Harvard Band Members Defend Their Halftime Humor Shows

The Council of Ivy Group Presidents' recent advice that the schools' bands curtail sexual innuendo and political jokes of "questionable taste" during football games prompted Harvard Band members to defend their half-time shows yesterday.

Parent and alumni complaints about several recent, well-publicized instances of musical indiscretion led to the council's action. During a game several years ago, television coverage was interrupted when Yale's band dropped its pants in front of the cameras.

President Bok said yesterday, that Harvard's representative to the council had not told him about the warning. "Although I haven't been to all that many football games this year. I haven't been really offended by any," Bok added.

Bands enjoy a "captive audience" and they "tend to overlook this and think that they have some First Amendment right to do pretty much as they please." Bok said.

Harvard Band members defended their humor. "At the Yale game, we formed 'MBA' and the B-School alums stood up and cheered," drillmaster Dave Pinto said yesterday.


Pinto said the board routinely submits its material to the Department of Athletics for approval.

"The blatant sexual jokes get reworded and references to Congressmen who get arrested for sodomy are stricken, but most of our stuff is okayed." Pinto said.

"We need an outlet for creativity. Stifle our sense of humor, which is mainly political anyway, and you'll have a lot of unhappy band people." drum major Robert Stemmons '82 said yesterday.


"Yale includes a lot of animal sex in their shows," former drum major Paul Micou '81 said yesterday.

harvard's half-time humor is more subtle. Stemmons said, adding. "we're the cleverest, not the raunchiest."

Ivy League bands traditionally have relied less on their sense of humor to carry them through half-time, band members said.

Marsha Ellard '82, band manager, said yesterday that the emphasis on the humorous will not change. Dismissing the council's warnings, she said. "This sort of thing happens every five years or so."

Stemmons said the band has "settled down considerably. Once we had a helicopter land on the field."