That time Dana Carvey went off script at the Microsoft Company Meeting

Raymond Chen

Throughout the 1990’s, the Microsoft stock price had an overall upward trend. Employees would sell their stock in order to make a major purchase, or to fund a vacation, or simply to cash in on the rise. But no matter when you sold your stock, you always sold it too soon. People joked about driving a $70,000 Honda Civic because they sold stock years earlier to buy the car at $10,000. The car depreciated quickly. The stock didn’t.

It was customary for a time for the Microsoft Company Meeting to hire a celebrity host, usually a comedian, to liven things up. Dana Carvey was the host for a company meeting in the early 1990’s, and one of the sketches he performed was a humorous interview with Bill Gates. The questions and answers were scripted, but Dana Carvey decided to ask a question that wasn’t on the script:

“Say, Bill, if I had bought a thousand shares of Microsoft stock 20 years ago, would I be a gazillionaire like you?”

I got the impression that Bill was not a fan of going off script, but he was ready with a comeback.

“Nah, you would have sold it too soon.”

That quip brought the house down.



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  • Andre Needham 0

    The funniest part I remember from that meeting was also ad-libbed, by Dana Carvey, after Steve Ballmer’s usual amped-up speech.  Steve actually retold it in Sports Illustrated at some point: “Funny story. We were doing a Microsoft company meeting. This was ’89, ’90, ’91. I was either engaged to my wife or just married. I gave a speech, and I was wearing a dark blue shirt. The speaker after me was Dana Carvey, the comedian, who was there for entertainment. He gets up onstage and says, “If Mrs. Ballmer is in the audience, I just have three words for you! Sniff. Arrid! Sniff. Extra! Sniff. Dry!” She was mortified. I really pitted that shirt out.”

  • Mystery Man 0

    I pity the fool who sold too late.

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