“Yeah, don’t be in the moment,” said Patton Oswalt as he was greeted by a wave of cellphone cameras upon taking the stage at the 18th Annual Webby Awards Monday night. “It’s not like any of this will end up on the internet.” After the chided audience began to put their phones away, he smiled and told them to make sure to use the #Webbys hashtag while they were tweeting.
Presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the Webby Awards, held at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street, honor achievements in websites, online advertising, interactive media and more. The audience was a mix of actors, musicians, website founders and viral video stars. Webby winners acceptance speeches are famously limited to five words, which made the night feel like a series of IRL tweets from across the media spectrum, from Webby Actress of the Year Taylor Schilling, winning for “Orange is the New Black” (“I now have a Webby!”), to George Takei, winning for his video series “Takei’s Take” (“Shatner, eat your heart out!”) to the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, winning Best Viral Video for “The Fox” (“We came for the food.”).
The night was divided into two hour-long segments for acceptance speeches, many of them delivered via video, with a break for dinner and a performance from comedian-musician Fred Armisen as his faux punk character Ian Rubbish. Oswalt, hosting for the third time, was typically enthusiastic, gushing over presenter Patti Smith (“I hope Patti Smith doesn’t mind me saying this, but the Godmother of Punk is fucking adorable”) and making an impassioned plea for net neutrality (“Weirdos and mutants will find ways to keep the Internet free.”).
Roots drummer and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” bandleader Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presented the Artist of the Year Award to the pioneering hip-hop group De La Soul. Because of copyright and clearance issues with some of the samples they used, the majority of the group’s work has been unavailable via digital music platforms like Spotify and iTunes for years, so on Valentine’s Day the group gave the majority of the albums away as free downloads via their site. The group stuck to the five-word limit during their acceptance speech (“check, check, testing, one, two”), but earlier in the night explained to Variety the reasoning behind giving their giveaway.
“For so long we’ve been traveling on the road, and our fans have been telling us it’s been difficult to get the music online, because of contractual things in the past with labels. For us, the folks were sitting around wanting it, so sincerely, we were like ‘fuck it, let’s just give it to the folks,'” said Dave “Trugoy” Jolicoeur. “And Valentine’s Day was coming up, and it seemed like a nice gift for our fans. We love our fans.”
After the ceremony Questlove and the DJ Mister Saturday Night hosted an afterparty at the Highline Ballroom.
(Pictured: Natasha Lyonne and Taylor Schilling of “Orange Is the New Black” at the Webby Awards)