The 19th Annual Webby Awards

In case one of the thousands of computers you interact with and/or wear on a daily basis failed to remind you, the 19th Annual Webby Awards were held this week. As has become tradition, the celebration—which honors the year’s best, most important cat videos, as well as the various internet services, infrastructure, and bureaucratic detritus that makes viewing them a possibility—was hosted by a popular comedian. And continuing his time-honored tradition of crushing gigs that he may or may not be all that emotionally invested in, Hannibal Buress stepped up to the plate this year, delivering an opening speech that touched on AOL, the Mad Men finale, and that inescapable U2 album from last year. Delivered with Buress’ usual, slightly rambling comedic style, it’s a must-watch speech for anyone who loves to see tech workers awkwardly try to smile while a disinterested genius riffs about flatulent Uber operators.

Of course, it’s possible that the Webby crowd simply wasn’t accustomed to Buress’ softly delivered verbosity, since most of the ceremony’s speakers are constrained by its famous five-word limit on acceptance speeches. (And heaven help anyone who violates the rule— “Shia LaBeouf Live” writer and performer Rob Cantor was lucky to escape alive after dropping “I never learned how to count” on the ravenous crowd.)

Luckily for public order, most of the show’s other honorees, which included Twitch vice president Matthew DiPietro, Kevin John Hussey of NASA, and Silicon Valley star Zach Woods, were able to keep themselves within the proscribed limits. The best of their laconic offerings played to the same strengths that any viral internet content might: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pat Quinn’s call for continued fundraising hit the same notes of easily accessible inspiration that made people dumping water on their heads such a national craze back in 2014, while Ellie Kemper’s gleeful scatology (“So excited! Livestreaming my pants!”) landed perfectly on the all-important “Funny Lady/Bathroom Humor” continuum. But, as ever with the people of the World Wide Web, it was self-deprecation and self-directed hate that truly won the night, with Chelsea Peretti’s simple, “The internet. Must. Be. Stopped,” landing to cheers and applause from the assembled internet folk.

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