CBS Follies Return With Best MBA Parodies Yet

Columbia Business School Follies 2017 is one of the best ever

The application process can be pretty impersonal. Candidates must dredge through their fears and failings, and pour their souls into their essays. For that, they wait months to get a “yea” or “nay.” Wouldn’t it be better if applicants could pitch adcoms like on a singing competition?

Chances are, it’d go far worse according to a new skit from the CBS Follies.


The wisecracks from Uris are back. This time, they aren’t sparing anyone in the Columbia community – or beyond. Take “The Choice,” a parody of NBC’s The Voice. Here, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, and Pharrell Williams have been replaced by Wharton, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and NYU. Like the show, the Follies judges are as dysfunctional and entertaining as the acts.

Look no further than Wharton, the lover of sociopaths and candidates with wealthy last names. When the son of a jewelry magnate hits the stage, the (fictitious) Wharton adcom purrs, “Come here, booboo. Mama loves her diamonds.” Harsh? Maybe, but Wharton gets off easy in this skit. Harvard channels Gilligan’s Island’s Thurston Howell III, with an equal air of entitlement and impotence. In contrast, Yale is portrayed as a pretentious, do-good naif who constantly jumps off script to raise consciousness (and funds). Better yet, Dartmouth is a baffling brew of Morgan Freeman’s noble delivery with Rod McKuen’s muddy metaphors.

Alas, the Follies aren’t above satirizing themselves, either. The Columbia adcom, for example, dozes off for much of the competition – leaving Yale SOM to drool over the “gay, Native American disabled veteran.” CBS even goes easy on its intracity rival – the “We’ll take anyone” NYU Stern – which (spoiler alert) walks off with the show’s celebrity applicant.


Want to take a pulse of what’s happening at Columbia (and business schools in general)? The CBS Follies are a good place to start. Founded in the 1980s – though the club claims its lineage can be traced back to Alexander Hamilton – the CBS Follies lampoon the personalities, buzzwords, cultural mores, and experiences that make up the business school. Think of it as an anthropological odyssey that explores everything from ill-advised hookups to academic overload. Often, they do it through popular culture, with crackerjack singing and choreography that’d make Weird Al Yankovic tear up with pride.

Held at the end of each semester, the CBS Follies also serves as a unifying event where the community can blow off a semester’s worth of stress. The school even takes this live variety show to YouTube, with slick videos housed on the CBS Follies channel (which now includes 360 videos). In fact, the eponymous “Bitch In Business” even broke mainstream and has generated over 3.2 million views (so far).

This year’s hijinks may be the best yet, with nary a flop to be found. Think romance is dead? Not according to “NPV,” a take on Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” a skit that proves that even a guy with a 660 GMAT can still find love in business school. Need a quick refresher on corporate finance? These lyrics have acronyms aplenty, not to mention catchy role reversal lines like “You’ll be my Stedman to my Oprah Winfrey.” Thinking of it as the CBS circle of life, where tutoring leads to a PFC (Potential First Coitus) that eventually produces to a baby that steals from their NPV (Net Present Value). Ah, there will always be those memories of business school, right?

I’m in love with your NPV,

And the money you’ll make in IB.

Never settling for an HP.

‘Cuz smart girls are real sexy.



In business school, grades sometimes take a back seat to networking, job hunting, and traveling. Do they matter? That’s the topic of “H or P,” with H associated with high performance and P meaning just passing in CBS’ grading scale. The song is a take on “Black or White” by Michael Jackson, the Roy Moore of his generation. Call it the slacker’s anthem, where students opt for fun and frenching over accounting and analytics. At Columbia, the spirit of Ferris Buehler is alive-and-well as students take solace in the school’s grade non-disclosure policy. This message is clear: Drink up, ladies and gentleman of CBS. Employers don’t care about grades…until Darden or Booth grads start running circles around you, that is.

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