steve altes
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 California Based

Steve Altes

Humorist & Rocket Scientist


Steve Altes is the author of the comedic graphic novel Geeks & Greeks, set at MIT and inspired by MIT's culture of hacking and Steve's own experiences with hazing.

Known for his humorous essays, Steve's specialty is getting hired into unusual occupations and writing funny accounts of his misadventures. Some escapades he has written about include working as a hand model, a stand-in for Brad Pitt, a stunt man on Die Hard With A Vengeance, a bank robber at the FBI Academy, an aide to President-elect Bill Clinton, and applying to the CIA.

His humor essays have been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including the Boston Phoenix, Capital Style, Funny Times, the Los Angeles Times, Penthouse, P.O.V., Salon, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, and The Writer.

He is the author of two humor books, The Little Book of Bad Business Advice (St. Martin's, 1997) and If You Jam the Copier, Bolt (Andrews McMeel, 2001). His work also appears in the humor anthologies, May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor (HarperCollins, 2004) and Joke Express: Instant Delivery of 1,424 Funny Bits from the Best Comedians, (Andrews McMeel, 2006). He has been a commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and a member of Us Weekly magazine's "Fashion Police" (ironic if you knew how he dressed). Steve's career as a humorist actually began in college when he began selling absurd letters to the editor to National Lampoon.

Steve holds three degrees from MIT: a bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering, a master's in Aerospace Engineering, and a master's in Technology and Policy. Steve's thesis on the U.S. space program was the only college thesis in history ever reviewed by The New York Review of Books. He was a co-recipient of the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest award for technological achievement, for his work on the Pegasus air-launched space booster.

1962 - 1995: The Serious Years

What we do know is that Steve holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): a bachelor's and master's in Aerospace Engineering as well as a master's in Public Policy. At MIT, he conducted research on space station construction techniques using SCUBA gear and a full-size underwater Space Shuttle mock-up at the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center.

He led a team of MIT students in designing and building a five-person, forty-foot long, high technology "bicycle," to break the world land speed record of 63 mph for a human powered vehicle. This invention is on display at the Boston Museum of Science.

Steve's 1986 master's thesis on the future of the U.S. space program was quoted in numerous magazines and cited in congressional testimony. It became the only college thesis in history ever reviewed by The New York Review of Books.

After the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the Office of Technology Assessment (Congress's think tank) asked Steve to participate in a thorough review of the nation's space transportation systems. After two years on Capitol Hill, he left government to follow his entrepreneurial urges.

At Orbital Sciences Corporation Steve became Program Control Manager for Pegasus, the world's first privately-developed space launch vehicle. This rocket was so revolutionary that in 1991 Steve and the other Pegasus team members were presented with the National Medal of Technology by President Bush in a White House ceremony.

The National Medal of Technology is the nation's highest award for technological innovation. At age 28, Steve was the youngest person ever awarded this Medal. Steve and the Pegasus team also received the 1990 National Air and Space Museum's Trophy for Current Achievement in Aerospace.

In 1992 he joined the Clinton-Gore campaign and worked closely with astronaut Sally Ride on the Presidential Transition Team generating options for reorganizing NASA.

The next few years he worked as a free-lance consultant for several Washington, DC high-tech firms in capacities as varied as finance, marketing, business development, and government relations.

1995 - present: The Silly Years

In 1995, Steve threw his high-priced education down the toilet and began work as an actor and model. Since then he has appeared in over 500 print ads and television commercials, as well as the films Shadow Conspiracy, The Peacemaker, Random Hearts, Girl Interrupted, Hollow Man and Spy Game.

In 1997, St. Martin's Press published his Little Book of Bad Business Advice, a collection of humorous quips and maxims about business life. A sequel, If You Jam the Copier, Bolt, was published in 2001 by Andrews McMeel.

Steve's reputation as an essayist continues to grow. Typically, he gets hired into unusual occupations and writes wry accounts of his misadventures. These undercover exploits have earned him the title "George Plimpton of his generation."

Some of the escapades Steve has written about include: aide to Bill Clinton, FBI trainer, CIA applicant, stand-in for Brad Pitt, hand model, and stripper. His self-deprecating articles have run in places like Salon, P.O.V., National Lampoon, Washington Post, Washingtonian, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, Boston Phoenix, Christian Science Monitor, Woman's Own, Complete Woman, and Zink. Steve is also a commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

Today Steve works as a writer, speaker, and business consultant. He lives outside of Los Angeles, where he is made uncomfortable writing about himself in the third-person.

But enough about Steve... let's talk about you. Whoops, we're out of time. Sorry about that. Next time I promise not to monopolize the conversation so.

Steve Altes: Program Outlines

Corporate Comedy

Humorous observations about the working world will amuse your group and let them know it's okay to laugh at the frustrating aspects of their jobs. Any group that can laugh at itself is a healthy one and on track for continued success.

After Dinner Speeches (Confessions of a ... )
Personal and professional stories guaranteed to keep the audience entertained. Humorous and lively, an excellent ending to your evening.

Unleash Your Power Using the Secret Techniques of Professional Actors

(Presented with Diana Jellinek)
In this dynamic and interactive event, participants will unlock their potential in all areas (voice, charisma, energy, body language, humor and more) using advanced techniques employed by professional actors. The result is a dramatic breakthrough in one's ability to communicate, persuade others, and captivate an audience. Presentation and leadership skills increase astronomically.

Communications Workshop
Fresh observations on communication, delivered in a humorous fashion.


  • Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc.
  • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials
  • Messenger and Courier Association of the Americas
  • Advanced Media Design, Inc.
  • International Communications Industries Association, Inc.
  • Borders Books
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Mid-Atlantic ShowBiz Forum
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • MIT Enterprise Forum
  • MIT Club of Cincinnati
  • MIT Club of Washington, DC
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Erie Community College
  • College of the Canyons
  • Rutgers University
  • Fayetteville-Manlius Education Foundation

Some Quotes from Steve's Clients:

"Steve's keynote speech was hilarious. We didn't want him to get off the stage." - Kate Collins Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle

"The feedback we've received on our nanotechnology conference has been very positive. Rarely have we had a moderator who was as prepared, polished, and well-spoken as you were." - Joseph Hadzima Chairman, M.I.T. Enterprise Forum

"It was obvious that Steve did his research on our group." - Nancy McKean Professional Development Manager, Valley Emergency Communications Center

"You made our Alternative Career Forum a success. Your thoughtful comments helped our students gain a better understanding of the range of things that can be done with an engineering degree." - Wendy Cheng Career Forum Director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Steve has a keen ability to connect with his audience. His deep scientific and technical knowledge was essential in handling and interpreting some complex questions during the Q&A session. Without his thorough preparation and delivery skills, the program would not have been the success it was." - Lou Alexander Director, Alumni Education, M.I.T.

"Your presentation changed my life. I’ll never be the same. My ability to connect with other people increased drastically." - James Fowler Lawyer, New York City

"The best seminar I've ever attended. You captured the audience with your energy and passion. Hopefully some of that rubbed off on me." - Lillie Athanas Rutgers University


Promotional Info


Speech Topics:
Humor Communication Entertainment