Proceeds from last night's New York's Funniest Reporter competition, of which I was a judge, went to benefit Operation Uplink, which helps our servicemen and women keep in touch with their families back home. I reminded myself of this many, many times in order to keep from bolting for the door. Pictured above: the lowest point of my life.
The emcee of last night's event was a black lady comedian from New York named Leighann Lord, and her act included bits about a) she is a black lady from New York and b) did she mention she is black? c) also: a lady! and d) people on the subway; sometimes they do funny things! "I think she's actually cooling the audience down," one of the nervous amateur comedians worried as she warmed the audience up.
First up was Star Editor At Large Julia Allison. (What were you expecting?) She read her bit aloud from the screen of her pink laptop. It was about being a dating columnist. It had some funny moments—"Can a guy be too Jappy?"—but everyone else at least had their shit memorized. Next!
Sean McCarthy, who writes features for the Daily News, appeared onstage and handily won the competition by having his act really down, just like a professional comedian. I don't actually remember any of his jokes but I remember laughing. He definitely benefited from Julia's lead-in. Also, he seemed like a pretty nice guy. Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby and I, who were the only promised judges to actually show up at the event, quickly decided that he was the winner.
He was followed by an hour or so of largeish women with "producer" in their titles making jokes about their weight and isn't dating weird.
Here's the thing about Laurel Touby: Never having met her, I had kind of assumed that a lot of the vitriolic things written about her on this site and elsewhere were just a response to her cartoonish, boa-wearing public persona and maybe had nothing to do with her as a person. So I wanted to give her a fair shake! Also, we were going to have to sit next to each other all evening.
"Hi, Laurel," I said. "I can't believe we've never met before. I'm Emily."
She nodded at me, then resumed BlackBerrying.
"I'm ... um, I'm not the one who writes nasty things about you!" I said desperately. (Stupid!)
"They all say that," she said. Then she gave me a little lecture about how mean Gawker is.
"Actually I feel like I try really hard not to be gratuitously mean, and that Gawker is probably fairer now than it's ever been before?"
"Oh, I don't read Gawker," she told me. Okay then!
The competition continued long after I'd thought it would end, and even long after that. And after that there was a twenty minute set by Post dating columnist Mandy Stadtmiller. And after THAT there was a performance by someone called "the Psychic madman," whose act actually involved splitting melons a la Gallagher. "I want to die," a fellow audience member-hostage texted me at one point. "I wish the world would end right now," I responded. What is it about comedy that is so inescapably unfunny? I don't know, but I am never entering a comedy club again as long as I live.