Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting Ready for "Stephen Colbert 101" Schiller and Keith on the Philosophy and Rhetoric of Comedy Central's Arbiter of Truthiness

If you've attended enough of our readings and talks, you've figured out that we have two basic layouts. The intimate talks (expectation of less than thirty) are set up in the back right corner. There are perceived wall boundaries and an artificially dropped ceiling (it's actually duct work but it does the trick) that make the space and event seem comfortable even with 10-15 people.

For larger events, we use the back center space. It's more open, and can be easily expanded. At one of our events, we set up for 50 people and within ten minutes, when we realized things were much bigger, we had seating for 150.

The big restraint we have is the microphone jack. The podium needs to be less than 10 feet from the outlet.

So there's not much more that we think about when we set up an event. But in preparation for tomorrow's event with Professors Aaron Schiller and William Keith for "Stephen Colbert 101" (spun off of Schiller's newly edited work, Stephen Colbert and Philosophy), we almost had a rousing academic discussion for chair placement.

That's because Professor Schiller is quite knowledgeable on the subject, having penned Democracy as Dicussion: Civic Education and the American Forum Movement. Public forums, not that different from many book talks, were quite interested in the arrangement of public meetings to best further discussion.

In the end, you won't see us making dramatic changes to a typical Boswell setup. We'll have our two easy chairs for the authors (we do this sometimes for events that are more discussions) plus the podium as well. The structure of the talk will be a series of posed questions. You know philosophers love questions.

Keith's work on rhetoric and public forum applies well to Stephen Colbert's unique format and audience participation. And he and Schiller have taken this talk seriously; we are not just another slot on a ten-city tour. It should be very interesting.

And don't be surprised if Professor Keith tweaks my chair placement at the last minute. The event is Wednesday (tomorrow), July 29th, at 7 PM.

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