Competition crowns nation's funniest compliance officer

No kidding

If there's one thing that's become clear to IT people since passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 turned them into de facto keepers of the C-suite's plausible deniability, it's that compliance is critical to corporate governance processes based on regulation and accepted best practices, and that compliance officers are fun-loving, hilarious bunch.

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Working professionally as steward of the most humorless corporate processes doesn't mean you can't be funny, to paraphrase the point of a competition run by New-York based recruiting firm Howard-Sloan, which solicited bids from comedic compliance officers and put the six best onstage last month at The Comic Strip in Manhattan.

Isn't a competition for the funniest compliance professional "like looking for America's most-eligible 'Star Trek' groupie," compliance officer Kevin O'Connor asked a Wall Street journal reporter condemned to witness the performances.

The competition – won by Michael Shaw, VP and chief compliance officer of North America Pharmaceuticals at GlaxoSmithKline -- is an update of one Howard-Sloan ran in the '80s and '90s to find the nation's funniest accountants.

To date, none of the winners of that competition have gone on to become comedy headliners.

The compliance geeks aren't likely to, either.

Non-winner Joe Rini of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. mentioned during his routine that recent research has shown excessive email use has the same effect on the brain as marijuana.

"This is very troubling!" he said. "But on the other hand, it does explain why when I come home, I eat a whole pizza pie and a box of Entenmann's donuts."

I don't have the heart to re-distribute any other of the bon mots – especially the one about Dodd-Frank regulations and heroin smugglers – except another from O'Connor proving even compliance officers can break rules, like ignoring the time limit on their routines and the flashing light warning them to get off stage.

"The most ironic thing about this evening, all the compliance professionals not complying with the light. That's the best part."

Download the videos. Bring them to your next SOX or HIPAA or records-lifecycle meeting. Bring a first aid kit in case anyone is injured by the unaccustomed hilarity.

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