JED Talks: Ideas Not Worth Spreading

From time to time here on Geeks are Sexy, we post a video from a TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, a conference celebrating just those things. The speakers at TED are all experts in their fields, and often showcase breakthrough technology with the hope that further discussion of these topics and concepts will lead to the betterment of our lives and the state of the world. My personal favorite is from Mike Rowe, who celebrates “dirty jobs”, on his television show of that name, and has an interesting story about being an apprentice sheep herder. So, I was surprised when I first saw “JED Talks” mentioned on Facebook talking about remote controls controlled by flatulence. The website for JED Talks proclaimed that they were looking to promote “ideas not worth spreading”. Curious whether this was just a passing joke, or an actual speaker series, I dug a little bit deeper, and got in contact with the founder of JED to get his explanation of his program; here are his answers to our my questions.

Is this a collaborative effort, or is there a “founder” behind JED talks.

My name is Matthew Stillman. I conceived of the idea of JED Talks and the concept behind it. I’ve been involved with the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) here in NYC since they arrived in the city in 1996. I’ve never aspired to be a professional comedian but I have always loved taking classes and performing there. I’ve performed at the other improv spaces in New York but UCB is my improv home. I used to run program development at Food Network where I developed Iron Chef and Good Eats and more recently I co-produced my first film – a feature length documentary called The End of Poverty?. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, was in festivals around the world, came out in theaters across the country earlier in the year and out on dvd a few weeks ago.

I called on three other friends: Jeremy Bent, Mike Young and Nick DeNinno, who were also excited about the project to get involved – and they have been. The second part of the answer is that JED Talks is its own universe. We will shortly be introducing the “founder” of JED Talks – Jed Concepcion, a fast talking VC sort of a guy who bombed at TED and started JED because TED doesn’t “get it”. We hope to expand the universe around that character if the JED show goes over well.

I love the tongue in cheek aspect, was this inspired by attending an actual TED event, or just from the videos they post online?

I’ve never been to a TED event but I am a huge fan of them and have learned from them. I know a number of people who have attended and spoke and started to get a picture of what the TED universe was like. The videos and the self-important tone inspired my loving satire.

How do you hope that this event is received?

I hope that the show sells out. I hope that #ideasnotworthspreading spreads as a hashtag on twitter. I hope that eventually JED Talks becomes as notable, successful, and important a public satire space as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Onion or @BPGlobalPR. I would love for this first JED Talks to allow many more to happen in other parts of the country.

The First JED Talks Event

The first JED Talks event took place at the Jewish Community Center in manhattan (NYC) on Saturday October 16th. Here was the line up of speakers for the event (Youtube videos not yet available):

Will Hines – The Stepfathers at UCB Theater
Erik Tanouye – UCB Theater star and co-writer of viral video hit “BP Spills Coffee”
Kurt Braunohler – NYC indie comedy legend
Dan Allen – Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, Sacapuntas Show
CeCe Lederer, writer at The Colbert Report
Ali Farahnakian, founder of The Peoples Improv Theater
Bob Powers – Bob Powers Online

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