Conferences like TED or CGI address serious issues, frequently tragic issues. So the question is: is there a role for humor in these events?
At the Citizen’s Award Gala Dinner at CGI 2010 the organizers took a big risk. They added humor to tragedy. It was daring. Would hearing descriptions of the 30 seconds in which 250,000 people died in Haiti right after Ben Stiller and Kevin Spacey mock interview of Clinton work? Would giving a fake award in the mix of giving out some pretty serious awards to people who risk their life for whatever they believe in not seen as rude? Would not the mix be offensive as it was at the last TED I attended with Sarah Silverman picking on the retarded? (here is Sarah Silverman’s view of the event) Or how about adding humor to stories of dilapidated women in Afghanistan? Well as you will see in this video the humor worked. And the key to the success was to keep the humor away from the tragedy. To draw a dividing line between the two. The event was great at alternating, but not mixing humor and tragedy. The same woman you will see in the video at my table, the wife of the Primer Minister of Haiti, who was laughing and raising her hand in approval saying that Haitians are Africans was crying (I did not want to film her then) when the tragedy of the 250K haitians who died in 30 seconds was told. Nina my wife held her hand and it was a very, very sad moment in which I had to hold my own tears.
In the case of my video I chose to focus on the humor. The whole ceremony lasted 3 hours and I think 7 minutes is the most that the Youtube crowd will put up with. So here it goes.