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Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service, not an agency the public typically associates with laughter, hired a vendor named Comedy Workshop Productions, whose website describes it as “a school for wannabe comics” that also offers consulting services and keynote speaker services.
The company’s founder, Judy Carter, even mentioned the hiring on a blog post on the company’s website.
“As I was contemplating how to pay my quarterly taxes, I got a call from the IRS,” she wrote. “Believe it or not, I loved hearing from them as they hired me to do two gigs.”
Ms. Carter’s online LinkedIn account makes clear the IRS wasn’t her only government client over the years, with other agencies listed including the U.S. Senate, the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. Air Force and Navy.
In a statement, IRS officials said the expenditures, totaling more than $16,000, stemmed from two training seminars in September 2009 for local managers in the customer-service operations in Brookhaven and Buffalo, N.Y.
“Each training session included a three-hour workshop conducted by a recognized expert at helping employees deal with stress in the workplace using a lighthearted approach to workplace conflict resolution,” the IRS noted in a prepared statement to The Times.
“Despite the name of this company, this expert was retained to run sessions focused on developing effective communication methods for improving employee and customer relations.”
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