nimble responsiveness to change and the unexpected... And because of that, you and your organisation will be more likely to thrive in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

Around the world, Applied Improvisation trainers/facilitators like me work with clients in such fields as business, education, government, healthcare, coaching, therapy, youth work, the military and police forces, conflict resolution, disaster preparedness and response, community development…

Here's a very short video of me leading an Applied Improvisation workshop  (on Facebook and on YouTube) for entrepreneurs and staff at theDesk co-working space in Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, on March 22, 2019. The last bit of the video is me being interviewed about Applied Improvisation and the venue.

See my TEDx talk (March 10, 2018) about how life is an improvisation game and a playground of possibilities (15m 8s). The theme of the whole day was “Unscripted”.

At the PechaKucha Night Hong Kong event on September 20, 2019, I spoke on the topic of “Life is an Improvisation Game”, and gave several examples of Applied Improvisation projects around the world. PechaKucha events happen in many cities worldwide. There are 8-10 speakers each time, and each speaker has just 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide = 6m 40s.
Here’s the video.

Curious? Want to know more about hiring me? Contact me

My experience as an Applied Improvisation trainer includes:

  • Since June 2011 I’ve given many talks and led or co-led many public and private workshops in Hong Kong; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand, and Wellington, New Zealand.

    Clients have included a global hotel company, a global insurance company, universities, a global data analytics company, a company that manages serviced apartments around Asia, New Zealand's national drama school, a department of the Hong Kong Government that focuses on innovation, a company that runs musical-theatre summer camps for children, a branding/graphic design firm, a bank, business networking organisations, non-profit organisations... Participants have included teenagers and adults.


    “It was one of the best classes (if not the best) class that I’ve ever had in university. Truly enjoyed it! (Could we have more classes likes this?)”

    “The idea of “Yes, and...” will definitely help open up more opportunities for me at school, at work and in life.”

    “This is just a quick note to thank you personally for all the great work you did on our programme this week as well as your warm and lovely facilitation. We found the activities well focused on the ideas we wanted to highlight, and we found that your debriefing really brought home the relevant issues and your presence and supportive approach was taken very positively by the participants.”

    “Kay held a half-day workshop with our entire team, using improv as a way to cultivate greater collaboration and creativity... We were immensely pleased with the outcome, with all participants saying they found the training very useful, with techniques that they will apply in their daily work. While it’s not immediately obvious, improv techniques are very applicable in a business setting and I highly recommend Kay.”

    “Your Improv session was very interesting and inspiring, and it really got me thinking about how I should react to the world around me.”
  • I gave two presentations at the regional conference of the international Applied Improvisation Network in Manila, the Philippines, in July 2013. The sessions were titled “Making the Case for Applied Improv”, about how companies and organisations around the world are using applied improvisation, and “How to Sell an Applied Improv Program”, about how to make a convincing case to potential clients.
  • Combining my skills and interest in improv and personal development, I presented a workshop (twice), titled “Life is a Playground of Possibilities: Improvising More Resourceful, Joyful Ways of Being”, at the international conference of the Applied Improvisation Network near Montreal, Canada (September 2015). I've also presented the same workshop, as a public event, in Hong Kong (April 2016 and November 2017) and Darwin, Australia (May 2016).


    “The work you do and person that you are exemplifies the thriving life and future I imagine and aspire to.”

    “As a facilitator, you are fun, engaging and able to get your point across, without imposing your views. I enjoyed every part of the session and am now putting what I learned into practice.”
  • I also organised and promoted a public workshop, “The Wisdom of Play”, led by visiting American improviser and trainer Gary Schwartz in Hong Kong (March 2014).

So what qualifies me to be an Applied Improvisation trainer?

  • I've been an actor since I was teenager, I studied Drama for one year at university, I performed stand-up comedy for four years, and I've performed with Hong Kong-based English-language improv troupe People’s Liberation Improv since March 2008.
  • I’ve attended regional and global conferences of the Applied Improvisation Network in Melbourne, Australia; Manila, the Philippines; Berlin, Germany; and Montreal, Canada.
  • I’m also a Marketing Consultant, Editor and Copywriter, so I understand business.
  • I have over 20 years’ experience designing and presenting corporate training workshops about marketing, copywriting, PR, social media and the concept of “Content Marketing” (i.e., using storytelling and emotions in marketing material).
  • I’ve also attended many workshops about such topics as personal development, emotional intelligence, bodywork, healing, public speaking, entrepreneurship, marketing, communication, psychology, training, facilitation, coaching and storytelling.

Here are some blog posts I've written about Applied Improvisation:

“Thriving in Uncertainty – The Promise of Improv”, about the applied improvisation conference in Melbourne and my trip to Wellington in July 2012

“How To Succeed In Business: Improvise!”

