When Sebastian Maniscalco picked up his Pollstar Award for comedy tour of the year Thursday at the Beverly Hilton, he took note of how many more managers and agents there were than performers accepting their awards in person at the ceremony. “Am I the only artist that comes to get the damn award?” he quipped. “I bought a jacket for this thing.”
He needn’t have worried about being the only talent to show up to collect. Elton John made a surprise appearance at the climax to accept his award for major tour of the year, saying he’d skipped out early on an Oscar nominees’ dinner to receive the trophy.
“This is a huge honor… I’m very, very grateful to win this. And I’m very competitive, so I want to win the f—ing thing next year as well,” John said, getting a big laugh in the same Beverly Hills ballroom where he recently won a Golden Globe for best original song.
The pop superstar noted that “this is Thursday, and today, right now, I’m on stage in New Zealand. Well, I was, but I flew from New Zealand on Thursday and I got here today, on Thursday. So this is my second Thursday. I’ve just been to an Oscar nominee dinner, and I left because I wanted to pick up this award. Because for me, touring has always been so special, especially in America — because 50 years ago this August, I came to the Troubadour and had an amazing time, and it all led to what has been a most fantastic career. I’m so grateful. I always say on stage, I love to write songs and I love to make records, but for me as an artist, and a performer, the greatest thing to do is to play a gig and play to people and get a reaction from human beings.”
Other big winners on the artists’ side at the Pollstar Awards included the Rolling Stones for best rock tour, Post Malone for best hip-hop/R&B tour, Pink for best pop tour, Kacey Musgraves for best country tour, Jennifer Lopez for best Latin tour, Billy Joel for best residency and Billie Eilish for best new headliner.
Non-artist winners included Marty Diamond for agent of the year, Louis Messina for promoter of the year, Goldenvoice’s Stacy Vee for talent buyer of the year, Paradigm for booking agency of the year and Red Light’s Coren Capshaw for personal manager of the year.
John spoke at length about his love of doing shows, making no mention of the fact that he’s on his farewell tour (which is expected to wind down in 2021).
“When I came to the Troubadour in 1970, I had the same agent. I had an agent, Howard Rose, who’s still my agent. That’s pretty amazing, 50 years. And he’s guided me through a minefield; he’s made my career interesting. And what I want to say now to people who manage people who are young: Don’t put them in big arenas too soon. Make it interesting. If I were Lewis Capaldi’s manager, I wouldn’t put him into Madison Square Garden. I’d say, ‘We’ll play two nights at Radio City … and then next time we’ll play somewhere else.’ Then you build up. You build up a career. Howard has done that for me. And so every time I’ve come back … I’d play the secondary markets and have a ball going to places I’d never been to before.
“To have a career as long as I have, A, you have to have a bit of talent, but B, you have to have people who think behind the scenes, like all you people out there tonight. You’re the people that arrange for your artists to go on tour, you book them, you advise them. And I’ve had such great advice, and that’s why it’s lasted so long, I think. Plus the fact that I love what I do,” he said, adding thanks to AEG “for helping along the way the last few years.”
Host Whitney Cummings wrapped up the show by boasting, “I’d like to remind you I’m still three minutes under-time!” Earlier, she’d gotten a bit more serious in introducing Maniscalco.
“This is an award I feel like I’m qualified to chime in on,” Cummings said. “Sebastian Maniscalco is truly the hardest working, most gracious, classiest person in the comedy business. I feel like you guys have all had to deal with the new generation of dickheads. The YouTubers, the Logan Pauls — sorry, I’m sure you represent him… I remember when I first started comedy, this guy would leave his job as a waiter and he would come to a spot and then go back, and now he is playing the biggest venues in the country, selling them out, moving tickets, making people laugh across generations, hosting huge award shows. Not this one. I’m sure he passed, which is why I’m here. One of the kindest, most brilliant comedians in the game right now, who is not one of these dicks who like demands to be paid in cash or some s—. I love him. He is so funny. He’s one of my heroes and friends.”
The complete winners’ list:
Major Tour of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Elton John, Farewell Yellow Brick Road
Best Rock Tour (Box Office Weighted)
The Rolling Stones, No Filter Tour
Best Hip-Hop/R&B Tour
Post Malone, Beerbongs & Bentleys Tour, Runaway Tour
Best Pop Tour
Pink, Beautiful Trauma World Tour
Best Country Tour (Box Office Weighted)
Kacey Musgraves, Oh, What A World Tour (I & II)
Best Latin Tour (Box Office Weighted)
Jennifer Lopez, It’s My Party: The Live Celebration
Comedy Tour of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Sebastian Maniscalco, Stay Hungry Tour, You Bother Me Tour
Best Support/Special Guest Act
Joan Jett for Heart (Love Alive Tour)
Best Residency (Box Office Weighted)
Billy Joel, Madison Square Garden
Best Non-Music Tour of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama
Best New Headliner
Music Festival of The Year (Over 30K attendance) (US Only) (Box Office Weighted)
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, Texas
Music Festival of The Year (Under 30K attendance) (US Only) (Box Office Weighted)
Newport Folk Festival, Newport, R.I.
International Music Festival of The Year (Box Office Weighted)
Glastonbury Festival, United Kingdom
Nightclub of the Year
(Box Office Weighted)
Troubadour , West Hollywood, Calif.
Theatre of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn.
Arena of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Madison Square Garden, New York City, N.Y.
Red Rocks Award – Outdoor Concert Venue of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, Calif.
Best New Concert Venue (Box Office Weighted)
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Ga.
International Venue of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
The O2 Arena, United KingdomVenue Executive of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Laurie Jacoby, Madison Square Garden
Talent Buyer of the Year
Stacy Vee, Goldenvoice / Messina Touring Group
Small Venue Talent Buyer of the Year (Under 10K Capacity)
Stacie George, Live Nation
Bill Graham Award / Promoter of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Louis Messina, Messina Touring Group
International Promoter of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts
Bobby Brooks Award – Agent of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Marty Diamond, Paradigm
International Booking Agent of the Year
Emma Banks, CAA
Booking Agency of the Year
Independent Booking Agency of the Year (Global)
High Road Touring
Rising Star Award
Sara Bollwinkel, Paradigm
Personal Manager of the Year (Box Office Weighted)
Coran Capshaw, Red Light Management
Road Warrior of the Year
Gus Brandt (Foo Fighters, Pharrell Williams, NERD)
Transportation Company of the Year
Best Concert Visuals
Best Concert Sound
Marketing/PR Executive of the Year
Kate McMahon, Messina Touring Group
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, Texas
Best Person to Score a Dinner With
Michael Rapino, Live Nation<
The Wall (least likely to cave on agreed-upon terms)
Gerry Barad, Live Nation
Life of the Party
Ron Delsener, Live Nation
Most Frequently Name-Dropped
Irving Azoff, The Azoff Company