It seems appropriate and well-timed that we launch a new daily newsletter and blog on digital video the morning after the Second Annual Streamy Awards. After all, this LA event is designed to advance the art and business of online video -- all of those low-budget, high-enthusiasm Webisodic series that too few audiences even know exist.
This year's Streamy show had planned a Red Carpet pre-show event, full live streaming of the awards to Web, iPhone and select Web TV services like Boxee. I was all set to treat the fledgling series like another part of the unctuous show-biz awards season. We had the stream coursing through all available screens in my house: laptop, iPhone, iPad, and even on the 60-inch HDTV via an Apple TV box hacked with Boxee.
In the opening, emcee Paul Scheer said that up to 750,000 people were watching the Streamys live.
Oh, Lord, let's hope not.
Even the on-stage talent was commenting on what a "train wreck" it all was. Video presentations failed to play or froze in mid-run. Scheer had to do fill-in banter by interviewing the presenters at one point while the techies tried (and failed) to reset the clips. Staff and audience background voices could be heard too prominently throughout the broadcast. I had to shut down my Boxee stream several times because the live and delayed feed were overlapping one another. Directorial miscues served up way too many camera shots of the floor. And let's not even talk about the content. How many references to geeks in basements, penises and masturbation can a single award show manage to fit? And this was just in the first two hours. Okay, we get it. This is Nerdville and none of your parents understand exactly what it is you do.
I confess. I bailed. I suspected this morning that these guys may still be there doling out bad, tasteless comedy bits and lurching towards each award. But apparently they finished the thing and completed the awards. To wit, the winners below.
To be fair, any fledgling awards show will share some of the amateur charm of its source industry. And the Streamys should be a noble attempt to give more shows and true talent the visibility they deserve. What Illeana Douglas and her crew do for Ikea in their "Easy to Assemble" branded entertainment series is novel and craftily peppered with celebrity cameos. Its basic approach of just letting funny people be funny on behalf of a brand was taken up by this year's branded entertainment winner "Back on Topps." Here the comedic Sklar Brothers play former heirs to the Topps sports card company trying to find a place under the company's new ownership. Send-ups of geekdom made for the Nerdocracy can be tiresome. But "The Guild" remains a clever series about RPG-obsessives, and "The Legend of Neil" (a drunk self-asphyxiating jerk falling into a game of "Legend of Zelda") has some deft comic timing.
But you see what I just did there? In just a sentence or two I actually did what an entire Streamy Awards show failed to do -- try to explain what some of this stuff actually does. Rather than take the opportunity to pull new audiences into these niche shows and proselytize the medium, the event wasted hours on bad self-deprecating humor, leaden comedy bits and an endless line of presenters whose obscure works were left obscure to all but a handful of Web video addicts to whom the show seemed to be targeted. The shows themselves were never featured enough to pique interest. After all, niche media by definition is made to appeal to narrow channels of audiences. Even people like me who watch altogether too many hours of this stuff aren't acquainted with the full range of material out there.
Enough of the low self-esteem theater. Next year, make a show that actually widens the audience for Web video by exposing viewers to what they are missing.
Audience Choice: Agents of Cracked
Best Comedy Web Series: Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis
Best Drama Web Series: The Bannen Way
Best Hosted Web Series: Diggnation
Best News or Political Series: Auto-Tune the News
Best Animated Web Series: How It Should Have Ended
Best Branded Entertainment Web Series: Back on Topps (Topps, Dick's Sporting Goods)
Best Directing for a Comedy Web Series: The Guild (Sean Becker)
Best Directing for a Drama Web Series: The Bannen Way (Jesse Warren)
Best Writing for a Comedy Web Series: Wainy Days (David Wain)
Best Writing for a Drama Web Series: Compulsions (Bernie Su)
Best Male Actor in a Comedy Web Series: Zach Galifianakis (Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis)
Best Female Actor in a Comedy Web Series: Felicia Day (The Guild)
Best Male Actor in a Drama Web Series: Mark Gantt (The Bannen Way)
Best Female Actor in a Drama Web Series: Rachael Hip-Flores (Anyone But Me)
Best Ensemble Cast in a Web Series: Easy to Assemble (Illeana Douglas, Justine Bateman, Eric Lange, Michael Irpino, Cheri Oteri, Daryl Sabara, Michael Panes, Rob Mailhouse, Sean Durrie, Tom Arnold, Ed Begley Jr., Tim Meadows, Ricki Lake, Greg Proops, Kevin Pollak)
Best Guest Star in a Web Series: "Weird Al" Yankovic (Know Your Meme)
Best Web Series Host: Zadi Diaz (Epic Fu)
Best Vlogger: Shane Dawson (ShaneDawsonTV)