Don McMillan
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Don McMillan

Kent, Washington, United States

Kent, Washington, United States
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"Engineer Humor"

By Judy Schriener
Last week, for the first time ever, I attended Autodesk University, Autodesk Inc.'s huge gathering of users, clients, partners and other interested parties. This year 4,400 people assembled in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand hotel and conference center (and casino, of course) for a week of talks, classes, networking and purposeful social events. AU, as they like to call it, has been in Las Vegas for the past several years but next year it will be in Orlando, Fla., for those of you who keep track. I passed on the beer bust because that big of a crowd of rowdies in one room was a bit overwhelming, but I did go to the "Night of Comedy" show on the last night. I'm not usually much of a laugh-out-louder, but the engineer/comedian/emcee Don McMillan was the best act I've seen in years. Business people and especially engineers (which made up the majority of the crowd) could relate to his irreverent, on-target pokes at engineers, business, marriage and life. McMillan, a Stanford-educated electrical engineer, took on the funny side of life as seen through the mind of an engineer. When was the last time you saw a comedian use PowerPoint? I wish I could replicate or post McMillan's clever presentation, but his delivery provided at least half of the humor. Wry, wry, wry. His rubber face only added to the effect.
McMillan made fun of the worst (and most common) mistakes people make with PowerPoint. We all know what they are. Just imagine a presentation with them all in the extreme with the intent to satirize. He created charts and graphs to analyze regular life events. His "Happiness Flow Chart" started at age nine months and ended at age 90. His maps and flow charts of his discussions with his wife about her "inefficient" vacuuming route had the predictable, hilarious result. His layout of zones in his living room with percentages of likelihood that his toddler would hit his head on the round-edged furniture vs. pointed-edged furniture had every parent in the room laughing and nodding. He's got a good demo on his Web site so you can get a flavor of what he does. He plotted his percentages of winning arguments with his wife during their dating phase (50%), while they were engaged (25%) and since they've been married (zero for 968). McMillan displayed a glossary of common tech terms and their so-called meanings. My favorites (that I can print): "Linux - Latin word meaning 'I don't do Windows,'" "VoIP - Talking on a cell phone while in the bathroom" and "LANIWAN - Thank you ma'am." He had a guide to what common statements means when an engineer says them. For example, "I'm at a three-day conference" translates to "I'm drinking for free for three days." And "I'm on schedule" translates to "I haven't started yet." We could all relate. - McGraw-Hill


"Celebrating 100 Years of Engineering at USC"

On October 28,2005, the Viterbi School launched its centennial celebration with a black-tie gala held at the California Science Center. The evening culminated with a performance by comedian and engineer, Don McMillan. Don uses PowerPoint slides packed with charts, graphs and metrics resulting in a hilarious presentation. Here is a highlight from his performance that evening. "Most stand-up comics would rather have root canal than perform for a crowd of 500 engineers. Not me. I love engineers - the more the better. Nerd herds are my life. I am Don McMillan: Engineer/Comedian. That alone
makes me pretty unique. Nobody ever thinks, 'Engineer - this guy has got to be funny!' or 'We're having a party and we're only inviting engineers!' You see, a lot of people think engineers are boring, but we're not boring. We just get excited about boring things: A 512MB memory upgrade can make me jump for joy. The sale ads for Fry's Electronics make me giddy! In fact, I love Fry's so much, that when I got married, we registered at Fry's. But, that is exactly why I had the honor of being invited to speak at the Viterbi School of Engineering's Celebration of 100 years of Engineering at USC - I think engineering cab be funny!
100 years is very impressive. 100 years! That's '1.0 x 10" in scientific notation. '1100100' in binary. But, it's only '64' in hexadecimal. I am all for using alternate base systems. Just think, the USC football team could defeat Washington State by' 110 100' to '0'. They could defeat UCLA by Avogadro's number. (That's 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd power - that's a blowout!)This is the kind of comedy that most engineers can relate to.
Even math can be fun. In the next 100 years of Engineering, I think we need to change the way we teach math. Nowadays, kids think in images and graphics - not symbols. We can teach what I call 'Multi-Media Math'. For example, 'AI Pacino' minus 'Brains' equals 'Keanu Reeves'. Or 'Hermie the Dentist' from Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer plus '$50 Billion' equals 'Bill Gates'. Isn't math more fun this way? In addition, if we took the time to do math, we would not get duped by marketing people who manipulate data to send the wrong message. For example, your chances of getting Alzheimer's by age 85 me '1 in 10'. But, the average cigarette smoker lives to be age 66. So, if you were in marketing at a cigarette company, you could say, 'Smoking lowers the chance of getting Alzheimer's.'
In conclusion, there is perhaps no field that is richer in comedy than engineering. Engineers are creating the world of tomorrow and with that come tomorrow's jokes. And for an engineer/comedian that is a good thing. Happy Anniversary, Viterbi - keep those jokes coming!"
- USC Viterbi Engineer


"McMillan's Clean Humor Refreshing"

ADDISON – Technically, Don McMillan is pretty funny.

