Tina Fey said it best at last night’s Comedy Central Comedy Awards:
“All award shows are bullshit made up clubs that people start to give each other prizes – so I wanna thank Comedy Central for realizing we can do that – so we can give each other prizes.”
The first annual Comedy Awards aired last night at 9 pm simultaneously on Comedy Central, Spike TV, CMT, LOGO, TV Land, VH1, and Nick at Nite. Frankly speaking my expectations were low since most award shows are a glut of mutual masturbation amongst celebrities talking about how great they are while simultaneously acting humble.
As strong as my feelings coming into the Comedy Awards were, the show itself actually managed to pleasantly surprise me. First and foremost let me say that since it was prerecorded, it was a clean two hours. Something that every award show from now on needs to take as a lesson. Having it be pre-taped means we were spared hours of meaningless technical awards (sorry to say it like that but you know what I mean), rambling celebrities being played off by the house music, and most importantly edited in a way to keep things fast paced and interesting.
One of these reasons can be attributed to the fact that the awards themselves are green and new to everyone, keeping a solid air of believability. The first award of the night for best Comedy Film was given to the Will Ferrel / Mark Wahlberg movie, The Other Guys. Right off the bat Ferrell and company did a gag with the acceptance speech, rushing the stage with “all of the producers” (about 40 people). It wasn’t the funniest bit I have every seen but I appreciated the fact that right away they were determined to not turn the night into an orgy of self wankary.
As soon as that ended, Rob Corddry won for best Alternative/Sketch Show for Childrens Hospital and went to collect his award completely surprised. He didn’t have any sort of gag but just thanked some of the people close to him in a completely believable and endearing way. It should be noted that the quick pace helped, no more than ten minutes into the show and three awards were given out.
And really that is how the night went, constantly jumping between the red carpet vets Alec Baldwin and Stephen Colbert having a good time and letting loose, and people like Rob Corddry and Louis C.K. given earnest respect for their art. Acceptance speeches can be pretty funny when funny people are allowed to make them. Trey Parker and Matt Stone might win for the line of the night by comparing their win for best Animated Series to “winning student of the month when your mom is the teacher.”
The Roots served as the house band for the night but we were treated to a full stage production of The Lonely Island’s “I Just Had Sex” with dancers, visual gags and some Akon. And the night’s announcer Andy Richter did a great job announcing people, he did an even better job announcing people he didn’t know with intros such as “…and that guy,” or “and they didn’t give me that person’s name.” It was perfect for not keeping things serious. Other montages into and out of commercials included candid interviews with people recalling their funny moment growing up or Alec Baldwin’s killer Tracy Morgan impression.
A lifetime achievement award was given to Eddie Murphy. Though few people deserve it more than him, it was a little odd that after a whole montage of his clips was shown and he was given a standing ovation, he came up on stage did a super quick thank you and left. He was definitely gracious, but it came across that this award show was still too “small time” for him.
The night closed with Bill Murray presenting the First Annual Johnny Carson Award to Dave Letterman who gave a much longer than expected but was just funny and poignant enough to close out the night.
Without assigning some arbitrary letter grade to the show I have to say as much as I came into any awards show with the expectation to be bored, I found myself almost disappointed when it was over.
Even though who actually won the awards was kind of secondary to the general celebration of comedy, here is a complete list of the night’s winners for those interested.
Comedy Series – Modern Family
Comedy Actor, TV – Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Comedy Actress, TV – Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)
Comedy Writing, TV – 30 Rock
Comedy Directing, TV – Modern Family
Animated Comedy Series – South Park
Late Night Comedy Series – The Daily Show with John Stewart
Stand-up Special – Hilarious by Louis C.K.
Sketch Comedy/Alternative Comedy Series – Childrens Hospital
Comedy Film – The Other Guys
Comedy Actor, Film – Zach Galifianakis (Dinner for Schmucks)
Comedy Actress, Film – Tina Fey (Date Night)
Comedy Director, Film – Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
Comedy Screenplay – Hot Tub Time Machine
Best Breakthrough Performer – Daniel Tosh
Best Viral Original – “Bed Intruder” by Autotune the News
Icon Award – Eddie Murphy
Johnny Carson Award – David Letterman