If you've seen the nominees for this year's Comedy Awards, you might be wondering who chooses them. The nominees are selected by The Comedy Awards Board of Directors
, an esteemed panel of comedy legends from all different aspects of the industry.
As this year's ceremony approaches, we asked a few members of the Board to share their thoughts on comedy, comedians and other funny stuff.What is the importance of having an awards show dedicated to comedy?
Every opportunity to thank comedians for what they do, bringing smiles to everybodys faces, is a good thing.JAMIE MASADA:
Comedy is life.SANDY WERNICK:
An awards show dedicated to comedy is a fulfillment of lifes long passion. [We strive] to recognize true genius and talent in a field when an organization such as the Motion Picture Academy has consistently failed to recognize comedy. Having a dedicated awards show puts comedy where it belongs, in the forefront of the entertainment industry.CAROLINE HIRSCH:
I think it's very important that there's an awards show that is dedicated to comedy. Comedy is an art form in the same way that film, television, music, and theatre are. As each of those has its own awards show, it is equally important that the contributions of those in the comedy industry are formally recognized and honored each year.STEVE LEVINE:
Comedy is a huge and international market which grows and changes all the time. No other form of the performing arts is unrepresented in this area.JOAN RIVERS: The world needs something more to laugh at than just Katherine Heigls acting skills.
Who is your biggest comedic influence/favorite comedian?
JAMIE MASADA: Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Richard Pryor had the power to make people cry and laugh at the same time. He showed me how laughter can heal peoples anguish and sadness, and how powerful that can be. Thats why I often refer to comedians as doctors of the soul. Carlin taught me 31 years ago about marketing. He told me if I dont put his name on the marquee, the people will come to the club to see other people, and if he comes as a surprise, everybody in the club will spread the word that he just showed up. They become billboards and advertising for the club. So from then on I cut most of my advertising budget to 00!
MITZI SHORE: Lenny Bruce
PETER PRINCIPATO: Influenced and inspired by: Peter Sellers, John Belushi, Doug Kenney, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ivan Reitman, Woody Allen, Lorne Michaels, Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Bette Midler, Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, Tim Conway, Bob Newhart, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Bernie Brillstein, Dick Van Dyke, Andy Kaufman, Harold Ramis, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, John Hughes and Lucille Ball.
SHARON JACKSON: Peter Sellers and Hal Ashby
SANDY WERNICK: To single out one comedian or even one genre would be impossible..my favorites range from the Marx Bros. to Chris Rock, to Shelley Berman to Nichols and May, Henny Youngman, Rodney, Smothers Bros. and Victor Borge.
RAY ROMANO: That would have to be Bill Cosby. The first album I owned was To Russell My Brother, Whom I Slept With." It was my introduction to stand-up and I was hooked the minute I heard it. I laughed, I identified, and I related. I love all forms of comedy, but Cosby set such an example for me. I'm not saying I directly emulated his style and approach, but it definitely influenced me.
CAROLINE HIRSCH: I would have to say my biggest comedic influence was Johnny Carson. There was a time when getting on The Tonight Show with Johnny was a sure sign that a comedian had made it. He was sort of like a gatekeeper for up-and-coming comedians, and he helped launch the careers of many of today's biggest stars. I like to try and emulate what he did on his show at my club. We put only the very best comedians on our stage, from the established headliners to the emerging comedians, and we like to think that once you've played Carolines, you've arrived.
JOAN RIVERS: I dont have just one, I have two: Gallagher and Carrot Top. One smashed fruit and the other is named for a vegetable. Fuck Lenny Bruce, not only are these guys geniuses, theyre good for your stool.
How did you get started in the comedy industry?
MITZI SHORE: My ex-husband and I opened The Comedy Store...I took it over...I had the vision...I created an artist colony...free flowing...I found and made more stars that way than ever before or ever since.
PETER PRINCIPATO: A fan and student since childhood. Then working out of the New York office of the William Morris Agency, developing many interests including sketch comedians, stand-up comedians, writers, directors. Then leaving to be a part of Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video Entertainment in my first management/production company into forming my own company.
SANDY WERNICK: My love for comedy started in the Catskill Mountains and then at MCA in NY as an agent. My responsibility was to sign and book the new wave of comedians.which included many monologists such as Bob Newhart, Shelly Berman, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen
CAROLINE HIRSCH: I've always been a big comedy fan, and when I opened Carolines as a cabaret club back in 1982, I had envisioned comedy being an integral part of the club's programming. It's something that I thought would be a successful component to what we were doing at the club. The first comedian I ever hired to perform at the club was Jay Leno. And the rest, as they say, is history.
