Gold Men and Hams

Award acceptance speeches can be so difficult and potentially embarrassing. Words that might be perfectly acceptable in normal conversation or as part of a drunken brawl simply aren’t appropriate on a global stage with a billion people watching.

In short, it’s a good idea to write down your thoughts before accepting the little golden man.

And yet movie stars lead such complicated lives. People watch them to see the glamour, but they also enjoy a little bit of dirt. And you know how it is in show biz – you have to give the paying customers some of what they want. How much, however, is up to you.

Some complain that prepared remarks sound “canned”, and are not as memorable as more unscripted, genuine moments. Often this is true, but a bit of preparation shows respect for the audience and for one’s self. If you take the time to deliver a message that has been crafted and proofread and re-written, it will represent you better in the long run.

One year the actor Mark Rylance accepted a Tony award by reciting a prose poem written by Minnesota author Louis Jenkins. There are good things about handling it that way – including economy of language. A poem has rhythm and timing, and so it is easier to fit inside the 45-second acceptance speech time limit than, say, a bit of off-the-cuff drunken rambling.

The bad thing about using poetry – a lot of people won’t get it. Others will find it annoying or will simply ignore it. And it’s not as splashy or revealing as off-the-cuff drunken rambling.

Unless you go Seussian / dysfunctional / confessional on them.

I’ve won the prize at last, Oh My!
And now it’s time for speeches.
Thank you, thank you, mom and dad,
And no thanks to the leeches.

Did I say “leeches”? Heavens dear.
That’s not what I’m about.
And we all know of whom I speak.
No need to call them out.

No, I don’t want to dwell on that.
On agents and producers
And all the stabbers, front and back
The users and seducers.

No, this is such a happy night
And I’ve already chewed
through half of my allotted time
with anti-gratitude.

So thanks to all those who endured
my antics without cringing.
My tantrums and my selfishness.
My pouts and fits and binging.

I’m so in awe of everyone’s
commitment to perfection.
My rehab staff. My temper coach.
The guards at State Corrections.

My family – the spouse and kids.
I haven’t thanked you yet.
I know I made you happiest
when I was on the set.

I’ve only got five seconds now.
So here’s to all the rest.
The fans who paid to see me
though I’ve been an awful pest.

That’s a solid 45 seconds, if read briskly. And it would run on You Tube forever.

If you had to accept a major award, would you go with stream-of-consciousness, or carefully prepared remarks?

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45 thoughts on “Gold Men and Hams”

  1. I’ve had my prepared remarks ready for years. “Thank you. Good night.”

    Great poem to start off the week.

    Morning all!

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  2. love the poem, Dale – “stabbers, front and back” is so very cleaver!

    off on another long drive again today but leaving Steve home to work on the Barn Awards for his blog. well, i was just the committee that chose the winners – he is the one who knows how to get them published so artfully with his photos. there won’t be any acceptance speeches. but we will celebrate tomorrow when i post the awards in the respective abodes.

    to the questions: i’d be in the “stream of UN-conscious” camp, most likely.
    a gracious good day to You All.

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  3. any time I am going to be recorded or on-camera, the remarks should be bold-face, large font double-spaced and printed out. I can speak ok in front of people, but start recording me and I jibber (yes, even with brief comments like Sherrilee’s)

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  4. Rise and Let the Pearls Drop From Your Baboon Lips:

    Dale, I’d like to thank you first for the inspiring poem so early this morning, and to all the little Baboons who make this blog possible.

    Bill Kling and his brilliant minions at MPR need to be thanked, as well, since without him and his raft of consultants driving policy there, this particular blog never would have existed.

    I also want to thank my dog for her faithfulness as long as there is a treat in my hand and a walk each day on the horizon.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to say that when I did get an award in High School, all I could do is cry, so I don’t think it matters whether I prepare anything or not. The emotion renders me speechless. So why bother? Standing there crying is the end result, prepared or not!

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    1. I, too, am speechless in front of a group unless I have words written for me and memorized. But only as a part of another person in a play…if myself, like Jacque, is doesn’t/wouldn’t matter if the words were written. But Jacque, I love your words written above.

      Dale, I LOVE Louis Jenkins…and his poetry. What of the many splendid prose poems did Mark Rylance recite?

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      1. I can stand in front of a group and teach a lesson, or opine about a professional matter without a hitch. But something personal and I am a puddle. Frustrating.

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  5. Since actors make their living reciting words that others have written, I think they should stick to scripts when it comes to gratitude, too. There is too much risk involved without a prepared speech, which is why I’d stick to a script as well. Not that there is even a remote chance of my ever having to make an acceptance speech of any kind.

    Happy Monday, all. From where I sit, that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but oh well. :-)

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  6. I fall into a “somewhere in between” camp (probably no surprise there). I can’t read directly from a script or I sound stiff, and I get flustered if I miss a word, but if I set down an outline of “talking points” (I’m sure Spin Williams would like that), I’m good to go. So my acceptance speech in written form would look something like this:

    Thank you
    Mom, Dad, Teacher’s Name
    Husband, Friend, Friend (for kicking me in the tuchus)
    Fabulous, unexpected, appreciated
    Name of Work and organization granting award
    Thank You

    (Note to self, DO NOT say, “you like me, you really really like me!”)

