The Webby Awards aren’t the world’s shortest award ceremony — including a dinner break, the ceremony takes the standard three hours — but they feel like it. Part of that is the famous five-word limit on acceptance speeches (like Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton: “Still can’t pay my rent”); part of it is just how fast everyone moves. At last night’s 17th annual ceremony, host Patton Oswalt was a speedy presence, which is why (I assume) he felt the need to jokingly remind us that, no really, he’s out of shape.
The atmosphere inside the Cipriani’s cavernous Wall Street ballroom was decidedly different than it was for anyone streaming the show at home: All the funniest jokes didn’t get the best reactions, Frank Ocean baffled most of the room, and The Onion guys were maybe a little rude?
Here’s what you didn’t see this year…
Poor Patton Oswalt: Okay, so Oswalt is one of the funniest, most recognized not-superstar comics in America. He’s a glove-like fit to host the show. So why didn’t any of his bits do better with the crowd? The material was funny, riffing on the inane, all-encompassing logic of the Internet in the usual ways. He called us the elite! But applause lines were few and far, and people seemed tied up with networking or their food, sitting at tables that could feel like they were in different wings of the building. Luckily, Oswalt turned this into a running gag throughout the night, constantly referencing his nearby drink(s). “Of course the loudest table is by the bar.” I was sitting with one of the winning humor websites and they mentioned that Oswalt was still talking up his favorite scotches backstage near the end of the night.
(Runner-up for Most Audience Disconnect was the band Tanlines, which took the stage to perform interactive single “Not the Same.” It’s fun! I can’t be the only one who thinks so.)
Poor Chris Harrison: This got weird. Harrison took the stage to present the creative team behind parody web series Burning Love with a Webby Special Achievement. Makes sense — Burning Love is a Bachelor parody and Harrison is The Bachelor “maven” — but his introduction was interrupted by frequent audience input (mostly uninformed yelling), which he seemed happy to bounce back at the room. Also, a reference to the size of Harrison’s manhood was as surprising to us as it was to all of you.
The speeches: The night’s biggest hit was arguably on behalf of the 2012 Obama campaign, with the line, “Made possible by Mitt Romney.” Frank Ocean’s taped acceptance for Webby Person of the Year was one of the only speeches that exceeded five words. Speaking from what looked like his bedroom, the singer was fumbling and charming, often at the same time. The audience did not get it. And ballsiest speech goes to The Onion, who asked in their Best Humor Website speech, “Anyone want a free Webby?” before setting the Webby down on the stage and walking away. Talk about commitment to a bit.
Jerry Seinfeld: If you’re assuming that Seinfeld, who took the Webby for Outstanding Comedic Performance, was around longer than he was up on stage, you’re wrong. The comedian stepped up to the microphone for his acceptance (“Why five words? It doesn’t–“) and was gone. But hey, that was probably the point.