Take a cue from the teleprompter

It must have been very hard for presidents, entertainers and news reporters before cue cards and teleprompters. In this day and age, they cannot live without them.

Cue cards mostly came on in the early days of television. Some of us remember when most of all TV entertainment was live and so-called stars didn’t want to be humiliated due to forgetfulness and gaffs.

Although a lot of cue card stuff eventually graduated into teleprompters, the cue card is still used predominately on late night variety and comedy shows. Sometimes the pressures can be intense as TV hosts and even personalities take crash-course training on the art of reading the cue card. Some are even near-sighted, which again creates problems. Wear your glasses, please!

It seems cue cards or note cards were first used to help aging actors (who maybe also had a hint of dementia) to remember their scripts. It probably all started in the early 1930s, but with the pioneering of TV in the late ’40s and the ’50s, it came into its own.

It takes a good cue card operator and printer to make it so much easier for entertainers and hosts. Some famous movie stars became frequent users of the cards placing cue cards all around the set, supposedly for realism.

Then came a great advancement in our so-called technology — teleprompters. The teleprompter, which is much more advanced than cue cards, enables actors, presidents and many more news people to just look good, period, by looking directly into the camera. They, of course, must read, and read well, and hopefully understand their text.

Speeches, especially presidential speeches, are written by speech writers. They are approved by the president and are supposed to be the same words he himself would have used had he written the speech.

Without a teleprompter and a speech writer, would the message be the same? Or is the speech writer actually the president? Does the president really understand what he is saying, since he probably didn’t write the speech?

I wonder what would happen if the teleprompter would break down during a speech and the speaker did not have his text before him. Maybe all he or she has is their grocery list. In a very important speech regarding the welfare of our country, it’s hard to imagine the emphasis on a gallon of milk and a head of lettuce and perhaps a dozen of eggs!

Just kidding, of course. But keep the text in front of you in case of malfunctions.

One good thing about a prompter is that it keeps the speaker in a time frame and prevents him from rambling on and on with ridiculous but amusing stories. Well, sometimes amusing.

It has been very challenging using the prompter, starting with President Dwight Eisenhower to the present, and probably they all had their share of malfunctions and even gaffs. Our new president wanted so much to get rid of prompters but saw firsthand the advantages. The differences are remarkable, sounding like two different people.

Cue cards and teleprompters have really made a difference in communications in our history, while creating the art of realism and making a speech or news worthy events sound more proper and realistic.

Instead of memorizing and the heavy risks of blunders, the shows and speeches go on with an errorless tone with a more relaxed atmosphere.

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