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How To Make The ECNY Awards: Part 1 – A Brief History of the ECNY Awards

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about transparency, and how keeping your agenda secret – no matter how big, little, important or not – always, in some way, leads to hurt feelings, and exclamations of, “If you had just told me in the first place…” So to that end, I thought I’ve give a little insider look into one of the productions I’m involved in, The ECNY Awards.

For three years, the ECNY Awards existed as a little bit of an embarrassing joke in the comedy world. I don’t mean this as a slam on any of the people involved, who were awesome, and worked hard. The heart was there: take a population that doesn’t get a lot of recognition, the struggling comic, and give them one night where they would be celebrated. But there were certain elements that, in my opinion, were lacking. The awards were too narrowly focused (they were originally called the Emerging Comics of New York Awards, which drew scorn from the community). They were too insular. And making a joke out of the proceedings ended up making them into a joke.

Two years after the “last” awards, Alex Goldberg, from the sketch comedy group Fearsome, said, “Hey, you know? That was a good idea. Let’s try that again.*” So he asked a couple of people to join in, specifically Drink at Work’s Carol Hartsell, The Apiary’s Nate Sloan, The Rejection Show’s Jon Friedman, and myself on drums.

I don’t think we knocked it out of the park that first year, but we did pack the house, and made a legitimate stab at making the ECNYs a real Award show – but with comedy elements, rather than a comedy award show with some real elements. Whatever that means. Jon did an amazing job hosting the show, the production team kept things moving, and people came out saying, “Hey, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!**”

The next year was more lightly attended, though still a good sized audience, due mostly to freezing cold weather, but the whole thing went even slicker than the previous year. Even fewer people made jokes about, “Wow, I’ve finally emerged!” which I considered a huge triumph.

Actually, quick note about that: we made the acronym the name of the show, rather than an acronym, under the pretense that no-one knows who “Oscar” is – or at the very least, it’s not important. Jon made a joke of this, saying you can make the acronym into whatever you want. Most people ignored this the first year, making the same “emerging” joke everyone made since year one. Less the second year. Only one, I think, the third. So yay for that.

Speaking of the third year, Comix was packed to the gills, the show was, as usual, tight, the industry was out in force, as well as the community, and I think everybody had a damn good time. If I’m wrong, please tell me, but I really think it was the best awards yet.

My job, by the way, is press. I always feel an immense amount of pressure when doing press for an event. I know it’s not all on me – there’s the other producers, the performers, the venue – but it feels like a lot of the onus of getting butts in the seats is on my head. It helps to work on a good event with great people involved, but that isn’t all of it. Basically, if no one shows up, I blame the weather; and if lots of people show up, I take full credit.

Now we’re entering year four (or rather, year seven if you count the first three years, which we do) of the ECNY Awards, and there’s been a number of rather large changes. The biggest of which is that Alex Goldberg, who honestly took care of everything for three years, and kept us on pace – he did a great job of managing, without directing – has left. In his place, Carol has stepped up in his place, and Kambri Crews has been added to the staff.

The second biggest change? The Awards actually have a name again, which is, “Excellence in Comedy, New York City.” Which I think is great, says a lot about where the awards are going, and how they, themselves, have finally emerged.

See? Even I can do that joke.

Anyway, I’ll talk about some more of the changes, particularly the nomination process, and what the different awards mean, in the next post. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about the Awards, the process, or need something expanded on. Throughout the process, I’m going to try to post as much as possible to be, yup, you guessed it, transparent.

*This is a direct quote from Alex, of course, hence the quotation marks.

**Also a direct quote. I have a mind like a steel trap.

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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