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How To Make The ECNY Awards: Part 2 – Nominations

This is the second part of my I-don’t-know-how-many-part series on the ECNY Awards, leading up to the seventh annual awards, being held this year at the 92Y Tribeca. If you haven’t, go back and read Part 1 for a brief history of the Awards. This time, I’m going to talk a little bit about the nomination process, and focus on the Awards – new and old – because there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about this.

Let’s start with the nomination process.

This year, nominations kicked off on November 24th. A few days before that, as we do every year, pages were put online to test the nominations. As seems to happen every single year, some over zealous comedians who hack into our code or something saw that the page had gone live, and e-mailed all of their friends to nominate them, and then were upset when we took the page down. Here’s a couple of snotty things I’ll say about this:

  1. Nominations are not scored on who got their first.
  2. I understand you had no way of knowing, and are excited, but just wait for an official announcement or something. Same thing happens with SketchFest NYC*, where we get letters like, “Hey, your website still has all of last year’s info, and there’s no official announcement, but i was digging around on your FTP and found the new application. Can I send that in?”
  3. You only need to be nominated once, and you’re done.

That last one is the most important. We WANT people to e-mail all of their friends, and let them know about the ECNY nominations. We want you guys to be excited and get out there. It’s good for us, publicity wise, and it’s good for you for many of the same reasons movie studios do “For Your Consideration” ads: it raises your profile, and motivates your base.

But that first time you enter your own name on a form, you’re done.

You can have 100,000 people nominate you, and you’re only on our list of nominees once. That’s it. So yay for us, because you told 100,000 people about the ECNY Awards, but for you, you still have to be, you know… Really talented. To further clarify, I’m going to go to the ECNY FAQ:

Hundreds of names are submitted in each and every category, so we take that list to our hand-picked Industry Committee which consists of a broad spectrum of approximately 50 comedy professionals based in New York. These people live and breathe comedy: they manage theaters, they produce shows, they work in television, they run internet sites, they blog about us and review shows. The Industry Committee votes and the top vote getters become the nominees.

Make sense? First, the Producers take a look through to eliminate any double listings, like Alex Zalben and Alex Zalban; or any fake names; or anyone who doesn’t meet one of our other requirements (living and working in NYC, for example, so, sorry, John Cleese). We never eliminate anyone based on personal preference; if anything, we leave the list super long, because, hey, why not?

Then, we take that super long list, in alphabetical order, to the Industry Committee. They have no knowledge of each other’s votes, or how the voting ends up, until we post the final nominees, like everyone else in the world.

And that’s it.

No secret formulas, no tricks to get “in.” If you’ve been to one open mic ever, or been performing every night for the past ten years, you’re all weighted the same on the list. Except for Z names, who get screwed every time I’M JUST SAYING, OKAY?

The trick is, we have fifty(ish) people who know comedy, and without agenda, vote for as many people as they like. Even if they have a secret agenda, there are enough other people on the list that it balances out. So the trick is, you have had to make an impression. You can be the best stand-up in the world, but if you’re performing to your cats, you’re not getting nominated**.

With few exceptions, this has always magically worked out well, and from the voting, we get five nominees per category. In the cases where it hasn’t, it still works out magically well, because Jerry Seinfeld gets nominated for Best Stand-Up, or something. And if not, we’ve fudged it, so that we get two website categories, or six nominees for Emerging Comic.

Speaking of categories, this is going long, so next time, I’ll break down the categories, and how they work, as well as their history. As always, if you have any questions, or anything you want me to elaborate on, please let me know!

*Which I also produce, FYI.

**Unless the nominating committee is ALL cats, and I’m just trying to trick you. YOU’LL NEVER KNOW.

DISCLAIMER: Though I am a Producer of the ECNY Awards, the thoughts and words included in these posts represent my feelings alone, and should not be considered an official stance of the ECNY Awards, or any of the other members of the Production staff. Basically, if you’ve got a problem with any of this, talk to me.

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