Hundreds gathered for the 17th Annual Webby Awards at Cipriani Wall Street last night in a ceremony that honored excellence on the Internet–fart jokes, GIF pronunciation debates and all.
Patton Oswalt began by observing, “Look at all these people taping this. By all means, record this shaky iPhone version, because this will never be on the Internet.”
“This whole thing was Kickstarted, but we didn’t quite make our stretch goal, so instead of Louis C.K., you have me as your host,” he added.
One of the most memorable acceptance speeches came from Brandon Stanton, who won the Best Blog award for Humans of New York. Hopping onstage, all backwards cap and messenger bag, he quipped, “Still can’t pay my rent.”
Hip hop artist Frank Ocean accepted the Person of the Year award via video. Commended for using social media as a “cultural tool” and attempting to bring an end to discrimination in hip hop, he promised to come out next year to see someone else “fumble through their acceptance speech.”
The ceremony continued with a sincerely moving tribute to Aaron Schwartz, the Demand Progress founder who committed suicide earlier this year. His father, Robert, said, “I wish he was here to see this response.”
Steve Wilhite, who patented the graphic .GIF, didn’t speak at all in his Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech, but pointed to the in-house screens, which read, “It’s pronounced jiff, not gif” thus ending 25 years of speculation.
“David Karp sold his company for 1.1 billion dollars yesterday,” Mr. Oswalt said. “When I was 26, I sold an ounce of weed for 140 bucks. Welcome to the club.” He then proceeded to try to either pants Mr. Karp or give him a wedgie, unsuccessfully.
The Tumblr CEO was wearing dark pants and his trademark grey hoodie with the Tumblr logo on the back.
Musician Grimes, Webby’s Artist of the Year, sported hexagonal shades, platform converses, a black cotton dress and punk jewelry aplenty. According to the 25-year-old, the best thing on the Internet these days is, “Political freedom, and being able to undermine government, and all that jazz. I’m hoping that remains.” Her acceptance speech? “This is more than five words.”
Ben Stiller, an actor in the web series, was introduced as, “Ladies and gentleman, Beyoncé!” He proceeded to accept the award with a one word speech, “Grathias.”
Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti, founders of Trigger Street Productions, picked up the Special Achievement award for their Netflix series House of Cards and their use of technology “for creative experimentation.”
Their five choice words were, “The Oscars should do this.”
“I have absolutely no idea who’s here. I know as little as possible about what’s about to happen,” Mr. Spacey said earlier. When asked what his favorite website was, he answered, “I probably shouldn’t talk about porn.”
Accepting for Tumblr was Amandalyn Ferri, Community Outreach manager who cheered, “Fuck yeah, fuck yeah….” followed by a dejected, “Fuccck.”
Comedian Colin Quinn feigned bitterness when he presented the final award of the night to Jerry Seinfeld for Outstanding Comedic Performance in the web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“Jerry doesn’t need this award. It’s an insult to him. I need it, and I’m not getting it, and that’s life,” he said gruffly.
Seinfeld’s acceptance speech wasn’t, as Quinn predicted, “I can buy this place,” but instead, “Why five words? It doesn’t…”
Someone forgot to say thank you.