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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.

Light Humor Award 2007

Light Humor Award 2007

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For those who'd like to know where I've been for the last two weeks...

Every year, the College of Business has a Faculty Awards Day ceremony, at which prizes are given for Teacher of the Year, Oustanding Research, etc.  There is also a tradition of something called the "Light Humor Award," which is basically an opportunity tell an extended joke under the guise of presenting an award to someone.

One day back in 1996, a day or two before the ceremony, I had an idea for a Light Humor Award and got permission to give it.  The following year, everyone asked me, "What do you have planned for this year?"  And so I have been writing, presenting (and sometimes even singing) the Light Humor Award every year (but one) since then.  I just presented the 2007 version this morning; the full text appears further below.  (I'd been planning not to do it this year, and got talked into it only two weeks ago, so it's been a very hectic fourteen days.)

Here are the awards I gave over the years:

  • 1996: Order of the Friendly Fire (came on as military officer presenting a medal).
  • 1997: Prisoner of the Year (came on in prison stripes).
  • 1998: Never Say Never Again Award (came on as James Bond).
  • 1999: Lawgiver Award (came on as Moses).
  • 2000: Those Magic Changes Award (came on as a 50’s rocker and sang).
  • 2001: Sword of Triumph (came on as a Viking).
  • 2002: 
    • College of Business: Gold Medal, Olympic Marathon Oral Communications Event (came on in a track suit).
    • School of Technology: Captain Nemo Award (presented a wet suit).
  • 2003: Sole Survivor Award (came on as Jeff Probst)
  • 2004: Banana Boat Award (sang a warped version of “Banana Boat”)
  • 2006: Godfather Award (came on as Don Corleone)
  • 2007: First Lord of the Admiralty Award (came on as Joseph Porter, K.C.B.)
And here’s the full text of what I did today (Janice was at the piano).  C.O.B. stands for College of Business, and the recipient of the award was the new Dean.
Presenting the Light Humor Award is a task that requires a rich imagination, a loud voice, and no small measure of pomposity. Therefore I – remain the person presenting the Award.   With today’s presentation, I have filled that role for eleven years.
I am very pleased to be able to present this Award in person, because I have been informed, by highest authority, that I may not use e-mail, telephone, public folders or any other electronic medium to present this Award, nor may I post the Award in a public place, nor use code numbers for the Award of less than seventeen digits. Therefore I must present the Award in person. Of course, to maintain confidentiality, you will all have to leave while I present the Award – unless, of course, you are employees of SAS, in which case, no doubt, you already know the complete contents of the Award.
We have substantially redesigned the process for the Light Humor Award. Light Humor will be judged based on a matrix of six separate criteria. Each of these criteria will be divided into seven sub-criteria. Each sub-criterion will be subdivided into six sub-sub-criteria. Each campus will decide how it wishes the sub-criteria to be measured; however, the sub-sub criteria will be determined by the University Administration only, in a document not to be shown to any member of the faculty. Once per year we will hold a mandatory meeting in which we will assure you that everything is fine, and we will post all relevant information on a Public Folder you will not be able to find. Then, of course, I will decide the recipient of the Light Humor Award all by myself.
I will be measuring the success of this Award by judging audience retention. If you are all still in your seats at the end of the Award, I will deem it a success.
As First Lord of the Admiralty, I want you to know that I have a Vision for the Admiralty – no, no, excuse me, that’s not correct. I don’t have a Vision; I have a Focus. Of course, if you can’t Focus you don’t really have Vision – that is, I’m wearing this monocle to Focus my Vision, and I think my Vision is well-Focused.
As you might have guessed from the presence of the able-bodied sailor sitting to my left, this will be a musical number. We originally had plans for a line of sailors to dance a hornpipe, but unfortunately they wanted union rates.
Now the specifications for this production require a chorus, and under the Seaman’s Impressment Act of 1782, you have all been recruited to serve in the chorus. In this production, I, of course, will be the First Lord of the Admiralty, and you will be my sisters and my cousins and my aunts.    On several occasions during the number, my lovely assistant Mr. Fruzzetti will hold up a set of lyrics. (Gesture to Tony, who holds up ADVERTISING placard; shakes head.)
When he does so, you are to SING. Is that understood? Capitol.
In each case, I will sing a line and you will follow. There are two different melodies.
The first one goes like this (Maestra?):
(Janice plays.)
So I might sing,
“I’m forcing you to sing when you would rather not.”
And then you sing,
            He’s forcing me to sing when I would rather not!
The other melody goes like this:
(Janice plays.)
But this one is trickier, because the melody I sing is different.
So I might sing,
“If I make you do this again,
You’ll have to make arrangements for replacing Ken.”
And you would then sing the slightly different tune:
            If he makes me do this again,
            I’ll have to make arrangements for replacing Ken!
Very good.
Now then: We have an able sailor at the piano; we have a lovely assistant with placards; we have a chorus of sisters, cousins and aunts. All we need now is – DAVID MITCHELL.
(Hand him telescope.)

