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.
If you turn on your TV these days, and you probably do this, unless you never turn the darned thing off, then you may have noticed more and more New York City comedians getting involved in big-time mainstream commercial advertising. Then again, perhaps this always has been the case, but you didn't live in NYC and hang around comedians back then, so you didn't notice. Who are you, anyhow? Trick question.
All of which leads to Jim Beam's new ad campaign, combined with a contest asking you (and I mean you this time) to spoof the ads for a chance to win $25,000 and a trip for four to Las Vegas. For Jim Beam's The Remake contest, they've offered up a few examples for inspiration, including these spots by Gabe & Jenny, and also by Max Silvestri and Gabriel Delahaye. I like how Gabe & Jenny managed to turn one of their classic bits into a TV sketch. Enjoy:
Silvestri and Delahaye have two offerings for you, after the jump.
Oh, Super Deluxe. I love how you pay comedians for content. But sometimes, you keep their videos locked away for months and I forget to look for them. Other times, you end up with the most awkwardly appropriate video descriptions, such as Jonah Ray's "Master The Internet," which says: "Everybody's doing it! Why not you, also?" Yes. Everybody is doing this. Jonah Ray does it here, with points for achieving the throwback video look, negative bonus points for unnecessary World Trade Center joke.
This video sure reminds me of something. What could it possibly be? Oh. Right. Gabe & Max's Internet Thing plowed this territory last year, with more than 542,000 viewers on the YouTube since October. A few months later, Tim & Eric did pretty much the same thing with their "The Innernette" sketch on the TV.
Taken individually, each of these videos has its own charms. But three makes a trend, as the mainstream media loves to observe, and this trend reminds me of your basic nostalgia humor trap that stand-up comedians have used over the years for easy laughs. Nostalgia humor traps often include cartoons, commercials and games you remember from childhood. Remember that show? (This is the part where audiences instinctively laugh, even before there is a punchline.) Technology also has fallen prey to nostalgia humor traps as our gadgets get better and make older tech outdated, and therefore inherently funny. The most common one I hear refers to anyone still carrying a pager or beeper. So I'm onto you, Internet videos about the Internet that look like they're from the 1990s. But if I want to really laugh about how far the Internet has come since then, I'll just watch a real-life video about the Internet in 1995. Like this one.
Today marks the launch of Videogum, the Stereogum spinoff helmed by leading bloggers Gabe Delahaye and Lindsay Robertson. They also co-host the monthly Ritalin Readings series at the Slipper Room, so now they're doubly delicious. If that makes sense. You can see how well they already work together by reading this post in which Lindsay dares Gabe to display a sign for her on The Today Show.
Gabe and Lindsay will be digging up, digging on and sharing videos from the world with us daily. One thing Gabe already found that I appreciate is the SNL sketch from this past weekend featuring guest host Christopher Walken in "Indoor Gardening Tips From A Man Who's Very Scared of Plants." Enjoy!
UPDATED! (4/9) NBC figured out that people really wanted to see this sketch online again and again, because they've gone and put it online themselves on the SNL site and also on Hulu, so don't fret about the YouTube clip getting pulled. It's known online as "Googly Eyes Gardener." OK. Now enjoy.
As a journalist, reaching the final page of the notebook always prompts mixed emotions. First, excitement at the prospect of starting anew with a clean, fresh pad of paper. Then, a touch of sadness, because you've held this pad literally close to the vest for months, and inside it are memories, written down and kept with you, but nevermore. And you know that even though you keep your notes around for years to come, the odds remind you that you'll likely not open this pad again, leaving it with the other memories of shows and interviews and news gone by. Was there something you'd written that shouldn't be left behind, you wonder? If you're lucky to remember, you flip back through the pages looking for important phone numbers, names and notes to self that actually became notes to self.
I found a few shows I'd seen that made my notepad but hadn't been shared yet. So let's get to it.
