Portfolio task: Profile

Choose a person (or group or organization) you’d like to profile. Do a little research and find out as much as you can about him/her/them. Think about which details you think are really interesting and important and which are not. Try to make it less like a Wikipedia page with ALL the facts, and focus on the aspects of this person or organization that you think are really interesting.

Don’t forget to cite your sources:

  • If you take photos from the internet (or anywhere else but your own camera), write down where you got them (the name of the website…)
  • If you get information from the internet (or anywhere else but your own brain), write down where you got it (not just “The internet” but WHERE on the internet — site name, article title, author, or other relevant source information)

↓ Here’s an example ↓

My example is actually a kind of cross between a profile and a book review.

Al Franken 

Al Franken is an example of someone who really cares about the future of the U.S. And he’s funny. I just finished listening to his book “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate” and I learned a lot about him and his motivations for his first career as a comedian and his current career as a senator. And I laughed a lot.

Franken was born a comedian, really. In the book, he tells about his teenage years when he and his friend Tom Davis became budding comedians. Later, they went on to become writers on the late night comedy  show Saturday Night Live. They were part of the original members of that now very, very famous show. It’s where people like Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray became household names. You may be more familiar with its current jokes and parodies about Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Al Franken (left) and Tom Davis from the movie “Trading Places” with Eddie Murphy.


Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, from Saturday Night Live

After his stint on SNL in the 70s, 80s and 90s, he had a radio show, where he talked to people from various walks of life. One regular guest was Elizabeth Warren, senator of Massachussetts. Franken says that conversations with her and others was a way to learn about politics. He was, in effect, doing his homework. As he learned more about politicians and pundits, he got angrier and angrier about politicians and “journalists” who lie. He wrote a best-selling book in 2003 called “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” which was mostly about the Bush administration, Fox News, and “the right” (the conservative Republicans).

Franken is now in his second term as one of the senators from Minnesota and in the book he details his first, bitterly fought campaign and why he decided to try to become a senator. The previous senator, Paul Wellstone, was a friend and role model for Franken. Wellstone was killed in a plane crash, and the loss of this friend — and the horrible Republican who replaced him — prompted Franken to try to make a difference. He wanted Minnesotans to be represented by someone who cared more about them than his own fame and fortune.

hard worker

The book gives us many examples of how hard he works, partly because it’s in his nature to work hard (he’s a midwesterner, after all) and partly because he felt he had more to prove as a senator with no previous experience in politics and as a former comedian. The story about how he learned to “pivot” is especially funny. To “pivot” is to answer a question from a reporter without really answering it and talking about something else instead.

After becoming a senator, Franken was no longer able to be funny, at least not in public. It’s unbecoming of a seated senator to make the kinds of jokes he made as a comedian. But in this book, he pours out the jokes he’d been holding in (with some restraint, as he’s still a senator). He tells us how he really feels about people like Ted Cruz (senator of Texas and candidate for president in 2016) and Jeff Sessions (former senator and the current Attorney General), and, of course, Donald Trump.

He ends the book on a positive note, though, and gives the readers some things to do to feel less impotent in today’s Trump World. Basically, he tells us to not give up, but to keep trying to stay informed and be active, in whatever ways we can.

I wonder if he will run for president. I doubt it. It would probably destroy him. But he would be a very good president.


I didn’t do any outside research for this task except for reading the book.