The messy 2010 Streamy Awards, and what they say about how we watch the WWW now

Each year, Paul Scheer presides over one of the most raucous, madcap moments in comedy as host of the improvised Match Game parody that happens in the wee hours during the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater's Del Close Marathon. Did that prepare Scheer for the mess that was last night's Streamy Awards? Not exactly. As Scheer posted via Twitter overnight afterward: "Thanks everyone for watching the Streamy Award Tech Rehearsal."

Even before everything stopped working properly, the second annual Streamy Awards were a bit confusing for people inside the Orpheum in Los Angeles and everywhere else watching online. Nick Kroll and Jon Daly as "The Ed Hardy Boyz" shocked and awed the crowd with their repartee, and later on, Rob Huebel as a porn pioneer receiving a lifetime achievement Streamy brought even more raunch. And that's not even counting the two streakers, or the two other YouTubers who jumped the stage to jump Chris Hardwick and "LisaNova." Felicia Day, who won a Streamy for the second straight year, went on Twitter afterward to apologize, saying: "Sorry to any of our fans who watched and were offended by the raunchiness at the Streamys.The tone of humor was not honoring the evening IMO." Here's a glimpse of what happened with Hardwick and his rant afterward:

The Fine Brothers presented a video that froze up. Buffering, buffering, nope. Mark Douglas and other Streamy nominee presented a video that turned out to be the wrong one, replaying clips from previous nominees. Both times, Scheer bounded back onstage to help improvise his way through the issues. But in a weird twist, Scheer's mic seemed to remain always on throughout the three-plus hours, which meant we could hear him murmuring and commenting backstage several times. The Streamy-winning director of The Guild said he was confused: "Why is Patrick Duffy here?" Well, that's actually a different kind of confusion, because Duffy is part of the online revolution, too. Scheer joked that none of this would ever be seen on TV, yet it helped him prepare for next week, when he'd be hosting "The Trainwreck Awards." And Streamy-winner Kevin Pollak quipped that "This is by far the best rehearsal of an awards show that I have ever attended!"

But who won? 

Audience Choice: Agents of Cracked

Best Comedy Web Series: Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

Best Drama Web Series: The Bannen Way

Best Hosted Web Series: Diggnation

Best News or Political Series: Auto-Tune the News

Best Animated Web Series: How It Should Have Ended

Best Branded Entertainment Web Series: Back on Topps (Topps, Dick’s Sporting Goods)

Best Directing for a Comedy Web Series: The Guild (Sean Becker)

Best Directing for a Drama Web Series: The Bannen Way (Jesse Warren)

Best Writing for a Comedy Web Series: Wainy Days (David Wain)

Best Writing for a Drama Web Series: Compulsions (Bernie Su)

Best Male Actor in a Comedy Web Series: Zach Galifianakis (Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis)

Best Female Actor in a Comedy Web Series: Felicia Day (The Guild)

Best Male Actor in a Drama Web Series: Mark Gantt (The Bannen Way)

Best Female Actor in a Drama Web Series: Rachael Hip-Flores (Anyone But Me)

Best Ensemble Cast in a Web Series: Easy to Assemble (Illeana Douglas, Justine Bateman, Eric Lange, Michael Irpino, Cheri Oteri, Daryl Sabara, Michael Panes, Rob Mailhouse, Sean Durrie, Tom Arnold, Ed Begley Jr., Tim Meadows, Ricki Lake, Greg Proops, Kevin Pollak, Allan Havey)

Best Guest Star in a Web Series: “Weird Al” Yankovic (Know Your Meme)

Best Web Series Host: Zadi Diaz (Epic Fu)

Best Vlogger: Shane Dawson (ShaneDawsonTV)

Click here for the complete list of the 2010 Streamy Craft Award winners.

While one of the founders of YouTube won a special award, the night played up the distinct differences between the YouTube community and its "stars," compared to the, well, let's face it, more talented and mature performers who were aligned with corporations and companies — the Funny or Die, My Damn Channel, Crackle, Atom and other brand names. It was interesting to see comments on YouTube overnight about the Streamys overwhelmingly siding with the YouTubers and against any of the other comedic performers.

Shane Dawson, who won Best Vlogger, is a case in point. Dawson recently got a big New York Times profile billing him as "YouTube's Comic for the Under-30 Set." So I guess I'm too old to figure him out? Should I even try? Well I did. So did Molly Knefel, who in expressing her displeasure about Dawson being micro-famous, prompted the NYT writer to reply. I don't get Dawson. Nor do I really get some of the other very popular YouTube "vloggers." Dawson has more than 1.4 million subscribers on one channel, and launched a second one that's quickly approaching a million. He's young and making money by talking into a camera. From what I've seen of him — as well as the other regular vloggers with big subscription numbers — there's no there there. YouTube may allow 21st-century angst-ridden teens to find people who speak for them, but that's not making any of these mouthpieces particularly funny or special. They just managed to game the system. Perhaps helping my point, the only "older" YouTubers making waves, such as the What The Buck guy or LisaNova, are at least trying to provide a high-quality online experience.

It all makes me wonder if we're straddling a great generation gap.

We used to have TV networks and people who served as gatekeepers to ensure that what we consumed as viewers had satisfied some sort of quality assurance. Even places such as Funny or Die, My Damn Channel and Atom do this, too, paying and promoting professional comedians, while still "allowing" outsiders to contribute at a lower level of recognition. YouTube, however, is where all of the eyeballs go, and YouTube promotes simply what people are watching, no matter its quality.

I feel like this year's Streamy Awards are only the latest example in showing just how fragmented the Internet audience has become. What will this portend for 2011? I don't pretend to know. But I do hope to help figure this all out.

Related: My Damn Channel, one of the bigger winners of this year's Streamys, also sent its own Grace and Michelle to cover the Streamys.

Furthermore: Mark Malkoff served as the official red-carpet guy. You can watch some of his coverage here (skip ahead to the 13th minute, based on this video).

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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