Recently, four Sloanies appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss an MBA oath circulated by Harvard MBA students to other schools nationwide. The result is a hilarious and informative look at business ethics. Take a look but note: this clip is a bit risqué in spots. If you don’t like off-color humor, you may not want to watch. You’ve been warned.

In the clip, these are the MITers, front row (L-R): Samantha Joseph MBA ’09, Leland Cheung MBA ’11, Roy Ben-Ami MBA ’09. Back row on right: Amanda Peyton MBA ’10. The man in the back row is from Harvard. All of the Sloanies answered some questions about their experience on the show. Read those below—including an unaired joke.

Sloanies on The Daily Show

How did you happen to appear on The Daily Show?

Ben-Ami: Genevieve Lydstone MBA ’09 posted on our Sloan message board on behalf of her friend whose boyfriend is a researcher for The Daily Show. They were doing a piece on the Harvard Business School MBA oath and were “looking for MBAs who would consciously decline to sign the oath, to participate in a bit spoofing the attention this oath movement has gotten.” I emailed the researcher and after a couple of phone conversations with him and the producer, I got the message that I was in. The show flew us all to NYC for the shooting.

Joseph: I responded to [the posting] right away, not expecting it to go anywhere but the producer emailed back immediately. I spoke with him and another producer the next day to share my opinions and they booked me on a red eye the following day. I flew in from Seattle just for the taping.

Were any of you fans of the show?

Ben-Ami: I am a big fan of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

Joseph: I am a fan of the show but not a daily viewer.

Peyton: I’m a huge fan and have been watching for years.

Cheung: I’m also a huge fan and have been watching for years.

How rehearsed was the entire clip?

Joseph: The interview was not rehearsed at all. We actually filmed for a total of seven hours and the interview took at least three to four hours. We answered a lot of questions over and over. It was a fairly relaxed filming, we were given the freedom to say what we wanted and even introduce ideas we thought might be funny. There was a lot of great stuff said that didn’t make it into the clip. Having watched it now, and seeing how little was aired, I’m surprised they didn’t just give a script with a few lines each and tape the whole thing in ten minutes, but they clearly believe that the funny stuff comes from a natural, unrehearsed, unscripted conversation. Only the last part is a sketch, where we were asked to simulate an MBA brainstorming session.

Peyton: They did want it to be unrehearsed—we didn’t see the questions they were going to ask us ahead of time or anything like that. Sometimes it’s frustrating to feel like you’re not getting your point across, but ultimately the purpose of the show was humor.

Cheung: The interview was not rehearsed, but when they got something they liked we’d often do it repeatedly from different angles and with slightly different intonations and timing. We spent a lot of time talking about the merits and shortcomings of the oath, but a lot of that didn’t make it through to the final clip.

What was it like being interviewed for a fake news show, when you know you may be the butt of a joke or that your presence is meant to elicit laughter?

Ben-Ami: We all knew what we were going into and had fun with it. Despite the fact that this is indeed a fake news shows, it does talk about real issues and makes a point about them. The real point behind our segment was that unlike the way that traditional media has treated the MBA oath (i.e. that this solves all the future corruption problems with business people), the oath in itself is not enough and doesn’t address many of the problems we are facing. Behaving in an ethical manner is a responsibility much greater than just signing an oath and we all tried to show this side and the reasons we chose not to sign it. Overall, I think the show made a valid argument about this relevant sensitive matter (albeit in a funny way).

Joseph: Interestingly, they were having a hard time finding MBAs to tape the show—especially people from Harvard. People were very concerned about their image. I would say that the attitude of myself and everyone who did film it was that this is The Daily Show, they are going to make us look silly but everyone knows that’s how it works. I never worried that being on the show would cause a problem later on in my career. I was really excited about the opportunity! I can say that I have learned an important lesson from the experience. Don’t use complex sentences around journalists and never say “He makes a good point, but…” because it’s too easy to cut. There was a but on all three of my lines so while they didn’t make me look silly, what was aired was definitely not a representation of how I feel. But again, it’s The Daily Show—I’m not surprised! I think making people laugh, even at your own expense, is an amazing opportunity you should never turn down.

Peyton: I think we all knew going in that the segment might make us look silly. I personally didn’t care at all. Contributing to something humorous was enough for me to participate.

Cheung: We had fun throughout the process. We were also aware going in that they were looking for serious responses, and it was John Oliver and his guest star Larry who would be acting irrationally. They standard setup for The Daily Show is that either the correspondent or the interviewee acts a little off and the other is serious. As was discussed with us ahead of time, and I think made it through, the clip is satirical mostly of people’s reaction to the oath. Many in the media are obsessed with having MBAs sign the oath without stopping to think and ask whether it’s really effective. John Oliver and Larry were parodying the extreme position of asking people to sign a meaningless piece of paper, rather than trying to trap us into looking irrational. The only unfortunate thing is they didn’t air much of the thought-provoking discussion we had about the oath and about the need for ethical training in business school as was discussed.

Were you happy with the clip?

Ben-Ami: Yes, loved the clip, but I wish they didn’t cut out so much footage. A lot of the material that was edited out was even funnier and touched on numerous issues of the oath that we wanted to address.

Joseph: I am extremely happy with the clip in the sense that it did what it’s supposed to do—make people laugh and give them a little something to think about. Did it fully express our opinions? No. Were our words twisted? Yes…but again, anyone who goes on The Daily Show would be nuts to think that wouldn’t happen! I will say that after filming, I was really embarrassed I had told my conservative, Jewish (my mom is a Rabbi!) parents (who told all their friends) I would be on air because of the explicit descriptions Larry offered about what would happen to people like us in prison. I didn’t know in advance that sexual violence would be brought up so many times. I’m happy to say that what you saw was just the tip of the iceberg and could have been far more embarrassing! My parents got to watch three hours before me since I’m in Seattle, and I was terrified of their reaction, but even they thought it was funny! It is a little hard, though, having the perspective of knowing what didn’t make it in. There was a lot of really great stuff about how we feel about the oath. I think all of us would like a chance to express those views. My favorite unaired line came from Leland who said “I don’t need to sign an oath to be ethical the same way I didn’t need to wear a promise ring to not have sex in high school” to which John Oliver replied, “Not being able to get laid is not the same thing as choosing not to do it,” or something like that…it was pretty funny!

Peyton: Absolutely. I thought it was really funny. I think people know that The Daily Show is a satirical show so the vast majority of comments I got were from people telling me they thought it was very funny and well done—not accusing me of having questionable ethics.

Cheung: The clip was hilarious and several of the really embarrassing things we said were left on the cutting-room floor. If they wanted to paint us as irrational, unethical, or the butt of the joke they had much better material to present. The fast pace of the clip precluded including the discussion we had about the oath, but I’m writing a review of my experience to point out some of the issues that the skit raises. It’ll be posted on my Web site at: www.LelandCheung.com.