Over the years, I’ve witnessed some of the uglier facets of comedy contests as both a participant and as a judge. Last night, however, I saw the sunnier side at the ECNY Awards (please don’t call them the Emerging Comics of New York anymore) ceremony at Comix in New York City. Even before the showcase started, you could see something special happening. Comedians got dressed up. There was a red carpet. Small, to be sure, but still there and still red with correspondents talking to a camera in footage that presumably will wind up on the Internet. A very festive air. And so nice to see a scene — or at least a distinctly unique scene — come together in celebration of the art of comedy. Host Jon Friedman said they changed the name of the awards KFC-like to just ECNY to show they were rewarding all sorts of comedy, not just the emerging kind. At the same time, though, it would’ve been nice to really see all of New York comedy represented in the room. When the ceremony ended, several comedians had to turn around and go back to their table because they didn’t have their proper receipts on hand for the door guys. We spent the night in a traditional comedy club with traditional item minimums and rules, and yet we could’ve used a few more traditional club comedians. Maybe next year?
Anyhow. I was saying how nice the night was, right?
Some highlights: The show opened with a six-minute video montage of the nominees speaking directly to the camera. Well-edited. And made funnier after Joe Mande said it’d be creepy if this montage turned out to be their memorial video. Friedman, not only hosting the show but also an organizer and a nominee for best host, acknowledged the conflict, quipping: "This for me is a lose-lose." Later, when he lost, he immediately asked the other "losers" in his category to play his Rejection Show. Another big laugh line from Friedman: "I was told to be very Seacresty." Scott Bateman provided professional animated videos to list all of the nominees. And most of the award presenters brought it, too. Matt McCarthy, presenting best director, opened the proceedings with a wicked Stanley Kubrick from the set of The Shining. Andres Du Bouchet delivered the opening and closing lines from Act 1 of his upcoming fictional one-man-show (100 and Me Percent?) that went over so well, he almost wasn’t joking when he said, "I can tell it’s going to be a big hit." The Whitest Kids U’Know went to see a psychic yesterday for help determining the best sketch group winners. Carolyn Castiglia joked: "It’s great to see so many comedians get dressed up to get drunk and cry. Usually I do it naked and covered in pizza!"
What else? All of the musical comedy nominees performed during the show. Only Reggie Watts got a standing ovation. And didn’t win. Eddie Brill received the first "lifetime achievement award" and really took it to heart, confessing in his speech, "I’ve never been more nervous." They also debuted a new soap opera parody from A.D. Miles called "Horrible People" that’ll begin airing soon online on My Damn Channel. I sat next to Jordan Carlos and Andrew WK. Carlos was nice. WK was nice, but awfully quiet aside from his brief stint as a presenter. The show limited acceptance speeches to 30 seconds, but the show still lasted close to two-and-a-half hours. The afterparty at Comix lasted just as long. At said afterparty, Nate Sloan from The Apiary wanted Todd Jackson from Dead-Frog and I to dish our "hot tips." I’m no Gossip Girl. XOXO.
The winners! Congrats to all, for whatever an ECNY Award is worth, you got one! Hooray!
Best Director: Kurt Braunohler
Best Improv Group: I Eat Pandas
Best One Person Show: Nick Kroll (Fabrice Fabrice)
Best Sketch Comedy Group: Harvard Sailing Team
Outstanding Achievement in Flyer or Postcard Design: The Apple Sisters (Matthew C. Johnson, Keith Huang)
Best Technician: Pat Baer
Best Short Comedic Film: Minesweeper: The Movie (Elephant Larry)
Best Website, Original Content: The Onion News Network
Best Website, News and Commentary: The Apiary
Best Host: Eugene Mirman and Michael Showalter, Tearing the Veil of Maya
Emerging Comic Award: Joe Mande
Best Musical Comedy Act: The Apple Sisters
Best Female Stand-up: Kristen Schaal
Best Male Stand-up: John Mulaney
And for those of you playing the Full Disclosure Home Game, four of the five producers of the ECNY Awards also were up for awards (the exception: Alex Goldberg). Friedman (host) and Carol Hartsell (tech) didn’t win. Alex Zalben (sketch) and Nate/The Apiary (website/news) won. I was not nominated. Snub? Jackson joked to me that I was too new to New York City to get a nod and would have to wait my turn, like Barack Obama. I’ll take an Obama comparison, so thanks, Todd!
UPDATED/CORRECTED! I cleaned up a couple of things in this post that weren’t entirely clear when I first wrote them (thank you, commenters!). Also, if you want to see what I look like, as well as Dead-Frog’s Todd Jackson, there is a lovely picture of us taken last night by Rachel Kramer Bussel!
This is a photo from last night’s ECNY Awards afterparty at Comix, taken by friend of comedy Rachel Kramer Bussel. I’m on the left. Todd Jackson of Dead-Frog is on the right.