Goodnight, OJ: This one-woman show by Livia Scott (directed by Baron Vaughn) has its final performance tonight (Jan. 30) at the UCB Theatre in NYC. In it, Scott re-examines and performs actual letters written to OJ Simpson when he was in jail back in 1994 charged with double murder. I saw this show Nov. 29, 2007, when Simpson had just come back into the news -- and jail -- for his Vegas shenanigans. Scott and Vaughn made a conscious decision to include not only letters of dark humor but also darkly depressing notes. Wasn't expecting that. Scott told me they've shuffled the order of the letters from show to show, and believes the Simpson trial was one of the last things (9/11 notwithstanding) that brought everyone together to watch in shock and awe. I found the Colette letters as well as the notes from children to be quite funny and touching. Still not sure about including some of the darker stuff (one letter is addressed, "Hey, Sambo"), but I suppose that's what makes this more of a theatrical piece than a straight comedy.
We Kate Shelly: Sketch comedy from Kate Hess and Shelly Stover. Stover has such an expressive face and uses it to great effect. The duo has a big musical number finale. At the show I saw, their impact was lessened a bit because, without microphones, some of their scenes were more difficult to follow. They're at the UCB in NYC on Jan. 31, Feb. 4, and Feb. 18.
The Collective: There is a management firm known as The Collective. This is a diferent collective of New York City actors and comedians, and they invited me to see a comedy show they held after a play at Centerstage on West 21st Street. Fourth-floor venue. Very theatrical crowd, obviously most watched the company's play and stayed afterward, and quite welcoming to all the comedians. Amy Schumer hosted, talking to the audience as if she were friends with all of them (which heck, she may have been!). Comedians on the lineup included Mike DeStefano, Jackie Monahan, Demetri Martin, Mara Herron, Maggie Champagne and Jesse Joyce. Schumer told me later that night that they hope to produce more plays and comedy shows, just looking for the right venue.
Ritalin Readings: The Slipper Room had the feeling of a cozy living room before December's showcase of writers and comedians reading, with hosts Lindsay Robertson and Gabriel Delahaye. Delahaye opened with a bang by reading from "The Y2K Personal Survival Guide," with the helpful tips such as stocking up on two-liter soft drink bottles. Didn't hear much from Robertson but hope to next time. The show did throw me for a bit of a loop, though, when the first two performers didn't read at all. Sean O'Connor did stand-up. Elna Baker presented a story she was rehearsing for radio's This American Life about working in toy demonstration at FAO Schwartz. Both funny, but wasn't this about reading? Lang Fisher did have a letter she'd written to a potential employer in becoming an assistant farmer, while Will Leitch read from his upcoming book (now out) based on his Deadspin experiences, and show producer Jon Friedman shared an email he sent to all of his coworkers on his last day as an NBC intern. Patrick Borelli closed the show with crazy, true and quick stories.
I think that gets us almost caught up.
Today is the final day for open voting for the ECNY Awards, which used to stand for Emerging Comics of New York, but now just is ECNY to honor other kinds of comedians, sort of how KFC decided it was much more than merely Kentucky Fried. The awards ceremony is Jan. 28 at Comix. And the show promises to be a hoot. Jon Friedman hosts. Look for live performances and pre-taped magic, and for a sneak peek, I caught up with ECNY's producers as they got some of the nominees on camera. So I got them getting them on camera. Here's a fun snippet with The Apple Sisters...
Who will be getting your votes? Perhaps more importantly, who'll get my votes? I'm on the "Industry Committee," which means not only do I get until Jan. 20 to place my votes, but also that the Industry Committee's votes count for half of the total -- perhaps they got that concept from Dancing With The Stars, in which the judges get 50% of the say, the audience the other 50% through call-in votes. Since I still have some time before I fill out my ballot, perhaps you can help make the case for your favorites or get me to take a second look at someone I may have overlooked.
As it stands, my thoughts are...
If you want to see Max live, he hosts a monthly show at Rififi in NYC's East Village, and the next one is Sunday, Dec. 9, with co-host Jenny Slate and guests Jon Friedman, Lang Fisher, Aubrey Tennant and Crack'd Out.
Gabe, meanwhile, co-hosts the monthly Ritalin Readings series, and at this month's show, he captivated the audience with selections from "The Y2K Personal Survival Guide" (stock up on two-liter plastic bottles, people!) as well as an essay he wrote about Alien vs. Predator hosting a New Year's Eve party. Dee-light-full! He's also a contributing editor to the new fun-with-news Huffington Post blog 23/6.
And here is their original video, which you probably already have seen but now joyously want to relive, so enjoy!