That's not a left-handed compliment, but rather a description of Mr. McMillan's act, which is steeped in the language and subject matter of his original profession – electrical engineering, where he was part of the team that designed the world's first 32-bit microprocessor.

Announcing himself as "the only comic working in PowerPoint," he interspersed his monologue with a variety of bar graphs, pie charts and other visual aids projected on a large screen behind him.

Among these were a plotting of laughs per second (LPS) as a function of drinks consumed, the frequency of sex versus a couple's time together, and a series of translators for such BS magnets as sales talks and résumés. (Example: On a résumé, "experience in telecommunications management" turns into "used to answer the phones.")

He turned the PowerPoint off for humorous takes on subjects drawn from the conflicts between the nerdy environment of the math whiz and the rest of the world. A "recovering engineer" who has had his "pants lowered in a series of operations," Mr. McMillan went to a college where the football team called out binary signals and once lost a game by Avogadro's number.

Other subjects included Bill Gates, whom Mr. McMillan admired for being "incredibly secure in his masculinity. How else could he be head of a company named Microsoft?" He also had a very funny bit about how you could determine a person's job in a company by asking them to define the value of pi, and he referred to his gaudy tie as containing all of the chemical elements. However, he said, "I only wear it periodically."

His funniest material involved conflicts between the problem-solving nature of his training and the behaviors necessary to keep a marriage happy. When his wife asks him if he'll read to her if she ever goes into a coma, he replies, "Honey, they have books on tape" – not the right answer.

His low-profanity twist on stand-up is a refreshing approach to what's often a clichéd genre, and he should anticipate a highly positive ratio of success as a function of elapsed career time (ECT). - Dallas Morning News


"The Einstein of Comedy"

Contest Winner uses sharp wit in stand-up act:
Don McMillan graduated from Stanford University with a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1982. He proceeded to work at an East Coast think tank and then a large Silicon Valley company. This year he won the 16th annual San Francisco International Stand-up Comedy Competition.
Let's cut to the McMillan parents at home in New Jersey. "They were really not thrilled," McMillan said.
Not about the career change. How could any parent leap for joy at seeing their son's white collar covered by a hip sportcoat. But they're ecstatic that he won the competition.
"My Mom would still like me to be Einstein," McMillan said... (for more go to link below) - Tim Goodman - Contra Costa Times


"Computer Engineer Wins Comedy Competition"

Lanky comedian stands tall in winning S.F. Comedy Competition. San Francisco native, a former computer engineer who describes himself as the love child of Howdy Doody and Lurch, was crowned champion of the 16th annual San Francisco Comedy Competition at the Warfield Theater as Sunday night edged into Monday morning.
McMillan's victory was popular with the friendly, enthusiastic crowd at the Warfield and with his four fellow finalists, who'd battled with him and against him through 21 shows in the last month. The five finalists had been whittled from an original field of 40 comics, who in turn had been culled by the event's producers from 400m applicants.
Following McMillan were, in descending order, Tim Wiggins, Barry Weintraub, Rodney Johnson, and Louis C.K.... (for more go to link below) - San Francisco Examiner


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Bio

Don McMillan received his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He helped change the world of computers as part of the team that designed the worlds first 32-bit microprocessor. After 15 years in the high-tech world, he left his day job to become a stand-up comedian. Only 3 years later, he won the San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition and went on to become the $100,000 comedy winner on Star Search.

Don then changed the world of comedy just as he changed the world of technology: In 1998 he became the first comedian to feature PowerPoint slides in his act and was dubbed "The PowerPoint Comedian". His huge YouTube hit, Life After Death by PowerPoint, has more than 10 million views. It is shown in thousands of colleges & universities, high schools, training classes, and seminars to show students in a funny, unforgettable way how NOT to do presentations. The success of his video has helped make Don the #1 corporate comedian as named by CBS BNET. Google, Apple, IBM, and FaceBook are among the more than 300 companies that have hired Don.

Not only has Don been featured on the Tonight Show, HBO, and MTV but he has performed at many colleges and universities including: Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Lehigh, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, USC, and of course, Stanford!

Don utilizes math, science, engineering, and state-of-the-art technologies to perform a one-of-a-kind, laugh-out-loud, multimedia comedy show. His show celebrates nerds, geeks, techies and their friends and family who love them. He is THE comedian for the Information Age!

Don is willing to bring colleges and universities his brilliantly clever show at a reduced price so he can share his love of comedy and engineering to show students that creativity and technology go hand-in-hand; To dare students to challenge the image of the typical engineer or the typical student; and to inspire students to follow their passions to discover new, exciting paths for their futures.