The eighth annual New York Nightlife Awards held their celebration Monday night with Bruce Vilanch hosting performances from the previously announced winners in cabaret, jazz and comedy at Town Hall. The New York Times sent a reporter who filed this piece for today's paper.
At first, I confused the New York Nightlife Awards with the MAC Awards, which also are NYC-based and honor the same three subgenres of the performing arts scene in cabaret, jazz and comedy. How are they different? Well, let's look at the recent comedy winners of each contest.
The New York Nightlife Awards have three comedy categories: Outstanding Comedian in a Major Engagement, Outstanding Comedian, and Outstanding Comedy Duo or Group. This year, those awards went to Louis CK, John Mulaney, and Slovin & Allen, respectively. All of those winners are certainly funny. But. Not to quibble (cue the quibbling), I'm fairly certain that Slovin & Allen's 2009 work together consisted of writing and producing sketches in Los Angeles for broadcast on HBO in 2010. Their duo/group winners last year were a tie between Improvised Shakespeare and Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schaal. Also, they've named Mulaney outstanding comedian three years in a row, and CK outstanding major comedian two of the past three years (bracketing Mike Birbiglia's win last year). Not that any of these winners aren't worthy; it's just that the judging panel needs to get out more.
As for the MAC Awards, they just closed nomination applications for 2010 awards this past Saturday, Jan. 23. They have a few more comedy categories, with separate awards for men and women (the NY Nightlife Awards used to do that before 2007, apparently). Last year, MAC Awards went to these comedians: Maureen Langan, Rick Younger, Jackie Hoffman, Mario Cantone, and Chicago City Limits. In 2008, those same awards went to the following: Poppi Kramer, Michael Brill, Susie Essman, Jim David, and Chicago City Limits again. In 2007? Poppi Kramer and Michael Brill again, Greg Giraldo, Julie Goldman, and The Next Big Broadway Musical.
But if you want real proof of how many different comedy circles operate within New York City, take a look at the ECNY Awards. This year's awards are in the middle phase in which the "Industry Committee" winnows down the field of open nominations in several categories, and has until the end of this week to do so (Note: I'm an Industry Committee member, and also was nominated for an ECNY last year). Want to know how wide and varied the NYC comedy scene is? There were more than 2,500 unique acts nominated in the 15 categories (there are 263 different comedy hosts in the city?!).