“34 Reasons To Learn Improv”

“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation…”, which includes a link to a no-cost list of resources by many people that I compiled

“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 2” - MORE resources

“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 3” - even MORE resources

“Improvising More Resourceful, Joyful Ways of Being” - about the workshop I presented at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference in Montreal, September 2015 (written before the event)

“New Choice” – about one of the games we played in the workshop I presented at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference in Montreal

"Creativity and Improvisation" - about the book "Creativity, Inc." by Ed Catmull of Pixar Animation. It seems to me that much of what he writes about creativity and the Pixar culture is actually about approaching things with an improvisational mindset.

“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 4” - yes, with even MORE resources

So if you’d like me to show you and your team how to approach life and business with an improvisational mindset, contact me.

Stand-up comedy

From February 2007 to July 2011, I regularly performed my own original stand-up comedy material at the TakeOut Comedy Club here in Hong Kong.

For a taste of my stand-up style, check out this YouTube video of my performance at the late-night show at the Club on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2009 (thanks to cameraman James Foreman).

I’ve also performed stand-up comedy at other venues and events in Hong Kong; New York City; Honolulu, Hawaii; Tucson, Arizona; Wellington, New Zealand; Bali, Indonesia; Pune, India; and Mumbai, India.

And there's more...

All of my performing arts experience helps me to be a more effective marketer, editor, writer, trainer and public speaker, so YOU’LL get better results. For example:

  • I present public training seminars about marketing and media relations that are particularly popular with visual and performing artists and arts organisations.
  • I used to be the Listings Editor at the South China Morning Post newspaper - for six years I compiled the daily listings of what was on around town (e.g., performing and visual arts shows, arthouse films, community events etc.). So I know what journalists want and need. 
  • Ive written or edited all sorts of marketing communications material about the performing and visual arts.
  • For 25 years I edited the English-language publicity blurbs about the shows and events at the Hong Kong Fringe Club, our leading alternative arts venue.
  • Ive done lots of paid or volunteer work on marketing campaigns for performing arts shows and events - I was the professional publicist for the 1986 Adelaide Fringe Festival, and have helped with marketing and front-of-house duties for many shows in Hong Kong.
  • Watching and performing in shows helps me to understand human psychology and behaviour (and that helps me with my healing work too).

So if you're looking for someone with my unique combination of talents, please contact me today.


First Name
Last Name

Onstage at the TakeOut Comedy Club Hong Kong with US comedian
Shecky Wong
March 3, 2007

With proprietor Wanda Shipp at Sharkey's Comedy Club, Honolulu, after I performed at the open-mic night there
September 20, 2007

Performing in the "Funniest Person in Hong Kong" contest
TakeOut Comedy Club Hong Kong
October 20, 2007

Onstage at the TakeOut Comedy Club Hong Kong
February 10, 2007

Performing at a CouchSurfing gathering
December 29, 2008

Performing with Sean Coleman in a comedy improvisation show by People's Liberation Improv at the
TakeOut Comedy Club Hong Kong
October 15, 2009
Photo by Kenneth Lim

People's Liberation Improv, with Jami Gong, founder/owner of the TakeOut Comedy Club, and his dog Lucky
TakeOut Comedy Club
April 2010

Performing stand-up comedy at the Open Mic night at the Prithvi Theatre Cafe, Mumbai, India
August 24, 2010

Me in my new PLI t-shirt
Hong Kong
March 10, 2011

Me in my PLI t-shirt at the Great Wall
Mutianyu, Beijing, China
April 25, 2011

At PLI's "Life Is An Improvisation Game" talk/workshop
Hong Kong Fringe Club
June 28, 2011

With participants in the one-day improv workshop that I co-taught
Toi Whakaari, New Zealand's national drama school, Wellington
July 16, 2012

Me outside the Fringe Bar after performing stand-up comedy at the open mic night
Wellington, New Zealand
July 16, 2012

Me performing in a People's Liberation Improv show at the
Manila Improv Festival
Manila, The Philippines
June 30, 2013

Me with co-presenter Paul Falconer at the "Improv Your Life" workshop
Hong Kong
July 15, 2013

At an applied improvisation workshop at the Entrepreneurship Winter School, The University of Hong Kong,
January 9, 2014

Participating in the
No Pants Subway Ride,
Hong Kong
January 12, 2014

Performing the "4 Rooms" game with People's Liberation Improv,
Hong Kong
July 11, 2014

Me in action in the Hong Kong International Improv Festival
March 2015 

Me performing in an international jam
at the Manila Improv Festival
July 10, 2015

At the international conference of the Applied Improvisation Network
Blueberry Lake Resort
near Montreal, Canada
September 24-27, 2015
Photo by Alex Tran

Me with the legendary improv teacher Charna Halpern from Chicago, at the Shanghai International Improv Festival
November 8, 2015