Hours after Bill de Blasio kicked off Internet Week, the technorati poured into Cipriani Wall Street last night to see Patton Oswalt host the 18th annual Webby Awards. The comic was quick to poke fun at websites whose founders were in the audience: “Even if I eat it tonight Reddit will find a way to blame it on the wrong person,” he quipped.
Here, now, are the ceremony’s most memorable (or shall we say, Tweetable) moments.
A North Brooklyn tech entrepreneur sticking to the mandated five words or less
Vice founder Shane Smith hoisted a glass as he claimed a People’s Voice award and issued “a toast… to the Webbys,” which prompted Oswalt to ask, “Was that soda or was that alcohol? It better have been alcohol, he’s from Vice.”
A North Brooklyn tech entrepreneur not sticking to five words, and hearing about it
Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler accepted the Breakout of the Year Award by saying, “What’s up, y’all, let’s keep doing this thing.” Having already violated the sacred five-word limit that past winners like the Beastie Boys and Al Gore have been held to, he continued – “uh, thanks to the Webbys and everyone for this award, thanks to the internet…” – before being drowned out by the appalled crowd’s murmurs of discontent.
Taking the stage, Oswalt asked, “What hap–? Ah, I’ll read about it on Gawker tomorrow.”
Patti Smith claiming to be “Bansky”
Patti Smith announced that the Person of the Year award was going to Banksy, whose name she kept mispronouncing Ban-sky. “I have a confession to make,” she said as she took the stage. “I am Bansky.” She drew cheers when she said, “I was given something to read but it was sort of stupid so I redid it,” and then (not for the first time) claimed ignorance of the Internet: “How is [Banksy’s] work to be archived, shared and stored but through the World Wide Web, which I just learned today is the Internet. I actually thought they were two different thing but they’re one thing.”
And Banksy’s acceptance speech
The artist was, of course, not present, so Oswalt read his hand printed speech – “Oh, somebody painted over it” – off of a card that he then gave to a lucky audience member.
Stephen Malkmus coining the word “lifemeister”
Alt comic Reggie Watts and alternative rocker Stephen Malkmus (“it doesn’t get much more alternative than this”) presented an award. When Watts (intentionally) mispronounced “life’s mysteries,” Malkmus noted, “I’m a lifemeister, too.”
Oswalt asking someone (twice) to silence a cell phone.
“Could you please change your ringtone to ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns N’ Roses, please? A little respect.”
Questlove introducing De La Soul and speaking out against the fact that, because of clearance issues, their albums aren’t available to fans who want to listen to them on digital platforms.
“There’s me, myself and I, but there’s no me, myself and iTunes.”
Fred Armisen, as Ian Rubbish, getting someone to smash something.
Before the Portlandia and SNL star, playing aging Brit punk rocker Ian Rubbish, went into his song “Hey Policeman” (main lyric: “My boot goes in your face!”), he encouraged those seated for their four-course meals to “smash everything you got on the table” if they liked the music. Someone immediately obliged by smashing a glass.
Oswalt revealing that he uses AirBNB
AirBNB’s surprisingly apolitical acceptance speech — “We’re sleeping in your bed” – got a response of “You wish!” from Oswalt, who confessed, “I stayed in an AirBNB last night. It was awesome guys, thank you, I may have left a body under the bed.”
Oswalt dressing down the guys from GQ
A crew from GQ told everyone that the “Internet’s bigger than porn, gentlemen,” but all Oswalt cared about was the guy who was wearing a sweater (or somesuch) in lieu of a proper jacket: “Which of these things is underdressed? Of course they’re form GQ, good Lord. Go replace the Hives.”
Oswalt giving The Guardian a new mandate
Accepting an award for Best Practices, reps from The Guardian pleaded for “More privacy, less NSA surveillance.” Oswalt’s response: “Find out why they canceled Firefly! You know the NSA was behind that.”
Oswalt’s response to getting a camera pinned on him by the folks from GoPro
“Don’t hold your breath for any mountain bike videos.”
George Takei’s acceptance speech
The Star Trek star accepted a Webby for this video: “Shatner, eat your heart out.”
Oswalt’s jab at his old friends, Salon
After reps from Plain Vanilla Corp. gave a vanilla speech – “For our team in Iceland” – Oswalt noted that “Plain Vanilla Corp. could not be better named,” and added, “I’m white, I get to say that. Take that, Salon!”
And these great acceptance speeches
“We’re taking this to Mars” –an astronaut accepting an award for NASA’s website.
“No words, just heart emojis” (followed by a hand sign signifying an exploding heart) –Refinery29
“Too many died for this” –The Onion
“So I’m not dead yet” –Lawrence Lessing, receiving a Lifetime Achievement award for cofounding Creative Commons.
Oswalt ranting about net neutrality
“Next year what I think the Webbys should do, in 2015 – who am I kidding, next year there’s not going to be an Internet because of the network shills at the FCC. Am I right people? Yes, exactly… And by the way, please stop the bullshit about, “well, we’re making an Internet fast lane.” You’re not making an internet fast lane, you’re making the other lanes slower. You could at least try to trick us for God’s sakes. What the fuck?”
And later: “Ok, look, this is the 25th anniversary of the Web tonight and like anything when it turns 25 – this happened in film, this happened in rock and roll – it begins to get commodified and chewed up by the powers that be, and it’s happening with the Internet now. I mean, it happened earlier with a sphere that was truly out in the open – another thing that weirdos invented in a garage somewhere is now being bought by the Man and used to sell stuff. It happened with movies — Thomas Edison in his garage filming people kissing turned into, you know, the next Transformers movie. It’s all linked.
And rock and roll weirdos in their garage – then an Iggy Pop song about heroin is being used on a bank commercial, or cruise ships. We get it. Now it’s happening to the Internet. But just like anything else there’s going to be a fight this year. And it’s going to suck, it’s going to be a shitty long fight but just like anything – just like film, just like rock and roll – we will find a way… the weirdos and mutants will find ways to get through and subvert and keep it free. Keep it free and dangerous, by the way – that’s got to be the two watchwords of 2015, keep it free and keep it dangerous. And that is so within our power, because people that are trying against us are basically uncreative moneygrubbers and we are the weirdos who are happy in a garage eating Ritz crackers for dinner and drinking pots of coffee while we invent code and, let’s face it, film our ball sacks.”
Tim Berners-Lee’s rant about net neutrality
Before issuing his three-word acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement award (“Up to us”), the inventor of the World Wide Web threw down some real talk: “If everybody really protests, if you – especially creative powerful people like you who know how to communicate (to a ridiculous extent) can decide to do this, you can make a difference. The time, unfortunately, is again now — we had SOPA, we had PIPA, now is the time to take that journey, show people Brazil, show them what’s happening in Europe.
There’s wording out there about how to define net neutrality — everybody knows what net neutrality means, it’s non-descrimination on the Internet, now is the time to take America, hold a mirror up to her and say, “Hey look, guys, you need this. Really importantly, don’t just assume that the companies will give in to you. We reaize now it’s not going to happen — they’re going to challenge it… we need to have positive laws, positive regulations in order to make it happen.”