In the realm of public speaking, it’s tough for anyone (even accomplished speakers) not to make mistakes. In my current line of work (radio) I have to voice commercials, promotional spots, and public affairs features. Every year, someone at the radio station assembles a “blooper reel” for our annual Xmas party (which, oddly enough, takes place in June). When the blooper reel is played, we all laugh at the flubs, the mess-ups, and the insane amount of swearing that occurs when so-called professionals screw up. If you want to try it at home, take any piece of ad copy from a newspaper or Internet site and read it like you’re a spokesperson for the product. Need some help? Okay, here’s what we in the biz call a “straight read” ad. No sound effects, no multiple voices, no characters, just an announcer getting people interested in buying tickets to a live show at a local theater:
VALLEY PERFORMANING ARTS 4/21/08 TO 5/1/08
â€œEd Garpo Inflatable Theater Co.â€
(MUSIC SHOULD BE UPBEAT AND COMICAL)
HILARIOUS … FAST-PACED … AND OH, SO CLEVER! YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY WILL LAUGH AND BE AMAZED AT THE FANTASTIC VISUAL COMEDY OF THE â€œED GARPO INFLATABLE THEATER COMPANY.â€ YOUâ€™LL LOVE THE JUGGLING, DANCING, AND AMAZING INFLATABLE SUITS WORN BY THE PERFORMERS THAT BLOW UP INTO ALL KINDS OF SHAPES AND SIZES! ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY ON APRIL 27TH AT 2PM AT THE RIVERHEAD THEATER IN THE VALLEY! PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE AT â€œVALLEY PERFORMING ARTS DOT ORG.â€ DISCOUNT TICKETS FOR STUDENTS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR 11-DOLLARS AT â€œVALLEY PERFORMING ARTS DOT ORG.â€
Give it a shot and see if you can read it without blowing a word, a line, or even losing the flavor of the read. Some of you will probably do just fine, while others will clearly see that it’s not easy to do this in one take. If this commercial was done live, then you would have to rehearse your script over and over prior to the “On Air” light going on.
I bring all of this up because Popdose’s Editor-in-Chief mailed me a CD that contains 22:55 of George W. Bush basically being Bush when it comes to public speaking. Bushspeak Volume 2: Fore More Years is one of those CDs whose shelf life is pretty short, so they’ve gotta make some money before the next president gets sworn in in 2009. Unfortunately for the producers of Bushspeak, I think the timing of this CD is off. I don’t think we need a “Greatest Hits” CD to remind us what a fuckup Bush is â€” we’ve had the past 8 years to see it first hand. There’s certainly a laundry list I could trot out (and who knows, it might make a good Top 10 list), but really, this CD is about Bush’s failures in public speaking. It’s about a guy who really doesn’t prepare for his speeches, or if he does prepare, how he is quite adept at putting his foot in his mouth. Politicians will always make gaffes, and the press and comedy writers will be there to point out the fact that emperor has no clothes. However, I think this example from Bushspeak illustrate that being ill-prepared and flat out making an ass of yourself are two different things:
“Bushspeak on History” (download)
This is a painful CD to listen to, but it’s supposed to elicit laughs (or groans) for those who like political humor. Personally, I like my political humor with a nice twist of Colbert, or even stirred with a whisper of Stewart. When the butt of the joke is presented without any setup, it’s just a smelly hunk of ass that may make one chuckle as they cover their nose and run out of the room. Unfortunately for the creators of Bushspeak, they have a product that’s a blooper reel of a “Johnny One Note,” and, well, like the title of this post says: that joke isn’t funny anymore.