The Comedy Awards: Best & Worst
This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.
Comedy Central has been around in its current form for 20 years, yet somehow it has avoided following its corporate siblings MTV, Spike, Logo, CMT, TV Land, VH1 and Nickelodeon into the world of kudoscasts until now. But this year marks the dawn of the new, more award-y Comedy Central with the first-ever Comedy Awards.
No one at the awards, taped in New York on March 26 but aired April 10, seemed to really know what they were all about, least of all Jon Stewart, who won one for best late-night comedy series and seemed truly baffled as to what to say about it. Luckily, others had plenty to say. But we'll get to that in a moment.
Here are the highlights and lowlights from the show.
No-frills awards: Unlike nearly every awards show on TV, the Comedy Awards began without an opening sketch, an opening song or even an opening monologue. Jon Stewart came out to kick things off, but he could barely muster enthusiasm for a half-joke about the strangeness of Comedy Central having an award show before he moved the show along. Guess he prefers to save the funny for Monday-Thursday.
Who pays for the winners gags?: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell bounded to the stage to accept the best comedy film award for "The Other Guys," but they were nearly crowded out by the hordes of "producers" who jammed onto the stage with them. A funny sight gag for sure, but it left us wondering: Were all those people paid to stand there?
What a lucky girl: Rob Corddry accepted the award for best sketch comedy/alternative comedy series for his Adult Swim series "Children's Hospital." He used his stage time to actually thank people, including his wife, whom he then proceded to flip the bird. Here's hoping this wasn't a test-run for the Emmys.
Comedians shouldn't rap. Ever.: Akon rapping live? OK. Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone rapping live? Just awkward. Yes, the song, "I Just Had Sex," was a joke song, but no number of backup dancers, gag props and funny stage business could cover up the inherent uncoolness of the moment. Some things are best left to the professionals.
That's why he won: Just moments after Alec Baldwin picked up the award for best actor in a TV comedy, the "30 Rock" star was shown doing a spot-on impression of his co-star, Tracy Morgan. He may have announced the end of the series in 2012, but here's hoping it goes on just long enough for Baldwin to give us his impressions of all his co-stars.
A living legend is honored. Sort of.: Eddie Murphy came out to accept the Comedy Icon award. And though the at-home audience was given a lengthy video tribute to Murphy's screen work (including even "The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps"), his actual acceptance speech was so choppily edited, it looked like he was being viewed with the TV remote's 30-second-skip button. Guess the lesson for next year's honoree is "be funnier."
Best rivalry in late night: Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show" crew accepted the award for best late night comedy series, but it was former correspondent and current faux rival Stephen Colbert who stole the award (literally) by booting Stewart and team off the stage and announcing he was accepting the award for "every person whose soul has been crushed by Jon Stewart for the last eight years... For Bill Maher, for Jimmy Kimmel, for Jack Paar and Joey Bishop... If they can do it in Egypt, we can do it here."
Jon Cryer gets it: Addressed the awkwardness of his current career situation ("Two and a Half Men" is in limbo) with a gag involving rappers and backup dancers. But unlike Samberg and Taccone earlier in the evening, he made no attempt to try to be cool. Thus, Cryer demonstrates he is a warlock and not a troll.
The fix is in: Of the five animated series nominated for best animated series, "Archer," "The Simpsons," "American Dad," "Family Guy" and "South Park," which one won? (Hint: Which was the only one of the nominated series to air on Comedy Central?) While accepting the award, co-creator Matt Stone said, "Winning this award from Comedy Central is like being student of the month and your mom is the teacher."
The 'What the?' moment of the night: The reportedly impossible-to-contact Bill Murray somehow showed up to the present the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence to David Letterman. The audience was so surprised, they gave him a standing ovation.
For the record, 1:30 p.m. April 11: A previous version of this post identified Stephen Colbert as a former "Daily Show" anchor. He is a former "Daily Show" correspondent.
— Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Stephen Colbert, left, and Jon Stewart on stage at the Comedy Awards. Credit: Comedy Central