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
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?