Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Talk Like a Pirate Day – After Action Report

It's my new favorite story about International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

For the uninitiated (and anyone reading this probably isn't among that group) Talk Like a Pirate Day is every Sept. 19, a day with no other purpose than for people all over the world to share in the anarchic joy of talking like a pirate for no other reason than it's fun. Over the years (11 of them now) we've had some remarkable things happen – hearing about the TLAP party held at the Antarctic research station, located 50 feet from the South Pole, hearing astronauts on the International Space Stations talking like pirates, the NY Times crossword puzzle theme, the photo from the White House of Obama pretending to talk with a pirate. The list goes on.

Every year, something happens and we think, "Well, that's as good as it gets. There's no topping this." And then the next year something comes along and tops it.

There was one of those this year, of course. I was watching The Daily Show, and there was no mention of the holiday. But right at the end, Stewart said, "And now, your moment of zen," and the clip showed a guy being interviewed on CNBC, and the interviewer was talking like a pirate! That was a two-fer, both the original interview and the Daily Show pick up. So that was a pretty big deal to me.

But that's not my favorite story. That came late Thursday night, in an email. I will quote it.

"Hi, you haven't the slightest idea who I am ... I am a broke college student who lives in FL with my family (mom, dad, younger siblings aunts, uncles, grandma, cousins, etc...), I just wanted to write to you guys and let you know how much fun my family had celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2013. I had known of and observed it lightly for the last 4 years but this year, I heard about the Krispy Kreme promotion and I knew that I had to get my family in on the act. My dad couldn't make it out with us to celebrate but he gave us the go ahead and encouraged us to help the little kids dress up and really have fun with the afternoon. The kids helped make their own costumes (or did I help them?) they weren't great but we had a lot of fun making them and getting excited and then they had even more fun when my older sister and I took our younger siblings and cousins out to the local doughnut place and they had a blast – as my 8-year-old cousin John put it: 'This is the best International Talk Like a Pirate Day I've ever had!!!!'"

I love this story, both because of the boy's enthusiasm and the realization that there's a whole generation of young people for whom this isn't just some goofy new idea they've just heard of. International Talk Like a Pirate Day, is a THING. It's just part of the calendar, part of life that's been around (in their experience) forever. Not really that different than Christmas or baseball.

Kind of blows me away.

Mark (Cap'n Slappy Summers) and I have been noting for years that the holiday is sort of outgrowing us, and this year I'm sure of it. Not that that's a bad thing. It's reached critical mass, Mark and I could decide to drop it tomorrow and it would go on. We did fewer interviews this year than in the past – seven years ago we did 82 radio interviews in a 30-hour hour span. This year we were still all over Australia, the Aussies just can't get enough of us. But very few in the U.S. and only one in Europe. But that didn't mean interest in Talk Like a Pirate Day was dying. On the contrary, it's stronger than ever. The holiday was all over the Web, in newspaper and on television everywhere. They didn't need to talk to the founders. They were too busy, there was a holiday to celebrate.

The Krispy Kreme promotion was especially huge. When Tori, Max and I went down for our doughnuts (dress like a pirate, get a dozen free doughnuts) the place was mobbed with buccaneers. We heard similar reports from all over.

People have asked us over the years how long we plan to keep this up. The answer was always the same. "As long as it's fun." It's still fun, but now it's something more. It's not just my and Mark's plaything. It belongs to the world.

And the world is doing just fine with it.

1 comment:

TikiGeek said...

Awesome story John, congratulations on creating a new iconic worldwide holiday. Great legacy.