Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to win tonight's presidential debate

CNN’s live coverage of the last presidential debate featured a graph at the bottom of the screen showing the continuous reaction of focus group respondents. The candidates would speak and two lines (one for men and the other women) would inch up or down depending on whether these dial twirling lab rats liked or didn’t like what was being said (assuming they understood what was being said, not an automatic assumption).

Obama and Romney were being subjected to the same scrutiny given to the pilot of THE NEIGHBORS.

As the creator and producer of a number of TV pilots I am all-too familiar with this highly accurate method of determining something’s worth. I have been on the other side of the one-way glass while forty nimrods who looked like the cast of THE WALKING DEAD twisted their little spinners while judging my creative baby. On the monitor above my head was the show with the running graphs. That joke suffered a 3% dip and women appreciated that line 7.3% more than men. Art reduced to a spreadsheet.

Producers learn to manipulate the system of course and construct their pilots specifically to win focus groups’ favor. Writing a sharper joke is not nearly as important as getting that waitress to wear a Wonder Bra.

So for tonight's debate I offer the candidates a couple of suggestions for improving your test scores.  Our Commander-in-Chief, in particular, would do well to pay attention.

Cartwheels are huge. Focus groups love ‘em! You could be proposing a 50% tax hike and if it’s in the midst of a nifty acrobatic move your graph will shoot through the roof.

Crossing your eyes is a sure-fire crowd pleaser. Saying the word “hooters” will elevate any statement on Iran’s disturbing threat to world peace.

Take a moment in laying out your solution to the unemployment crisis to introduce the audience to your new puppy.

Get choked up. Doesn’t matter of over what. But personal triumph over adversity tends to score higher than Urkel not being honored by the Kennedy Center. And if you don’t have a personal triumph just lift something from PROFILES IN COURAGE. It’s been fifty years. No one remembers that book. Look for at least one “Awwwwwwwww” moment.

Shoes matter. The road to the White House goes through Leffot in Manhattan.

Try singing one of your answers. Bad news always goes down easier when delivered by a karaoke Sinatra.

Your opponent says something you take great issue with? Just do a spit-take. You think anyone is going to listen to a “rebuttal”?

Finally and most important, in your closing remarks, make sure you say that this great nation was built by good strong Americans like you; concerned hard-working people who love this country and rate things.

Thank me at the Inaugural.

19 comments:

Steve Zeoli said...

Personally, I'd like to see President Obama do a spit take the first time Mitt reels off one of his patented falsehoods.

MikeBo said...

Between pollsters calling and all that tweeting, it'll be a miracle if I can watch the whole thing. Just remember to turn the TV set on at the last minute and turn it off immediately when its done. Sleep on what you saw and heard and then read the editorial in the NY Times before the "spin" changes your mind. Then read Ken's review. Only then may you turn on the "Today" show.

Great post today, Ken!

Mac said...

Hah! Love it.
"We believe Iran is pursuing a secret program to build intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could result in the devastation of every major branch of Hooters on the Eastern seaboard."

John Galt said...

"Then read Ken's review."

It's already written and we know who he will judge the winner.

Jill Pinnella Corso said...

Love it. If they could fade out with meaningful glances set to powerful music, that would be great.

gottacook said...

John Galt: Aaaah, go on back to your otherwise-empty theater showing Atlas Shrugged II.

Fred Barden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Barden said...

Didn't Biden already do all of that? I'm sure he said hooters and I think he cartwheeled off stage.

Graham Powell said...

Moltin' Joe definitely did the spit-take in the last debate.

oliver said...

Speaking of politics, what do you think of Grammer's performance as Mayor on "Boss?"

Oliver

Mike said...

The debate needs a video backdrop playing behind the candidates. I suggest someone leafing through binders full of women. Maybe Al Bundy's collection of Playboys.

Dan from MSU said...

Hmmmm.... seems to me that not even Sam Malone had "binders full of women".

VP81955 said...

Supposedly there's a debate drinking game where you take a swig anytime a candidate uses the phrase "the American people," which would lead one to get drunk rather quickly. Whenever I hear that line, I turn on my bull detector -- rhetoric and platitudes are on the way. (Sigh.)

Johnny Walker said...

Yikes. There's a horrible ring of truth to this. As you once wrote: We're so past Network, that we can't even see it in the rear view mirror anymore.

Debby G. said...

Smart and funny post! They should also put their hands over their hearts and be sure to mention our brave troops, God, and Betty White.

Cap'n Bob said...

I thought Al Bundy's magazine of choice was Big'uns.

Mike said...

Well Obama called out Romney's lies this time. The moderator too. Obama's chances of getting reelected were good before the debate at 60% on InTrade, but afterwards they went up to 65%. Would be higher except for some big money guys looking to keep the number down so people don't think the election is over. What it means is a great return for people who bet on InTrade now. Send money and get a more than 50% return in a matter of weeks.

Cap'n Bob said...

I don't need InTrade, Mike. I have millions coming from Nigeria any day now.

Mike said...

You mock, but the money is real.