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.
Many independent comedy showcases in New York City go dark in August, either because the potential audience members all have gone on vacation, or perhaps because the comedians themselves would like to enjoy a summer break. Kevin Allison is going the other way. This alum from MTV's The State is starting up his new weekly comedy storytelling showcase in August, starting Thursday at Arlene's Grocery in NYC's Lower East Side. A risk, you say? Well, that sounds about right for a title, too, so there you go, and here we are, talking to Allison about his new show, RISK! This week's debut focuses on "Strange Sex: Our Wildest Encounters," with stories from Margot Leitman, Marc Maron, Jessi Klein and Jonathan Kesselman.
"I had been doing these character monologues for so long, because I was never really into stand-up for myself personally. I loved telling a story," Allison told me. "(The shows) were always great. But the last show I did, I felt I was trying to say a lot more about myself...and then I thought, f*ck it. why not just get up and tell my own f*cking stories? Why such a production? And the response, was a full 180 degrees. People were giving me really big laughs, (saying) thanks, that was inspiring hearing you talk about that stuff."
How would you compare RISK! to other storytelling series that already exist, such as the long-running "Moth" showcase, which itself has seemed to spawn other comedy storytelling shows around New York City? "A lot of people in the storytelling world aren't really pursuing it for a career. They have jobs that they love," Allison said. "It's more relaxed than the stand-up scene is. Just a lot of nice people. When you go to a lot of those shows that are storytelling...they hang on your every word, and they're fine to go for a few minutes without any laughs." When Allison has talked to comedians, he has found they realize that would "take some getting used to," knowing they can talk without laughs punctuating every single line.