The Shorty Awards (and you’re forgiven if you haven’t heard of them) bill itself as the Oscars of social media. Perhaps, the Oscars began as an intimate event.
This awards ceremony, the third to celebrate social media, held at the Times Center in New York Monday night, drew actors (Jim Gaffigan and Kiefer Sutherland both starring in “That Championship Season” on Broadway) and a mixed crowd of hipsters, tech entrepreneurs working the crowd and many people with busy thumbs, encouraged to Tweet during the show.
Aasif Mandvi. of “The Daily Show” began, “Thank you for having me host the most irrelevant of award shows. The Webbies look at you guys and go, ‘Really?’ “
“Let me be honest like everyone else I’m only doing this to get more Twitter followers,” Mandavi said. He stopped the show at least twice until he attracted more followers.
Sutherland kicked off the first of 46 Shorty Awards for best journalist going to West Wing Report.
It was a night of many ties, and very prepared winners, whose 140-character acceptance speeches were projected on the screen as they took the stage. Many sent in video acceptances.
Some moments were serious: the Shorty News Award went to Lei Seca RJ from Brazil who said, “Our mission is to save lives and help people.” His co-winner, for The
Young Turks, railed for a while and said that he had “a masters degree in media domination.” Some people found him funny.
Mandavi interrupted him, “Is that 140 characters? That’s like 12 Tweets.”
Most acceptance speeches were as blissfully short as a Tweet, but the reason the Grammy and the Tony Awards work, for instance, is that they offer entertainment. When this did, it was not as slow.
Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller presented the Shorty for television to “Attack of the Show” and “Sesame Street.” Both were no shows, to which Meara said, “I do think that’s kind of rude but they did send an acceptance video.”
The high note of the evening was Amanda Palmer, on the ukulele, singing to the melody of Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. As the screen showed a doctored BP logo, she sang, “catastrophe is a strong word. Let’s all agree to call it a whoopsiedaisy.”
Neil Patrick Harris, the best actor using social media, (and brilliantly) sent a film: “Wow! I won. I don’t know where to begin. Do I thank a long list of names? No. I will speak from the heart I want to say I am deeply ap” and cut himself off, a joke to staying within the 140-character limit.
The rowdiest group was Epic Meal Time, seven guys in sweatshirts, who didn’t identify themselves at the podium. One guy said that they know nothing about food, but “we deep fry things and wrap them in bacon and cover them in liquor.”
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, won for government, and with cell phone in hand, said, “I am probably here cause I shoveled some snow. We are all proud to be part of a Twiiter revolution.”
The Lifetime Achievement Shorty Award — and yes, they do realize how silly the word lifetime is in this instance — went to Conan O’Brien, who sent in a video and began reading Robert A. Caro‘s “The Power Broker” tomb on Robert Moses.
The most genuine applause, coming from the whole audience, not just various winners’ entourages, went to Astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock. He took the winning photo of the moon from space. Wearing a NASA jumpsuit, he recalled his reluctance when his supervisors asked him to tweet.
“I wanted the experience to be deeper than a sound byte,” he said. “‘Wow’ only took three characters.”