Weird humor at Fed 100
The comedy act at yesterday's Fed 100 dinner was unconventional -- at least to some extent. Paula Poundstone did an improv thing that was centered around picking out people mostly in the front row near the podium and asking them questions that then served as a foil for jokes she developed in real time. I admired her ability to react quickly to what she heard with often-humorous repartee, but some of the comments struck me more as laughing at people than laughing with them. She was unusually ill-informed about the audience -- she seemed to think that the recent business merger involved the companies sponsoring the Fed 100, not 1105 Media and the PostNewsweek Tech Media Group. So she appeared to believe that everyone in the audience was directly affected by the merger. She didn't seem to have down such basic categories as "government" and "industry."
She seemed a particular enemy of earnestness, as when Karen Evans answered her question about how Karen had gotten her job by saying, "Producing results." I understand that one job of a humorist is to pinprick earnestness, but we have enough journalists and others currently denigrating the earnestness of career public servants that I'm not sure what we needed out of last night's humor was more of that.
I should add that I was myself near the front and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible so she wouldn't call on me -- which she didn't. I don't even want to think about what a field day she would have had with a Harvard professor.
Posted by Steve Kelman on Mar 27, 2007 at 12:08 PM