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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Award-Winning Screenwriter Bob Daily ‘82 Addresses Crowd for Alumni Weekend

<annot tell you how lucky I am to be back in Northfield and how honored I am to speak, especially when I remember all the amazing convocation speeches I slept through when I was here” began award-winning producer Bob Daily ’82 at last Friday’s convocation.

The award-winning producer spoke first about the lessons he gleaned from his career path. He recounted his first performance at Carleton in a juggling show as the lead male role, including his memorization of all of his lines for the show the weekend before it opened.

“That experience would set a pattern for the rest of my life,” said Daily, “I made a rash hasty decision without any agenda or plan; I pursued adventures; I followed the fun; I asked myself what I would find interesting and creatively challenging at this moment.”

Toward the end of senior year, Daily found himself without a job for the future. He talked to his theater professor, Ruth Weiner, who suggested that he call a Carleton alum who ran an improv group in Texas.

The alum hired him to answer the phone but also allowed him to perform on Sunday and Monday nights, because “nobody shows up Sunday and Monday nights.”

“I learned I had some ability to write dialogue for actors, so long as that actor wasn’t me, so that’s why I arrived at screenwriting,” said Daily.

First, however, he worked as a journalist, covering everything from open heart surgeries to the first and last international Elvis impersonator convention.

“Even though I was supporting myself financially, it felt like I was extending the awesomeness of my Carleton career another decade,” said Daily, “I said yes to anything that sounded like an adventure and I stopped whenever it felt like work.”

Finally, after submitting numerous scripts, he became a screenwriter on a new series. “The network had very high hopes for the show,” said Daily, “when it debuted, Ten Minutes in Saskatchewan had higher ratings.”

Only after two more failures did Daily become the screenwriter for Fraser.
“It was my dream job,” said Daily, “and I have been working steadily and happily every since.”

The lesson of his experiences, he said, was that students should follow their dreams.

“You guys are starting the ultimate improvisation. It’s called life. There’s no script. You have no idea what’s going to happen and you are not always going to be in control,” said Daily, “so take a deep breath and say yes.”

Daily’s message struck a chord with students.

“Unlike other convocations we’ve had in the past, this convo was quite lighthearted, hilarious and uplifting, perfect for the Midterm Break and Parent’s Weekend,” said Florence Wong ’16, “I really admired Bob Daily’s modesty and humor, and appreciated his jokes and encouraging words.”

Jake Wasserman ’16 said that Daily provided an example of what Carleton students can do with a liberal arts education.

“It’s always interesting to see where people take that abstract education,” Wasserman explained. “He’s right in that you do what comes naturally to you and play to your own strengths.”

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