JOAN RIVERS: Completely by accident. I was in France one day and i was sitting next to some woman and she was writing a speech and she kept saying, let them eat pie, let them eat pie, and I jumped in and said, Cake. Its funnier. It has a k sound. Long story short, p.s. she offered me a job as a court jester and the rest is history.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just getting starting in the comedy industry?
JAMIE MASADA: Do not spend money on teachers or frustrated industry people who cannot teach you anything. They think they know comedy but all they really know is how to take your money. You have to learn how to hold a mic, and get yourself a tape recorder, and go to open mics as much as you can. Learn by doing. Its the only way. And trust what you think is funny. That is what makes you different from everybody else. You audience is you teacher.
MITZI SHORE: Good luck.
PETER PRINCIPATO: Develop a thick skin. Let rejection roll off your back. Bomb a bunch of times. Always be creating, writing, generating new material. Constantly challenge yourself and never question your talent and dream. Stay strong and be part of a community of like-minded talented and business minded individuals. Don't suck.
SHARON JACKSON: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Seuss
SANDY WERNICK: The best advice I can give anyone as they get into the comedy business is to study and learn from all the greats in the past..learn the originals, those that started new styles etc. and use that knowledge to understand what makes a comic great.
RAY ROMANO: The best advice for someone starting in comedy, stand-up in particular, was given to me years ago by Max Alexander.
We met at Dangerfields in New York when I was first starting out. He was a working comic and I asked him how do I do it, how do I get to the point where I'm making a living at it. His answer was simple but exactly right. He said, "You need to just do it, get up as much as you can, and it'll happen."
He was right. What he was saying was, just get better any way you can, and the only real way is to get on stage as much as possible. Your job in the beginning is not to look for paying work, but to look for stage time. Get better, get material, get as much experience in front of an audience as you can. Every time you get on stage you learn something about yourself. Even the two drunks in the back table, late night sets make you a better performer. A better comic. Eventually, if you do the work on yourself and your act, the opportunities to make money will be available. Worry about one thing first, your act.
CAROLINE HIRSCH: You need to find your voice. Be unique. Don't try to copy someone else's style. Also, understand that it's a process; there's no such thing as an overnight success. It takes time to develop. What the great comedians make to look so easy actually took years and years of hard work. You have to be continually honing your craft -- writing, and getting as much stage time as possible.
STEVE LEVINE: If its your love and passion, you dont need advice. You just need to follow the path if its in your blood.
JOAN RIVERS: Always have something to fall back on. Like a casting couch.
What has changed most since you first got into the comedy industry?
JAMIE MASADA: If you are funny you dont need Hollywood agents or studios or networks anymore. You can get exposure on the internet. If you are funny, there is an audience for you out there. Just post your stuff and they will find you.
MITZI SHORE: People
SHARON JACKSON: The Economy
SANDY WERNICK: the one thing you learn is that nothing changestalent is talent, funny is funnythere will always be a steady stream of comedians as our society NEEDS comedy to lighten up our world and help us laugh during tough times
CAROLINE HIRSCH: I think what's changed the most in the industry since I started is the development and advancement of the various media through which comedy is presented -- there used to be two ways to see stand-up: live in the clubs or on TV. Now, with the development of the internet and social media, comedians have multiple platforms -- including You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter -- on which they can share their work and promote themselves. As an example, today comedians like Louis C.K. and Jim Gaffigan are now self-producing their own comedy specials and making them available online directly through their personal websites.
STEVE LEVINE: It has become very flooded with people who think its easy and anyone can do it. And they cant and they shouldnt.
JOAN RIVERS:Luckily, there are more women in power. Unfortunately, they all think Im a bitch.
What's your favorite joke?
JAMIE MASADA: A 90-year-old guy is walking through a park, looks down and sees a talking frog. The frog says, If you pick me up and kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess and you can make love to me and Ill do whatever you want me to do. The old man picks up the frog and puts it in his pocket. The frog says, Arent you going to kiss me? The old man replies, At my age, I would rather have a talking frog.
MITZI SHORE: One that works
RAY ROMANO: Don't know if its my favorite, but if you're talking about jokey jokes, then this one is so stupid it has to be in the top ten.Two cowboys on horseback are walking back to their ranch. They get lost and soon its night and darkness has set upon them.In the distance they hear a loud beat 'BOOM' 'BOOM, 'BOOM'.One cowboy looks up worried. "I don't like the sound of those drums." Suddenly an Indian jumps out from behind a rock and apologizes."He's not our usual Drummer!"
CAROLINE HIRSCH: I don't know that I could pinpoint a favorite joke. But I certainly have a favorite style. I think Larry David best exemplifies this style. It's identifying those little things in life that we all know and can relate to and putting that comic spin on them.
STEVE LEVINE: Knock, Knock
JOAN RIVERS My Sex life.