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    1. Very nice. Reminds me of Lou and Peter Berryman and their song about love of home: ” Your State Here” or whatever it is called. Always makes me laugh.

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    2. One of the last shows I worked on; an actress spaced her lines onstage… went back to her ‘cheat sheet’ and all it said was ‘Monologue’ which wasn’t helpful. She gave herself a few more clues after that…

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  7. Having spent a very large part of my professional career vamping in front of one small or large group of people or another . . . .

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    1. Steve – you just made me snort coffee!

      The really sad part about today’s topic is that I didn’t even realize the awards were last night! We were out and about all day and I settled in early w/ a book and never turned on the tv. Guess that says it all about my lack of mainstream values!

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    2. So did your prediction method live up to its accurate history? And by-the-way, Reese Witherspoon’s “look” was really panned by those catty critics, but I thought she looked sophisticated and fabulous.

      So there.

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      1. Jacque I done good, and this time I had a baboon witness. Linda was there. I got 19 of the 24 picks, which was probably enough for an overall win. (I say probably because they changed the voting this year to make it harder for me to win.)

        I provided the comic highlight of the evening in an unusual way. The floor lamp beside my chair had a sort of circular tray around its middle, a place to store books, ash trays, lighters, etc. I put my ballot on that thing, and almost immediately we all smelled something on fire. The lamp tray had a little glass candle scented thing on it with an open flame. My ballot instantly caught fire. The guy next to me joined me in blowing on the blazing ballot, and at first our frantic blowing just made the flames roar higher. I remember thinking, “Sh*t! Our wine breath is just feeding this flame!!” But eventually we got the fire out without much damage to the upholstery and carpet. Then I had a ballot I’d spent three weeks researching, and one third of the obscure technical picks I’d made were burned off.

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      2. Steve, you mean there is no Youtube of the event you just described? we just have to imagine it all? how very quaint and 20th century!

        I never watch the Academy Awards, so I always have to ask somebody afterwards, who/what won for costumes?

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      3. In a perfect world, the flaming ballot episode would have taken place when the Coen brothers were nominated for “Burn After Reading”. ;-)

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  8. I would have an outline in my head, and go from there. We saw a wonderful show last night at the high school, Much Ado About Will, comprised of a variety of scenes from a wide variety of Shakespeare plays. It was great to see high school students make sense of Shakespeare and actually understand what they were saying and have a great time doing it. Much more fun than the Oscars for us!

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  9. when winning awards for the craft that i work
    i likely would try to be smart
    while visions of past haunts and skelletoins lurk
    i check zipper and try not to fart

    i try to be upbeat and show my game face
    for my adoring public i’ll glow
    i’ll dance up to accept and i’d rock this place
    although at 56 i’ll rock it slow

    thanking my failures to help me achive
    every thing that comes after you fail
    when even marginal success will relieve
    and for far distand shore i set sail

    never mind who that guy was who was on before me
    never mind who is coming up next
    i have so much to say to all those who adore me
    come facebook me or send me a text

    timjones2020 is where i’ll be found
    if you’re searching on facebook or twitter
    i have facebook pals from the whole world round
    its time now but i’m not a quitter

    look me up to hear praises of my mom and dad
    and my dog and my 3rd grade speech teacher
    and my god is responsible for all the good times i’ve had
    and my lady that wonderful creature

    i’ll be back again some day if i get my wish
    the joyful feeling i cant get my fill
    awards of this level aren’t like inlaws or fish
    after 3 days i’ll be a smiling strong still

    so thanks to the masses and thanks again to my dog
    and thanks for giving me a look
    now come vist me on my websight, my blog,
    my homeapge twitter or facebook

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    1. Impressive and awe-inspiring. I might even need to visit my sparse and neglected Facebook account so I can be your friend, then visit the museum there you and your 3rd grade teacher created.

      You get the Golden Banana today for the poem!

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  10. Morning–

    I would probably scribble some notes, then get up there, forget about them, ramble on for a bit until the music started, panic and shout out random people from 10 years ago and forget wife and family until I was turning to leave and the mic has been turned off and that’s when I’d turn around shout out to them and blow kisses.
    Then trip over my shoe strings and pratfall across the stage and fall down the steps…. and limp for the next month all because I ‘won’.

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  11. I just went and looked up the awards online….

    A special award for myself in the category of “just never gets out to the movies”. Of all the movies up for ANYTHING, I only saw Toy Story 3, Tangled and Harry Potter. Hmmm…. I’m sensing a theme.

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      1. Not to worry… I’m to the point where I’m seeing them because I’ve seen all the rest. But they’re not as good as the earlier ones… somebody is worrying too much about artistic license.

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    1. We have seen TS3, Tangled (which was very fun) and Black Swan… I’m not that interested in the HP movies; I know son saw it and wife wanted to see it but I don’t think she has yet…

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  12. OT —

    MiG, are you working on Saturday? I’ve convinced the teenager that she needs to see Retail Day. Plus “Drunken Spongecake” is on my list!

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