At the close of a spirited ceremony in Los Angeles, the iOWest community gathered together to sing “We Are iO” – a parody of “We Are The World” commemorating and celebrating the Hollywood improv theater’s reopening – at the 2008 iOWest Del Close Awards on Friday night.
After a series of increasingly ribald Red Carpet interviews from Relationsh!t host Judith Shelton, emcee Josh Dubose took the stage to guide the standing-room only audience through the presentation of seventeen awards for achievements – both valid and dubious – in the field of comedic improvisation. A collection of awards that, according to Dubose, “only means something in these doors.”
“I’ve been improvising for about 10 years with iO and my Mom still thinks I go to The Improv three times a week to do stand-up,” Dubose quipped.
Kicking off with a spirited musical number from the cast of Opening Night: The Improvised Musical, highlights of the evening included a second consecutive win for Sexiest Player by Nick Armstrong, a salty acceptance speech from Most Underrated Player Zabeth Russell, and a surprisingly moving acceptance speech from Most Supportive Audience Member winner Herb Koss. Equally impressive and hilarious were a series of show-stealing interpretive dances for each Best Harold Team Nominee from the Del Close Award Dancers.
Announcer Craig Cackowski proved to be one of the night’s biggest winners – taking home awards for Best Improvised Non-Harold Show (as part of Dasariski) and Teacher of the Year. In his acceptance speech for the latter, a boozed-up, tongue-in-cheek Cackowski dedicated his win “to all the haters out there.” After giving his fellow nominees a verbal dressing down, Cackowski punctuated his speech with “Fuck Karen Graci.”
Bar Manager Brian O’Connell accepted the James Grace Award from its namesake Artistic Director James Grace. The special award, given annually to “someone who goes above and beyond the call” was given to O’Connell for his dedication “not only to iO, but to improv in general.”
“This is my home,” O’Connell said in his acceptance speech. “This is my family.”
But the most emotional portion of the evening came after the final award for Best Harold Team was presented to winners King Ten. “We Are iO” – a musical video short written by Matt Manser and Phillip Wilburn, took a parodic take on “We Are The World,” referencing the theater’s recent closure due to an automobile accident. Replacing 80’s pop stars with iO mainstays, the video and accompanying live sing-along brought the 2008 iOWest Del Close Awards to a fitting end: proud, funny, and completely self-congratulatory.
Video highlights from the Red Carpet and ceremony, along with official and backstage photos will be posted here in the coming weeks. Be sure to check back often to relive your favorite memories as we all look forward to next year’s ceremony.
2008 LIST OF WINNERS
- Excellence in Bartending: Jon Crowley
- Best Waitstaff: Eve Fizz
- Hardest Working Intern: Tilt Tyree
- Most Supportive Audience Member: Herb Koss
- Best Andy Dick Black Box Show: Relationsh!t
- Sexiest Player: Nick Armstrong
- Best Portrayal of Furniture or Environment: Eric Hunicutt – Douglas Sarine’s Ponytail (Goal!)
- Best Improvised Non-Harold Show: Dasariski
- Best Scripted Show: Friday 40
- Best Written Piece: Mr. E (Energy) – Scott Gimple (Friday 40)
- Most Underrated Player: Zabeth Russell
- Best Viral Video: Leave General Petraeus Alone
- Coach of the Year: Irene White
- Teacher of the Year: Craig Cackowski
- Best Harold Team: King Ten