'Comedy Awards' review: Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, David Letterman, Bill Murray helped to save it

Comedy Central’s first annual Comedy Awards was a curious mixture of really funny and really boring, so chock-full of funny people squeezed into two hours that only a few of them stood out effectively. We’ll see about that “annual” thing.

To be sure, lots of worthy performers and TV shows won awards. The multiple prizes to 30 Rock were unassailable; but it was also nice to see a solid chunk of eccentricity such as Rob Corddry’s Childrens’ Hospital (shown on Adult Swim) get an award.

The ceremony, which also aired on Viacom-owned entities such as Spike TV, CMT, TV Land, and VH1, was, depending on your point of view, either a democratic effort or a hodgepodge. South Park co-creator Matt Stone, whose show won for best animated series, commented aptly that winning a best-animated-show award from a Comedy Central presentation was “like being Student of the Month and your mom is the teacher.”

Eddie Murphy was presented with a special Icon Award and an impressive montage of his work was shown. (I had forgotten just how funny his spoken-word performance “Kill [‘Cill’] My Landlord” is.) Murphy graciously thanked his particular inspirations:  Richard Pryor, Charlie Chaplin, Bill Cosby, and George Carlin.

By far the most interesting moment of the night was the final one. Bill Murray got a standing ovation just for walking out to present “The Johnny Carson Award.” He said with perfect appropriateness for the times in which we live, “Now we’re gonna show you a clip to show you who Johnny Carson was.”

Murray went on to place Carson in a cultural context, citing what he saw as some of Carson’s influences — “Jack Benny, Laurel and Hardy, Jackie Gleason” — and observed that Carson saw America through the awkward transition from “’50s culture to a ’60s culture.” He suggested that Letterman did the same thing, but as a man who guided late-night TV from America as confident empire to “a country that doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing.”

Letterman then took the stage and made a delightfully rambling speech that had moments of spontaneous jabs (“By the way, I could listen to Garry Shandling talk all night, and I thought maybe we were going to”), but rested on a heartfelt appreciation of Carson (“He gave me my career”).

Earlier in the show, Tina Fey, after winning a microphone-shaped statuette as best film comedy actress (rearrange those words any way you like; the show did) for Date Night, said in her acceptance speech, “All awards shows are bulls—, made-up clubs that people start to give each other prizes, so I want to thank Comedy Central for realizing ‘We could do that, give each other prizes.'”

So they did. But moments such as the speeches of Murphy, Murray, and Letterman redeemed the bull.

Did you watch the Comedy Awards? What did you think?

Twitter: @kentucker

Read more:
Backstage at the Comedy Awards: Eddie Murphy on ‘wrong turns’ like ‘Pluto Nash,’ Louis C.K. on his ‘s—ty’ night
The Comedy Awards: Jon Stewart talks ‘vestigial’ ceremony, Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s Oscar-hosting gig

Comments (83 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    Will be watching in about 30 minutes.

    • TopherGracesucks

      Anyone surprised that Topher Grace didn’t win a thing? If he had even been nominated everyone would have known what a farce this show really is

      • Bobby’s Robot


      • yoyoloverccc

        oh date rich?I am a 28-years lady ,beautiful and mature * Now I am seeking a good man who can give me real love * my friends told me a nice place *** —Meetwealthy.C’0M——it’s the most effective site in the world to connect with, date and marry successful, beautiful people.-Meanwhile, * It’s worthy a try. You do not have to be rich or famous. ****
        Who gets the “Johnny Carson Award” in 2012? It seems like an award dreamed up just for Letterman.

      • Tom

        I couldn’t watch it, I was watching the award show for the best network award show on television. Maybe next year.

  • craig

    2 questions why in the HELL did they not show Kenneth Mars in the “In Memoriam” segment. he was a comedy genuis!…and in the David Letterman segment they should have shown Teri Garr she was a Mainsatay on his show in the NBC days!

    • dan

      what about corey haim

  • topoopon

    Who gets the “Johnny Carson Award” in 2012? It seems like an award dreamed up just for Letterman.

    • Moses

      Regis Philbin would be a good choice. Maybe something you give out every few years.

    • Grammar Police

      You’re just pissed that Leno will NEVER receive it.

      • wiseguy

        Now that would be the height of irony if Leno were to be given the Johnny Carson Award. Or would we call that an insult to Johnny Carson’s memory?

  • fancypants

    What exactly is the point of this awards show? Not that I don’t enjoy Letterman, Fey, Murphy, etc.

    • K

      I guess to recognize a more diverse array of comedy than you’d get at the Emmys or Oscars. It kinda makes sense to me.

    • Saad

      Comedy really gets underappreciated by the “real” awards shows. At least the Golden Globes give those movies and shows a chance, but the Oscars almost never nominate films that are strictly comedy. Plus the show played out like a parody of awards shows, so that was a nice bonus.

  • Jolie

    The Comedy Awards wasn’t as polished as some awards show, but it gets a pass, since it’s the first year. It took some time for the funny and fun to kick in, and I’m glad I stuck around for it.

