“Instead of working for the survival of the fittest, we should be working for the survival of the wittiest. Then we can all die laughing.”

—Lily Tomlin


The Festival of Wit is a celebration and exploration of wit: the verbal, psychological, and/or physical intelligence to do, say or be the right thing at the right time in the right place. Wit is the bridge between soft skills like collaboration, intuition, playfulness, improvisation, and rhetoric and the hard skills needed to get things done in the ‘real’ world. The Festival will get people thinking about how they can use wit in their art, political and social engagement, and their daily lives.

Friday, March 30, 2012

9:00–10:00 pm
Student Center
Stand-up Comedy Night

Students, faculty, staff
(presented by the Program Activity Council)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

10:00–11:15 am
Greenwall Auditorium
Wit and Rhetoric: Juggling Aphorisms and Mixing Metaphors 

A hit during the CAPA opening weekend, Geary is back with the full show. This performance will open your eyes to the secret life of metaphor and aphorisms and their role in swinging elections, moving markets, and powerfully influencing daily life. There will be death-defying audience participation, the chance to win prizes and, yes, seriously witty juggling of words and balls!

  • JAMES GEARY '85 professional aphorist, author, journalist, former editor of the European edition of Time, and current editor of Ode
11:30 am–12:30 pm
Greenwall Auditorium
Wit and Politics: The End of Leadership

“Becoming a leader” has become a mantra. But leaders of every stripe are in disrepute, while followers nearly everywhere have become entitled and emboldened. Kellerman chronicles how followers are outwitting leaders to shift the balance of social and political power.

  • BARBARA KELLERMAN, Harvard Kennedy School James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership
1:30–3:45 pm
Greenwall Auditorium
Wit and Improvisation: Faculty, Students, and Staff

Performances and presentations showcasing and celebrating the arts of improvisation and storytelling, plus Bennington’s first ever knock-down, drag-out punning competition!

4:00–5:00 pm
Greenwall Auditorium
Wit and Activism: How to Make Trouble while Having Fun

Andrew Boyd will share actions and campaigns that use wit to achieve social change. Citing real-life examples from his new book Beautiful Trouble: Toolbox for the Next Revolution, Boyd’s talk will be part stand-up comedy, part theatrical ‘happening’ and part instruction manual for political engagement.

  • ANDREW BOYD, founder and lead provocateur of Agit-Pop Communications
8:00–11:00 pm
Tishman Lecture Hall
Movie Night

(presented by the Program Activity Council)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

10:00 am–1:00 pm
CAPA Design Lab I
April Fools!: Workshop in Public Actions

ANDREW BOYD, a 25-year veteran of creative campaigns for social change, will share strategies and methods for launching practical direct action plans that use wit and humor to promote change. Using his own experience as well as issues brought to the workshop by students, he will provide participants with a step-by-step guide to planning and executing funny, innovative campaigns.