July 25, 2024

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Governor Andrew Cuomo masters PowerPoint comedy, more effective

  • New York governor Andrew Cuomo has become must-watch television for many during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • His briefings are always accompanied by his signature brash PowerPoints, the slides of which have have quickly become memes unto themselves.
  • The PowerPoints are a prime exemplar of PowerPoint comedy — where a medium known for its mundanity becomes the deliverer of something far more surprising, chaotic, or transcendent. 
  • In Cuomo’s case, they deliver an authenticity and candor that is strangely calming.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

My new favorite reaction image is a PowerPoint slide. The only words on it are simple, yet elegant: YOU ARE WRONG.

No, it’s not a meme crafted by an absurdist Twitter comedian. It’s from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefing on the state’s coronavirus response. 

Cuomo’s PowerPoint briefings have garnered praise for their informativeness and simple — yet effective — design. And they are true PowerPoints: His team confirmed to GQ’s Rachel Tashjian that they were made on the stalwart office software. 

But the PowerPoints aren’t new; Jon Campbell at the Lower Hudson Valley newsite lohud reports that Cuomo has had one accompany almost every major speech he’s ever given — and has often been mocked for them. 

Jim Malatras, who often advises Cuomo and has made hundreds of slideshows for him, told Campbell: “I feel extremely vindicated.”

What is it that’s so endearing about the PowerPoints in this particular moment?

Cuomo has quickly become must watch television during the age of coronavirus, and the slides behind him have held particular appeal.

I think it’s because Cuomo has inadvertently become a master of PowerPoint comedy, an art form honed to perfection by performers like Demi Adejuyigbe and Jaboukie Young-White. Those comedians utilize the format to deliver often absurdist messages via a relatively mundane office tool. PowerPoint screams corporate meetings that could have been an email. They’re a hallmark of what anthropologist David Graeber calls “b——- jobs.”

The humor in a PowerPoint comedian is the medium calmly being used to explain which famous actress oat milk is like. It turns the generic, familiar PowerPoint into the absurd — and utilizing the same medium as office worker bees conflates the importance of the two. It makes you ask, for a brief moment, what the real difference is between your presentation on earnings and a meticulously researched history of Lorde and Jack Antonoff.

Cuomo’s PowerPoints broadcast the same absurdity, although not intentionally. There are no smooth graphics or aesthetically pleasing fonts at play here. There is no bureaucratic tempering of language. Instead, every Cuomo PowerPoint sounds like it should be read by Foghorn Leghorn on a bullhorn.

Andrew Cuomo will come enforce social distancing himself if he has to


Consider one signature Cuomo slide. It says that young people in New York City are still gathering in parks. Cuomo’s next bullet simply reads: “I am going there today.” This summons the decidedly funny image of a white polo-ed Cuomo personally breaking up a park gathering, maybe with a vaudevillian cane.

The Cuomo style rebukes the essence of a conventionally effective PowerPoint: it is neither subtle nor complementary. It’s not background noise. Instead, it’s a whole other show within a show. Much like PowerPoint comedy, it turns the traditional presentation on its head — but wholly unironically.

Cuomo’s PowerPoints read like an iPhone notes app list of everything he woke up worrying about in the middle of the night. It’s the text a dad sends with his assorted list of worries. They convey a sense of authenticity, of someone who is sharing his thought process (often bluntly and in ALL CAPS) in real time. Much like how a comedy PowerPoint gives you a peek into the thought process of a comedian, Cuomo’s PowerPoints seem like his a projection of his id: They’re from a loud, bullet-pointed heart.

I know that everything happening in the world makes me want to pretty much scream nonstop. It’s nice to know that’s true of Cuomo too. But his screaming feels at least somewhat productive — and that’s strangely comforting. For those of us for whom slide decks are a part of  our lives, we can seek to embody the Big Cuomo Energy in our own presentations: namely, don’t hold back on the caps.


There is certainly much to criticize Cuomo for, but his PowerPoints aren’t it. If you’re making grounded or lowercase presentations right now, YOU ARE WRONG.

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