Playing up the conference scene |

Playing up the conference scene

April E. Clark

I have a new idea for a TV series and I think it could really go somewhere. I am a hopeless optimist, after all.

The show would be a lot like “The Office.” There would be plenty of corporate-related shenanigans and people talking to the camera. I would call it “The Conference,” and the plot would center on a group of solar geeks, like me, who attend solar conferences around the country. Even around the world. Especially Germany, where solar is way more mainstream than in the U.S.

Just to give it some European flavor.

I would play myself, or if the budget is big we could recruit Jennifer Aniston to play the part of marketing maven April Clark (or my alter ego, April Smith). In the series, April travels to said conferences to represent her solar company, which manufactures some kind of very important widget that makes solar panel installation easy as one, two, three.

I’m still working on the name and the widget.

At these conferences, April – Clark or Smith, depending on the reaction from the focus groups – routinely runs into the same group of solar professionals who all travel to the various conferences for sales and marketing purposes. The group is so familiar with hanging out with each other at every conference they start to refer to themselves as the Solar Family. The Solar Fam for short.

See, it’s already getting good.

They’ll talk geeky stuff, like there were 1.8 gigawatts (GW) in photovoltaic (PV) installations in 2011 alone. The weighted national average for PV system prices fell 20 percent in 2011. Utility PV installations tripled in 2011. And the U.S. PV market is forecasted to grow by 1 GW this year alone. These are all true facts, per the “U.S. Solar Market Insight,” so it won’t be entirely fictional.

To translate the solar geek speak: That is a lot of solar panels.

So, the show will not only be a comedy like “The Office,” but it will also by educational on the growth of renewable energy.

A win-win, as they say in the corporate world, for me.

The jokery ensues as the Solar Fam tries to keep a straight face during presentations when talking about “low-hanging fruit” and “putting butts in seats.” I still have trouble with that corporate speak, no matter how serious it’s supposed to be. And now that my conference friends and I have an inside bet on how many times we hear that in one break-out session, the fun has just begun.

Viewers can play along at home with a friendly drinking game, a la “The Office” when Pam says “Dundler Mifflin, this is Pam,” when she answers the phone. Or the Hi Bob game for “Newhart,” where everyone takes a sip of beer when someone says, “Hi Bob!” Or my personal favorite, Sloppy Sopranos, based on the frequency of swearing on “The Sopranos.”

That game also has optimal effect when watching “Platoon.”

Every time corporate jargon such as the aforementioned “low-hanging fruit” and “butts in seats,” as well as the often overused “game changer,” “paradigm shift,” and “synergy” biz speak is uttered on the show, a 007 martini shall be sipped.

Things get even kookier when these words are used in a corporate tagline.

Of course in my TV show there are plenty of dreadful conference romances, embarrassing social gathering dance floor situations, and over-the-top co-worker drama to work into the plot line. Not to mention mockery of Booth Babes – a ridiculously sexist conference trend no matter what industry – that will be highlighted in “The Conference” series pilot titled, “Booth Dudes.”

In this episode, guess who April hires to wear the short skirts and heels in her booth?

Spoiler alert: Someone’s going to need to shave.

The best part about the show, besides the side-splitting comedy, is that people will learn all about the wonderful and sexy world of solar energy. I just need someone in Hollywood to give my pitch. Hey, I am in California this week.

It could happen.

April E. Clark knows the way to San Jose and it is quite the accommodating city for conference hosting. She has yet to see a Booth Babe. She can be reached at

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