“Holy Wordsmith, Batman!”

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Do you remember the TV show “Batman?”  I watched it all the time during it’s short 3 season run from 1966-1968.  (Yes, I am old.  Born in 1961…do the math.)  I stumbled upon the reruns of it on a local TV station the other night, and now have something really fun to share with my kids.  We all love it!

As I watched it, I marveled at the scriptwriting.  The lines are completely cheesy and campy, the kind of dialog that makes you groan and giggle simultaneously.  But as a speaker, I found myself drawn in to the creativity of it.  The writers liberally used metaphors, rhyme and alliteration.  “Viscous vile vines”.   “Perfectly powerless petunias”.  (Tonight’s episode had Louie the Lilac as the villain, so there were a lot of floral references.)  It was brilliant!

I googled Batman because I wanted to learn more about the show, partly to relive my childhood, and partly because I can’t resist learning things.  I found a section on Wikipedia that fascinated me.  It was a list of the parodies and spoofs that were used in the series.  Again, evidence of magnificent writing!  As I read through it, I felt my own creativity start to spark!  As a speaker, how do you use creativity in your writing?  Look at some of these, as found in Wikipedia, that were used in Batman:

  • The television show was famous for parodying names of many famous celebrities of the day. Among the most notable were newscasters Walter Cronkite, who was parodied as “Walter Klondike”, and Chet Huntley, who was known as “Chet Chumley” on the show. Steve Allen played a character named “Allen Stevens.” J. Pauline Spaghetti, a woman who is almost tricked into giving up her fortune to the notorious European criminal “Sandman”, played by Michael Rennie, is a parody on J. Paul Getty.
  • Gotham’s “Short Island” was a parody of New York’s Long Island. It is separated from Gotham by the “West River”. Long Island is actually separated from the rest of New York City by the East River.
  • A notable location in Gotham is “Chimes Square”, a parody of Times Square.
  • The Pentagon becomes “The Hexagon” in the Batman series.
  • In the episode “The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra”, in which Ida Lupino appeared as the episode’s title villain, Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft, the evil alchemist steals the Mope Diamond, a parody on the famous Hope Diamond, from Spiffany’s Jewellers. Spiffany’s is a parody on Tiffany & Co.

I don’t know about you, but those silly parodies STICK with me!  They make me sit on the words for a minute and enjoy the humor or the twist.  I mull it around, and play with in it my head.  It sticks.  THAT is BRILLIANT writing!

As a speaker, how do you add twists to your writing?  How do you get your audience to remember your words, your point, your message?  I’m not saying you should add parodies to your speeches.  But I am saying that you can take some time to be creative to express a thought in a more unusual or unexpected way.  Use word tools of  a dictionary, a thesaurus, a rhyming dictionary.  Think outside your box.  Find a way to say more with less.   (My struggle, for sure!)  Take a lesson from the writers of Batman.  Become a master wordsmith.  And have your audience saying “Who was that masked man?”

Maureen Zappala
Maureen Zappala
Maureen is the founder of High Altitude Strategies. She’s an ex-NASA propulsion engineer, turned professional speaker and author. She’s a semi-regular contributor to the monthly Toastmaster magazine. And paradoxically, is co-writing a book about Ohio State Football history, (despite being a graduate of U of Notre Dame). Go Bucks. Go Irish. Go figure.

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