My Cisco Live 2012 Keynote Speaker Wish List

In the summer of 2011, I attended my first Cisco Live event. For years — even when it was called Networkers, I’d heard how great a show it was. Needless to say, I was excited. In fact, the first thing I did after arriving was grab a Mandalay Bay employee to take my photo at the huge CISCO LIVE sign. Can you say new Twitter background?

I didn’t get to stick around Cisco Live 2011 long enough to hear William Shatner and Carlos Dominguez in the final keynote. Missing that was a huge disappointment. But I did make the OK Go and Train concert at M Resort. They’re no Captain Kirk, but hearing not one, but two of my favorite bands for the first time live lessened the sting of my disappointment greatly.

This year, I’m planning to be there the whole week — from the welcome reception to the final keynote address. Maybe because I missed last year’s, I’m ultra-excited about this year’s keynote. For months, I’ve wondered and fantasized about the person Cisco might select for that final slot. Here’s my wish list:

Patrick Stewart

So I get that Patrick Stewart is no William Shatner, but I suspect he’s no less wise. He certainly sounds like it. Shatner probably surprised folks last year with his compelling advice at the main event of a company in transition. I’m sure that Patrick Stewart can bring that same reverence. After all, this is a man with the same Star Trek lineage as Shatner. Plus, he has comic book cred as Professor Charles Xavier in Marvel’s X-Men movie trilogy. While it certainly improves his Cisco Live keynote worthiness to me, when we’re making the official argument, maybe we’ll just not mention that stint in Dune, alright?

Leonard Nimoy

I’m not obsessing over Star Trek here, I swear. There is no Whoopi Goldberg on this list, but Spock beats Picard and Kirk hands down. Imagine Nimoy sharing nuggets of sage advice with thousands of geeks hanging on his every word. He’s a logical choice.

Tina Fey

A few years ago, John Cleese of Monty Python fame was the final keynote speaker. I don’t see much geek factor there. Awkward, nerdy, and klutzy — Cleese surely has those going on. And he’s entertaining, I am sure. But this is Cisco Live and it has to have that geek factor. When it comes to geek humor, Tina Fey has it going on for sure. Though she rose to fame during her SNL performances as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 30 Rockis the second geekiest show on TV. What’s geekier than walking around an entire episode dressed as Princess Leia to get out of jury duty? Plus if there’s anything the Cisco Live planning committee needs to put on their agenda, it’s getting more females to this show. If they did book Ms. Fey, sorry Carlos, but I think you’d have to turn over the interviewing reins on this one to Cisco’s very own she-geek, Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior. She-geeks unite!

Seth Green

Getting his big break in a stint as Scott Evil in the Austin Powers trilogy is not Seth Green’s only claim to fame. His resume reads like a fanboy’s Netflix weekend viewing list: Tales from the Darkside, Amazing Stories, Stephen King’s It, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Files, SeaQuest 2032, Idle Hands, and Family Guy. But his geek factor gets a power up from creating Robot Chicken. “What’s Robot Chicken,” you ask? It’s just the most twisted stop-motion animated parody comedic television series on basic cable. We’re talking He-Man and Thundercats references and Star Wars and Star Trek-theme episodes galore. It’s more like Geek Central than Comedy Central. Also, I’ve seen Seth on Conantons of times, and he’s a compelling interview every time.

Big Bang Theory cast

Of course the geekiest show on TV has a wealth of potential Cisco Live keynote speakers. The Cisco Live crowd is more late 30s and early 40s, but the show reaches geeks of all ages.

At first, Jim Parsons, who plays the show’s Sheldon Cooper, BS, MS, MA, PhD, ScD, is the most obvious choice since he is the most popular character, but so was Kramer from Seinfeld. Plus over the holiday break I saw Parsons co-hosting on Live with Kelly and it was unimpressive. Now if he agreed to attend Cisco Live as Sheldon Cooper that would be awesome. But first he’d need to make sure Kripke wasn’t backstage filling the auditorium with helium.

Johnny Galecki, who portrays Leonard Hofstadter, PhD, is more of the straight guy, like Jerry Seinfeld, and a slightly less popular character. Still, he’s a great Conan interview. Yes, I watch a lot of Conan. Plus, Galecki could give us the scoop on working with Jim Parsons.

If the Cisco Live folks really wanted to turn up the she-geek factor, they could have Padmasree interview Sara Gilbert, who portrays sarcastic optical physicist Leslie Winkle, PhD, along with Mayim “Blossom” Bialik, who in addition to playing Amy Farrah Fowler, PhD, on the show, earned her own real-life PhD in neuroscience. Who knew Blossom had it in her?

Though he lacks a doctorate degree, I’d even show up to hear Howard Wolowitz, played by Simon Helberg, or his best friend Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali, played by Kunal Nayyar. Both of them in character could play off their science fiction and comic book obsessions, and then Raj’s parents, the Koothrappalis, could interrupt via webcam direct from India using Cisco technology.

Though a minor character on the show, yes, Wil Wheaton would make an interesting choice as well. No, I’m not completely obsessed with Star Trek. I’m including Wil Wheaton here more for his Big Bang Theory appearances than his portrayal of Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Plus, he’s done enough fanboy geekshows to know what the Cisco Live crowd wants. I do love the ease he plays himself on a show about him playing a character on another show. I’ve also heard he has a mean poker face. Well, I guess I mean Mystic Warlords of Ka’a face, but that just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

So there you have it, my own personal Cisco Live 2012 keynote speaker wish list. Whether the Cisco Live planning folks get it right by choosing someone I’ve suggested or not, I’m sure I’ll approve of their selection. And I’m also sure I’ll be there this year with Blackberry and laptop in hand.

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  1. Kellen C Reply

    How about Adam & Jamie from Mythbusters? I went to their “Behind the Myths” tour show in Portland, and had a blast!

  2. John Mark Ivey Reply

    Great suggestion Kellen! Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman tape “Mythbusters” in San Francisco, so they wouldn’t have to travel far to San Diego to appear at Cisco Live! 2012 in June. It would also be cool if they’d shoot an actual episode with some routing, switching, virtualization, or collaboration myth to disprove. They’ll surely make my 2013 wish list.

  3. John Mark Ivey Reply

    Kellen C – you called! Adam & Jamie of Mythbusters will be this year’s keynote speakers for Cisco Live! 2012 in San Diego.

  4. John Mark Ivey Reply

    So three months ago I suggested that Cisco get a cast member of Big Bang Theory to appear at this year’s Cisco Live. Well I just learned that Kunal Nayyar, better known as Rajesh Koothrappali, is emceeing HP Discover 2012. I knew some big name event planner was probably reading my blog.

  5. Alec Reply

    Mythbusters is a fantastic program for Cisco-
    I book these kinds of programs all the time – and I’ve wanted to book for Cisco for YEARS – John, do you have any advice on how to work with them?