Here’s an Idea: Hand Over Awards Hosting to Fans

Jay Mohr hosted the 2011 NHL Awards from the Palms Hotel and Casino with all the aplomb and charisma of Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross. His performance was so sweaty, you’d have sworn the microphone was about to fall right out of the comic’s palm. The whole performance by Mohr felt lazy, relying on his impressions (Tracy Morgan, Norm MacDonald) even earlier than he had the year before. In short, the whole thing felt like the equivalent of inviting your uncle over to do that one funny thing he did that you loved when you were five, but now you’re an adult, so you’d just like your uncle to come up with something new to talk about.

It didn’t help that Mohr seems to refuse to endear himself to hockey fans. The portion of the show where he railed against goalie fights seemed like an argument that Mohr didn’t even believe himself, as if he needed to say something to rile up someone. Frankly, if Mohr’s performance did anything but make you change the channel, you should re-examine the things in life that are truly worth getting angry about. Yet, for some reason, Mohr tried to make himself controversial in what should be the professional equivalent of hosting a really expensive end-of-the-year pizza party.

The sad part about this is that the NHL Awards were probably a bit of an improvement from the hot mess that was last year, at least comedy-wise. True, Mohr got in a couple of zingers (and gamely made a couple of cracks about the Vancouver riots and the Thrashers relocation) and many of the presenters seemed legitimately thrilled to be there (Kevin Smith and Jon Hamm, in particular). Still, however, were the baffling C-list stars who seemed confused by their own presence (Criss Angel, Donny Osmond) and yet another pair of ridiculously terrible musical performances (Dierks Bentley and Far East Movement) made the intelligent fan wonder, as I’m sure many do every year, “Why not just send out a press release and be done with the whole thing?”

Every year, you see a bunch of columns dedicated to improving the annual NHL Awards show, and they all consist of things like hiring more hockey-friendly hosts (hey, I’m all for trying to get Smith back to host next year, or asking Denis Leary to slum a little for a lifetime of free Bruins tickets) to better musical guests (duh) to scrapping the ceremony all together. I’ve come up with an idea of my own that could take the outdated awards ceremony a little bit outside of the box.

Call me biased, but I think hockey fans are some of the funniest darn people on earth. They don’t take their sport too seriously (like baseball fans), and don’t follow players that are already easy caricatures (like football and basketball fans). To make jokes about hockey, it has to be finely crafted, intelligent, and sometimes well researched. I can tell you I’ve definitely spent a half an hour searching through statistics on the web to get a joke correctly on Twitter. Why not take the obsession and sense of humor of the hockey diehard and transfer it to the NHL Awards Show?

What I’m saying is that we should hand the NHL Awards gig over to the fans somewhat. I’ve got an idea for how to do this. Put out a bulletin for hockey fans to come up with their best 5-10 minutes of hockey-related stand-up (where you perform it is up to you) on YouTube and send it into the league. There can be fan voting elements, and the league can decide what fits best for them as well. The winner would be chosen to either co-host the show with an actual NHL player (Paul Bissonnette?) or celeb, or get the gig as “head writer” for the comedy portions of the show.

Having a co-host would protect a potentially green host (though the idea of the YouTube videos would be to sort out all the softies) and give the fan credibility with the rest of the audience. It’d be fun, it’d be exciting television and it could be the unpredictable, semi-niche thing that the NHL can often excel at when they put their minds to something small- or large-scale. At worst, the man or woman is a bad as Mohr has been the last two years, or as unsuited to the gig as Ron MacLean (solid host, but not the biggest comedy guy) had been all those years.

It would also give the fans a real reason to hope that it could be successful and tune in. At this point, there’s enough cynicism about the NHL Awards show to go around between the lame host, cheesy guests, and baffling musical performances. This would engage fans in the telecast like never before. Seeing one of their own take a shot at this, and maybe get some actual laughs, could bring the combination of levity and respect for the hardware that the NHL seems to be going for. One thing’s for sure: please don’t invite Jay Mohr back next year.

About Steve Lepore
Contact me at stevemlepore@gmail.com

3 Responses to Here’s an Idea: Hand Over Awards Hosting to Fans

  1. Kevin says:

    The NHL knows about Biz Nasty.. They know how big his internet fame is.. He loves Vegas, I really wouldn’t be surprised if they got him to do it next year.. Someone like Denis Leary comes to mind. Dude loves hockey. But we don’t know who they’ve offered it to.

  2. Martin says:

    People like Criss Angel and Donny Osmond will always be a part of the awards as long as they are in Vegas. They are there as Vegas entertainers to promote the city. Any event that takes place in Vegas features some performers from the city. The NHL Awards aren’t any different. The Las Vegas Visitors Bureau is a major NHL sponsor so they have some say just like they do at the Daytime Emmys or the Billboard Awards.

    I do hope this is the end of Mohr as host. There has to be some better options like Jon Hamm or a Canadian comic.

  3. kevin says:

    It wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be…no need to put it on TV though.

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