I was more than tempted to write something whiny and petulant about the ECNY Awards, but then I saw Marc Maron in a Twitter "fight" today with one of his followers about the principle of paying for art (you should definitely pay for art, whether it's a podcast, a creative performance, or this very Website), and then I saw that Funny or Die had filmed a public service video with Heidi Montag (so they obviously are hard up for cash, because why, why, why), and then I saw even more people were following and media outlets were interviewing a 19-year-old that Conan O'Brien followed for no particular reason whatsoever on Twitter, so really, maybe this is just a lost cause. Anyhow. When I saw Gabe Delahaye a couple of weeks ago, I told him that his Videogum and its mighty minions would beat me handily for "Best Website," so I called it. Still. No matter how silly you think any awards are, when they announce them live and decide to nominate you, there's a moment right before the announcement when you get nervous, and moments afterward where they've announced someone else's name when you have to remind yourself that it's just a silly award. I'd much rather have a job that pays my rent and offers me health insurance, vacation and sick days. So if you have one of those, please consider hiring me? Thanks!
In the meantime, here are your 6th annual ECNY Awards winners...
Best Improv Group: I Eat Pandas
Best One Person Show: Supernormal – Tom Shillue
Best Website: Videogum.com
Best Host: Gabe Liedman, Jenny Slate and Max Silvestri
Best Book: Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled – Jon Friedman
Best Sketch Comedy Group: Murderfist
Best Technician: Carol Hartsell
Best Variety Show: Risk! True Tales Boldly Told
Outstanding Achievement in Postcard or Flyer Design: Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps – Mindy Tucker
Best Short Comedic Film: Everyone Poops Trailer – Landline TV
Emerging Comic Award: Myq Kaplan
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Tweeting: @Lizzwinstead
Best Musical Comedy Act (Group or Solo): Snakes
Best Female Standup Comedian: Morgan Murphy
Best Male Standup Comedian: Hannibal Buress
I have plenty of other thoughts about the ECNY Awards, and comedy awards in general, but I'll save those for another time and place.
Fred Phelps believes that "God Hates Fags," because that is his Website and he's that guy who sends out people across the land to picket anything and everything and say that it's all happening because gay sex turns God's smile upside down and forces God to kill people. Perhaps you've seen them? They showed up in Brooklyn recently, but alas, they were not here to protest comedian Brent Sullivan's new one-man show, Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps.
Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps debuts Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. Photo of Brent Sullivan by Mindy Tucker.
"Phelps' family came to Brooklyn for another reason, I think," Sullivan told me via email. "However, (directors Dave Hill and Eliot Glazer) and I are trying very hard to get them to protest the show as well. It's my dream, in fact. I don't think it's too far-fetched. He/his family protests ALL over the country, almost every weekend. I don't know where they get the money from."
Sullivan's show explores his own experiences with the gay community, through the rainbow prism that is the rambling rants of homophobe Phelps. Here is a Phelps video in which he accuses the entire University of Nebraska of being fags, now with added commentary from Sullivan:
Sullivan said his intent was to make a show about being gay that was straight-friendly, Phelps' approval notwithstanding. "I wanted to write a show about my experiences with the gay community without taking a stereotypical approach," he said. Which means being willing to poke fun at the gay community. "I think it's important that some of us begin to call out what's cliche, inappropriate and outdated in our community. I think this show does some of that."
He'll do that not only through some jokes he normally uses in his stand-up act about gay online dating or AIDS, but also through politics. "The entire show is framed with AMAZING quotes from Fred Phelps, who is the freak who started godhatesfags.com and tours the nation protesting the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq because they died for a nation that supports homosexuality," Sullivan said. "His quotes are, of course, incredibly offensive but when taken a little out of context they become very funny. There's nothing I enjoy more than making something seemingly very offensive, very funny."
Prelim 4 is when everything you thought you knew about the Boston Comedy Festival contest went out the window and onto the bricks and cobblestones below. A much stronger field of contenders — perhaps five or six of the 12 comics could’ve landed the two semifinalist slots. And yet. Well…let’s go to the recap.
In order of appearance:
1) Jim Tews: Remarks on his Coast Guard past and how that’s not exactly the best thing to have on his resume. Has interesting uses for the memo line on checks. Being poor is the difference between bologna and ham. “Bologna tastes like failure.” Closes with a letter he wrote to cigarettes not long after quitting smoking. Understated, but quite funny.
2) Stewart Huff: Looks like a mini-Me Mitch Hedberg, but with a Tennessee drawl (and lots of other differences, but enough about that). His mic gets disconnected early on, which could spell trouble (they eventually trade out mics later in the show). Most of his set revolves around hick gas stations — the “pump-n-munch” — but it’s a fully-formed, solid routine. A good start to the show.
3) Benjamin Roy: Drinking, jail, sex, in that order. It’s funny, yes, but too raw for this type of contest.
4) Danny Rouhier: If you go to his Web page, you’ll see a Current TV video titled: “Are you a hack?” Rouhier ends his set by mocking the Boston accent and its misuse of the letter ‘R.’ I’ll now refer you back two sentences.
5) Mike Baker: Apparently, Mike has sex on the brain. Audience members want to make out with him, but he’s married. With kids. And that’s a problem. Because they’re cockblockers. Can I say that on this blog? Can he devote almost his entire set to not having sex with his wife and make it to the semis? Stay tuned.
6) Adam Ginivisian: I can describe his set in one word. Emersonian.
7) David Powell: Wry observations, one after the other. Each one of them quite funny. The kind of set that wins comedy contests. And yet…
8) Brent Sullivan: Acts out a delightful scene depicting how you’d react to a raccoon in your trash can, and suggested an intriguing telephone game to try out. The game: “Who would you rather f—?” “Try to keep them on the phone for at least three names,” Sullivan advised. It was funnier than it looks here on non-paper.
9) Murv Seymour: Why is Sinbad cursing onstage? What, that’s not Sinbad. My sin. My bad. Otherwise good jokes about black people going to Denny’s, shark safety tips (in both cases, why? and why? respectively).
10) Kelly MacFarland: Gets an applause break for her bit on running. Infectious personality. Funny stuff. Like I said, this judging will be interesting. Afterward, her quote to me: “Kelly MacFarland was funny, in a kind of cutesy way. And she had nice hair.”
11) Bob Gautreau: Calls himself an “impressionist,” which is another of the most overused, misused phrases in comedy, if not the world, since he is an impersonator. Monet was an Impressionist. Gautreau impersonates Robert DeNiro AND Sylvester Stallone. Can you believe that? Wow. I’m going to stop now and let Mike Baker take over: “If Kelly and I lose to Bob Gautreau, I’m going to…” Let me stop Baker right there, since he has eaten those words.
12) Tim Kaelin: Devotes almost his entire set to drinking and driving. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
For time-killing, Mr. Juston McKinney. Good stuff from the former Mainer. Although, as my memory recalls, in 2002 in Aspen, he won the festival prize for cleanest stand-up. Times have changed.
The judges have tallied the scores. Your prelim 4 winners, Huff and Gautreau. May I refer you to my first-night remarks on comedy contests and judging. Thank you.