(To the tune of "When I Was a Lad (And Now I Am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy)", from H.M.S. Pinafore):
When I was a lad I tended bar
And catered to executives from near and far.
I smiled whenever a tippler spoke
And I’d toast them with a Captain and a Diet Coke.
(He’d toast them with a Captain and a Diet Coke!)
I’d toast them all so earnestly
That now I am the leader of the C.O.B.
(He’d toast them all so earnestly
that now he is the leader of the C.O.B.!)
From Sampataco, McKean’s, and U Mass too,
I selected highly difficult research to do:
Instead of Sociology or ancient Gaul,
I investigated television basketball.
            (He investigated television basketball!)
I studied television so carefully
That now I am the leader in the C.O.B.
(He studied television so carefully
that now he is the leader of the C.O.B!)
While teaching I came to surmise
That socializing was the way to rise.
I laughed at all the jokes Irv made
And lost at golf whenever Bowen played.
            (He lost at golf whenever Bowen played!)
I lost at golf so graciously
That now I am the leader of the C.O.B.
            (He lost at golf so graciously
            that how he is the leader of the C.O.B!)
Soon I was sent to distant lands,
Becoming indispensable as right-hand man.
Temporarily they gave me charge of marketing,
And honestly I told them I don’t know a thing.
            (And honestly he told them he don’t know a thing!)
I knew so little, they rewarded me
By making me the leader of the C.O.B.
(He knew so little, they rewarded he
By making him the leader of the C.O.B.)
Our meetings end not half begun
‘Cause too much information takes away the fun.
I sketch the broadest possible plan
And then I leave the details to annoy Joanne.
            (And then he leaves the details to annoy Joanne!)
From details I remain so free
That I’m the perfect leader for the C.O.B.
            (From details he remains so free
            that he’s the perfect leader for the C.O.B.!)
(More slowly)
Professors all, if you want to atone
For all those awful lectures in an office all your own,
If you’d like to have to answer when Clif Boyle’s on the phone,
I’ll give you tips and tactics known to me alone.
            (He’ll give us tips and tactics known to he alone!)
If you never wear a tie, and your bosses like to leave,
You’ll be stuck here as the leaders of the C.O.B.
            (If we never wear a tie, and our bosses like to leave,
            We’ll be stuck here as the leaders of the C.O.B.)


  • This cracked me up when I got to part of you as Joseph Porter. Wow..acting, singing, everything but dance. That would have made you a triple threat if you had stayed on stage. I loved H.M.S. Pinifor with Porter singing When I was Lad. You did this whole production in 2 weeks? I can just picture the audience singing in response. Very clever.
    • Thanks, Rachel. Wellllll, I think the audience forgives you the quality of your acting when you wrote it yourself, and they forgive you the quality of your writing when you write it yourself. Truth is, I'm an average actor, a below-average singer, and an awful dancer; but in this small pond in which I swim, I'm a "talent." If we all still lived in little villages, I'd be the village storyteller.
  • Loved the wit! I hope the faculty and administration appreciates your humor as much as we do!

    And why oh why couldn't my college years have included such fun professors? The only humorous musical moment I recall involved students singing, "Every Step You Take" by The Police to the Dean of Students. Amusing, but obviously not subtle or sly wit.
    • Thanks, Joia.

      Actually we don't do stuff like this around the students; it might be taken the wrong way. Who knows what your professors did when you weren't around?
  • Big grin on my face while I read this (just glad no-one was around to see my lips move as I went through the song). Very clever!
  • Awesome.

    I don't know why that makes me think of Dad, but I think it would have tickled him to no end :-).
    • Yes, I think it would. I think he'd've liked the whole "Light Humor Award" routine. He liked G&S and he liked satire, and he certainly liked ribbing people. Miss him.
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