March 17; Humor Is Difficult To Execute But It Is Possible With The Right Team
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
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17 March

A happy heart makes the face cheerful…

Proverbs 15:13a

Humor Is Difficult To Execute But It Is Possible With The Right Team

Delectare et Docere

David Gergen was a young aide with a daunting assignment while working for President Nixon.  His job: Make the televised 1972 Republican National Convention interesting. To make the conservative Grand Old Party — funny? His mission was, in effect, “to please and to instruct.”

The convention leadership understood that sophisticated stagecraft was needed to keep a large television audience entertained. Gergen’s job was to get this done.

Gergen was the ‘go to guy’ for execution but humor done on a big stage was a challenge. He was never known as a ‘funny man’ in a warm-up act and never would be.

But there was hope.

Bob Hope.

Gergen worked his Rolodex and was able to hire Bob Hope’s comedy teamsters. These professionals knew how to craft light-hearted one-liners. The plan was to have the joke writers watch the convention on a remote feed and provide instant comedic feedback. (Gergen, 2000)

The real-time gag lines would be phoned in to Gergen. He would hurriedly hand carry and hand off these off-the-cuff remarks up to the next speaker as he ascended the podium.

Mark Twain once said that, “It takes three weeks to prepare a good ad-lib speech.” Gergen’s joke writers had perhaps three minutes to make the orators look brilliant.

And they did. The “impromptu” quips got the cheers and made for a happy crowd.

As Proverbs 15:13a says, A happy heart makes the face cheerful…

The convention was a blockbuster success on television. Gergen got it done. The president was re-elected.

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