The Dallas Stars have the greatest jumbotron in the NHL – and all others must bow down in its presence.
Just kidding … sort of.
Dallas’ jumbotron has become pretty famous for trolling multiple organizations and situations. Whether they’re in Canada, the United States or ‘Catfished’ football players, all are puny in the presence of the Stars jumbotron.
Dallas game ops – which controls the almighty jumbotron – includes far more than just snark. It’s a group of people who like Monty Python, and try to skate the fine line between funny and offensive. And they generally do a good job of it.
We chatted with Jason Walsh, who is the Stars' assistant vice-president for broadcasting and creative.
He’s not exactly the man behind the tron, but part of the group that creates the jokes.
Q: So that Winnipeg bit – amongst others. How do they all come about?
WALSH: We have a pretty good group of people who do our show. They’re all pretty funny individuals to be honest. And we decided about two years ago, as we realized we were probably going to be moving into a new division, that we need to create some rivalries. So that got us thinking that we are basically going to engage those fan bases, but do it in a tasteful way. So… tasteful is something that can be taken differently depending on what side you’re on. People in Winnipeg may not have appreciated our comments. However, we felt we didn’t take advantage of any individual player on the team, or the franchise itself because that would not be in good taste. But we’ll take pot shots at Winnipeg, Toronto or Colorado, and you guys can take pot shots at us. That’s great. We’re just needling each other. At the end of the day you have people who go to these games and they pay you to watch a hockey game. They’re also paying to be entertained. It’s one of the hardest things to do, is to get people to laugh … and to be interested in the rivalry. That’s kind of the general thought process behind all the things we do is … we want to create a little rivalry, we appreciate all the teams in our division, or just within the league itself, and when the opportunity reveals itself, we will make people laugh if we can.
How difficult is it to walk the line, and not overstep your bounds but be funny for a huge audience?
It’s a very difficult line to walk, but I think though once you create it and you get a good laugh out of it before it ever goes to air, you sit back and say ‘Who can possibly be offended by this?’ and then you run through the gambit of options and you feel that this is within good taste, so we’re going to run with it. That’s the way we look at it. You don’t want to come across as cheap. You don’t want the cheap laugh, that’s not worth it. You can get a big laugh, but it’s not worth it at the end of the day. You want something that’s a little inquisitive, a little bit funny and make people laugh. That’s the goal.
You guys seem to realize that it’s OK to not take yourselves too seriously either, no?
People come to our games or tune into our games to get away from real life. It doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. That’s what they’re doing … coming to be entertained. They want to watch the game, they want to see a win hopefully and they want to have a few laughs. That’s all you try to provide at the end of the night.
Who is the Monty Python fan on you staff?
We have an individual, his name is Jason Danby, he’s the director of game entertainment, and he’s an invaluable asset to our organization. He’s a guy who should get all the credit for taking this in-arena presentation from where it used to be to where it is now. He has been around the organization for about eight years and has been running the show for the last two years. There is a bit of a group of people who come up with different things. He spearheads a lot of it, but there are other individuals as well.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: