Speakers' circuit is latest joke

Funny, corporately speaking, has become big business. While Peter Holland can be assured there are still places on the speakers’ circuit for the serious MC, the wise-cracker gets the bigger round of applause.

Case study 1: Comic Rodney Marks pulled off a great gag posing as a wheel-chair-bound psychiatrist examining staff at a conference in sunny Noosa.

He was hired by a group of Optus managers who were concerned that their young team was overconfident in the battle with Telstra for market share, reported Melbourne’s Sunday Age.

Funnyman Marks fooled staff into pushing him up and down hills and in and out of conference venues as he went about his business ‘assessing staff’ over three days.

On his lap, hidden under a blanket, was a container apple juice which Marks periodically sprinkled over his casually-attired helpers’ sandals.

The young delegates, remaining respectful to their visiting, ‘disabled’ guest, not once complained – despite believing urine was leaking over them.

Case study 2: Professional hoaxer Homer Papantonio, pretending to be Bill Gates’ offsider, once gave a long talk on the Bon Bon fish which, he claimed, always swims around the same cluster of coral instead of taker a wider, more ambitious view of life.

When he confessed to delegates the fish was a product of his imagination, they wouldn’t believe that he was now telling the truth.

Apparently what is contributing to the change in the speakers’ landscape is the rise of Generation X-ers with youthful funny bones and wise-cracking antics.

A lot of preparation goes into getting the act right for each audience and comedians’ fees range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars a time, says Perth speakers’ manager Cheri Gardiner, who sometimes is commissioned by companies to fly in big-name out-of-towners.

Suddenly, Briefcase — an occasional (but lively) speaker on communications et al — feels a funny line coming on.

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