Applied Industrial Strength Humor

Humor is pretty powerful stuff. Here are some of the things I've done for a few of my high-tech clients. Maybe these will inspire you to think about how you could make use of a little "Applied Humor."

For more about humor, have a look at Some Thoughts on Applied Humor"

Day of the Longtail Image Day of the Longtail             (Play Quicktime Movie)
My frequent collaborators Peter Hirshberg and Michael Markman created a presentation for The Computer History Museum about the disruptive nature of technological innovations. We produced several video clips, including this one based on Chris Anderson's book, "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More." A trailer for Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" was our inspiration. On YouTube, "Longtail" has been seen more than 440,000 times.

Father Sarducci Image Apple Sales Conference
Apple Computer -- in the throes of yet another reorganization -- called on me to encourage its sales force to "keep the faith." For a full-day break-out session at their annual sales conference they wanted a "Saturday Night Live" theme. The incomparable Don Pardo narrated my videos, and I collaborated on SNL-style skits to deliver the messages. To put the changes in perspective, I wrote and directed two roll-ins featuring Don Novello, AKA Father Guido Sarducci--a funny guy.

Digital Convergence Image Digital Convergence             (Play Quicktime Movie)
Bill Gates wanted a refreshing way to introduce his speeches about the much-hyped "Information Superhighway," and demonstrate that he and Microsoft were able to laugh about their own zealousness. With writing partner Peter Hirshberg, I created this old fashioned newsreel style video. It finishes with a music video called "Channel Surfin'," based on the Beach Boys' hit "Surfin' USA" (used by permission).

LOVELY Image Here State of the Art             (Play Quicktime Movie)
Following on the success of "Digital Convergence," I wrote and directed this wild satire about Internet frenzy for Bill Gates. It features an original song by yours truly. Woven between the verses are TV parodies of popular tv commercials and an infommercial for "The Web of Wealth." Cameos include Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bill, Paul Allen and Barry Diller. The video won 7 great awards, and the San Francisco Chronicle ran a huge story on the video headlined "Meet Bill Gates: Stand-Up Comic."

LOVELY Image Here Online             (Play Quicktime Movie)
Once again, Bill Gates needed a funny movie about the Internet and his people wanted me to stick to the same formula I'd used successfully before: celebrity cameos, jokes about current events, TV commercial parodies, a witty song, etc. I wove the story around a parody of the Petula Clark hit song "Downtown" (with permission of Tony Hatch, the original composer). Great fun to work with Danny DeVito, Dennis Rodman, Tom Brokaw, Bill, and the others in our cast.

LOVELY Image Here Own It!
A new Division Manager, a new policy on Macintosh clones. I introduced both to Apple Computer's sales force at a worldwide sales conference with this wacky take-off of a Michael Jackson music video. Songs are a great way to reinforce a message and make people feel good, but business musicals shouldn't be serious, they have to be funny.

LOVELY Image Here History of Communication
A start-up company wanted to create some buzz at a tradeshow prior to their product announcement--but they didn't want to give away their plans. The video was to be shown in their booth, so the client was concerned about sound. My solution was to write a "silent movie" using old footage and titles to contrast "old" ways of communicating with the promise of the new solution. My favorite line describes the telegraph as "Point and click. And click. And click. And click..."

LOVELY Image Here Intel Sales Conference Session
Intel asked me to develop concepts, scripts and some videos for portions of a Worldwide Sales Conference. They had some ideas; I had some others. We collaborated to deliver a smash-hit session: I did the funny stuff, they handled the serious info. As always, there were a lot of new buzzwords and acronyms for the sales folks to absorb, so I created a Man-On-The-Street video to show that even "Ordinary People" can grok the lingo.

LOVELY Image Here Easy To Use
The computer industry has long hyped its products as "easy to use" -- but we all know better. Bill Gates wanted to remind his Comdex keynote audience how baffling technology can be to "real people," so I was asked to create several video roll-ins for his speech. This one includes a montage of scenes from commercials and videos and man-on-the-street interviews by the incomparable Mal Sharpe

LOVELY Image Here Pen Computing
Palm Computing's President, Donna Dubinsky, asked me to create a funny video to introduce a speech at the prestigious Demo conference. I worked with Donna's staff to develop a twisted history of pen computing that put her company's product in perspective. The biggest challenge was to find existing footage about the subject and figure out how to use it in funny ways. Donna's speech was named "Best of Show," and she gives this video much of the credit for that distinction.

LOVELY Image Here Perils of Procurement
Launching a new company is serious business but PowerMarket, Inc. asked me to create a funny video for their company's debut at PCForum. They wanted to make sure the event would be unforgettable -- even if they couldn't say much about their still-secret product. I devised a "movie trailer" made from old stock footage that identified the market and the issues that PowerMarket's solutions would address.

LOVELY Image Here The Adventures of Start-Up Guy             (Play Quicktime Movie)
Venture capitalists need to sell their services to entrepreneurs -- a bagfull of money isn't enough to do the trick. Accel Partners wanted to show entrepreneurs that it knows about the challenges they face and "feels their pain." I devised this tall tale about Start-Up Guy, who literally jumps through hoops to launch a new business. Several well-known Silicon Valley folks, including Accel's partners, show him how the game is really played.

LOVELY Image Here Browsers on Broadway             (Play Quicktime Movie)
Microsoft's developer relations group wanted a way to show Web site builders that Microsoft understands the issues they face. The client confessed to be rather fond of Broadway musicals. I proposed "Browsers On Broadway," and wrote four original songs, structuring the piece like a movie trailer. I had to cover "Push" technology, security, acronyms and jargon, and how the Internet pervades our culture. This video won 10 lovely awards.

Definitely © 2009 Bob Kalsey ALL RIGHTS RESERVED