    Who knew Gary Shandling would be one of the most entertaining people to be on the stage tonight?

  • Earl

    Didn’t see it, never will, but Letterman deserves that achievement award. He took a basic, by-the-numbers talk show format and made it out-there and unpredictable, and paved the way for Conan O’Brien. And Conan would be the first to admit it!
    Think Leno will be getting this kind of award in the future…?

  • Lori

    I love Bill Murray. He is one of the most loved comedian actors in the world, and deserves every standing ovation he gets.

    • LiberalVagina

      Bill Murray is a leftist piece of crap who’s not living in the real world.

  • Burair

    Its nice to see Letterman getting a Johnny Carson thing without being screwed by Leno!
    Letterman deserved it… as everyone in late night from Conan, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, Fallon, Craig Ferguson and even Leno owe alot to Dave for what they;’re doing.
    Just less than a week ago, Kimmel said in his interview with Norm MacDonald how Letterman is the reason why he always wanted to do a late night talk show. Jon Stewart paid tribute to Dave when he recieved an Emmy back in 2005, which can be seen on youtube. Jimmy Fallon was “the guy who is most likely to replace Letterman” in his highschool year book….etc.

    Really… it was about time that America shows some sense :)

  • Chris M

    No mention of John Cryer’s funny as all rap. That was a highlight for me because it was unexpected. I’d much rather see an awards show like this with little mini stand-up shows from each winner, than the Oscars.

    • Saad

      Don’t F*CK with Jon Cryer!

  • MikeyNYC

    Just what the world needed – yet another ridiculous awards show to give self-involved, self-centered, egomaniacs another chance to look foolish on television. There are so many awards show now that none of them really mean anything anymore. Even the Oscars and the Grammies no longer feel special. Perhaps those attending the awards shows should spend that time creating some new material so we don’t have to suffer through yet another year of a hundred remakes!

    • PapaFrita

      You would have liked this one then, because no one there took it very seriously.

    • Douglas

      You’ll now have the chance to watch the aulosbte best newsman on television Brit Hume. And the commentary in the last half-hour is always good.Personally, I think FoxNews has put together the most knowlegeable group of reporters on TV. I watched some CNN today during the election returns and was surprised by the positive comments. There was some personal tension, and it was as if people didn’t like reporting success, but didn’t want to be left out of the biggest story of the year.But, perhaps they’ve decided a balance serves their advertising revenue better.

  • Amber

    Why wasn’t Ferguson nominated?

    • billy

      Agree. ferguson is awesome and they completely dumped on him.

    • MK

      100% agree! He’s the best late night talker out there right now.

      • Terry

        I think Jimmy Fallon is the best late night talk person. I try to catch his show as often as I an.

  • rey

    the between this show and your standard award show. the people involved dont take themselves or the ceremany seriously.

  • lishka9

    We loved it. I really enjoyed the Eddie Murphy and David Letterman retrospective clips and some of the fun of this show was the unpredictability of the wins and speeches. Why shouldn’t comedy get to award and recognize the best and brightest in their business? I did think when Bill Murray came out that Lorne Michaels was going to be recognized, but Letterman is great as well.

    • Shafii

      I saw Conan on tour the other night and it was very entertaining. I can’t wait for his new show to come on TBS. It will be the benigning of a new chapter in late night television.

  • WideJuly

    I could of swore Letterman said “I couldn’t listen to Garry Shandling talk all night”.

    BTW why wasn’t Conan even nominated for best late night talk show?

    • lefty

      cuz it’s not funny?

    • Gemma

      Very lively! I was widoernng if I could use your version for my school project on the Gold Rush, to liven up with music a possible dusty topic?I would really appreciate it?Thank you,

      • Jite

        I saw her interview with Letterman. Overall, I felt she did a great job of adatovcing for adoption and answering his questions. However, I was bothered by her usage of the term, saving a child, as an excuse for why people should leave her alone, and ignore the controversy of David’s adoption. As an adoptive parent, I find it offensive when people refer to adoption in a humanitarian light. Whether they are adoptive parents, too, or not.Anyway, at least she is making adoption more noticed.

  • nome

    I actually enjoyed the Comedy Awards last night. My only real complaint was that the event wasn’t live.

    If Comedy Central taped the even then why wait to air it two weeks later? Make it live next year.

    • nome

      I meant to say: “If Comedy Central taped the EVENT then why wait to air it two weeks later? Make it live next year.”

      • Richard

        Because of all the cursing. It took two weeks to edit all the cursing. ;)

      • Ziyan

        I was up late last night and flipped on FoxNews just as they sreattd their elections coverage with Geraldo.At one point he sreattd waxing poetic as he stood on some rooftop outside Baghdad going on about how he just couldn’t believe this day was finally here and on and on he looked like he nearly had a tear in his eye. I was waiting for him to break out into God Bless America or something.I’ll watch Fox just to be able to laugh at Geraldo all day. ;+)

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