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The Animation Pimp: ASIFA-East Festival. May 16, 2004. Manhattan.

The Animation Pimp looks back on the emotional agony of receiving an award at the ASIFA-East Festival.

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris Robinson.

Im supposed to get an award tonight. Figure its a prank being pulled one Hayden Mindell, a former OIAF employee who was the victim of two nifty jokes in L.A. and Ottawa. The last one occurred about two to three years ago, but I keep waiting for that day when Hayden has his revenge. And hell, Im so accustomed to being called a retarded asshole by some of you JL freaks that when someone wants to celebrate something Ive done, I figure that theres got to be a catch.

The award will be the last thing of the evening. Fuck me. My heart is pounding all night. Yes Ive no problem hosting every OIAF or SAFO screening or introducing filmmakers not a problem at all but when the spotlight is on me I get flush, eyes down, heart races. If someone yells at me or pushes me well thats easier. I can always slug them or hurl insults. But a compliment Shutter shivers and shits. Thank you seems unsatisfactory and cliché. Maybe a good ol FUCK YOU would liven it up.

Okay but thats not why Im writing. As Im sitting here nervously watching the proceedings, I discover something very disturbing. First, let me give you the setting. The ASIFA-East festival announces the awards in different categories: student, commissioned, independent. There are about three to four awards given and then the films from that section are screened. Theres a lot of applause. Id say four applauses per person. Applause when they go to the stage, leave the stage, film starts, film ends. Thats a lot of applause. Its too much really when you consider that the applause BEFORE and AFTER the announcements always fall short.

Not one winner made it to the podium before the applause ended, nor did they return to their seat before the second round of clapping collapsed. In both cases, the winner, betrayed and abandoned by the audience, was left walking alone in silence. So, for example, Karen Aqua went up to get her experimental award but as soon as she hit the stage the applause had completely faded, leaving her with a long, uncomfortable walk across the stage. You hear the crickets. The return home was even worse. AS soon as Karen reached the floor, she was faced with a long walk down the aisle in silence. It was like everyone else had moved on. She meant nothing to them now. Yes, dear you got your nice piece of paper, but be a good girl and hurry back to your seat will you. Times a wasting. We need to move forward.

Okay, so Im freaked out now. I do NOT want to walk across the stage in front of a silent audience. I mention the problem to my two ex-RISD wingnut seatmates, Fran Krause (Mr. Smile) and Jesse Schmal (Sub, Kids Next Door). After a few more announcements they too notice the problem.

We discuss the setbacks of applause, specifically its superfluity. Why four rounds of applause? It seems too much, especially in light of the front/back end shortage. But if we just have an applause when the winner goes up he/she is then left with a very awkward and LONG walk back to their seat. If anything, we need more front/back end applause. Maybe people are saving it up for the films. A long applause during the announcements would tire their arms (remember the crowd is comprised of people who make a living with their hands).

Okay so lets focus on the films. Applauding before a film is just wrong. How do we even know its any good? No one applauds before a film at festivals or in cinemas. Course some would argue that we should applaud the person just for making the film to begin with. Perhaps, but what if the film promotes a value you find reprehensible? PESs new film promotes urinating in the ocean. I prefer lakes. How can I applaud his film? Can I now turn my back on that film after Ive already applauded it? Seems a bit deceitful to me.

Okay so we can certainly knock off pre-film applause. No good can come of it. No one will be hurt by its absence and it will, most importantly, give the audience additional strength for the announcement applause.

Now the end of film applause. We certainly need it although not everyone likes the film and so some additional energy is saved through an absence of applause or by using the energy efficient half-assed golf clap that involves the fingertips of the right hand lightly tapping (or even brushing) the right palm. But wait, Fran asks a brilliant question. Has anyone ever made a film with pre-recorded applause at the end. Who said Americans were the special-ed folks of the world? Genius, Krause, pure genius. It makes perfect sense on both ends. It eliminates the need for the audience to waste more energy applauding and the filmmaker doesnt need to worry about what music to use during their end credits. The post-film applause is often made out of habit more than passion, so why waste your time and energy when the film can do it for you?

This is good. I feel that Schmal, Krause and I have potentially saved and radically altered the future of cinema.

But this doesnt help me tonight. How the fuck am I going to deal with the inevitable audience betrayal that awaits me? Perhaps I could just remain seated, oblivious to their applause when my name is called. Theyd eventually give up. That would show em. Give em a taste of the treason theyve fed everyone else. Then after they stop, Id hop to my feet and walk to the stage. Surprised, the audience would be forced to give me an additional pre-award applause. Still it would probably fall short again before I hit the podium.

What the hell am I going to do? Its getting closer. My heart thumps like wet flesh on a bare ass. Sweat appears (on my brow). And fuckanutbutt Drew Carey is in the crowd. I havent felt this way since the Yankee game this afternoon when I was FORCED to rise for the seventh inning rendition of God Bless America as americanwingnutpatriots shouted TAKE YOUR HAT OFF all around me. What the fuck is it about the hat, boys? How is removing a piece of cotton made in China from your head a device that these days is saving you from cancer a form of respect?

I, of course, refused to sing. I was always told that God Blessed Canada. To sing otherwise would be treason. Still... wasnt quite as scary as the Japanese businessmen complete with accents singing the U.S. anthem. That was damn funny. Forty years ago the Americans and Japanese try to annihilate each other, but when they smell dollar, all is forgiven. Ba ha ha ha. Okay sorry not gonna go there. Where was I? Okay Im freaking out. I WILL NOT BE ABANDONED LIKE THE OTHERS.

Linda Simensky announces my name. I hear the applause and calmly walk down the aisle. As I hit the stage, I sense the clap collapse. I will not let them leave me. In a flash, I sprint across the stage and reach the podium just as the applause shatters into a smattering of claps (Krause and Schmal, I figure) before falling completely and utterly into silence.

I made it. Relieved, Im hardly aware of what Im saying. Too excited to speak. Muttered a few shout outs to the Virgils, joked about pranks and dreamed a dream of a Quincy reunion. For a moment, I felt certain I saw Drew Carey a man who has seen first hand the very darkness in the souls of whom I speak give me a proud nod of the head. As if he was saying, You did it kid, you did it. You showed those Friends-loving bastards whose line it REALLY is.

Overconfidence envelops me. I strut across the stage, applause swimming in my head. But as soon as I jump off the stage, I feel a slap of silence. BASTARDS. Theyve fucking betrayed me too. Forgotten. My pained eyes look across the rows, but their eyes ignore me and look forward awaiting their next victim. I pass Careys row, preying for his sympathy, but he too has gone, feigning fatigue his head is lowered into his hands. GOD DAMN YOU DREW CAREY.

Accompanied by no one, no thing, the walk home is long and lonely. Lapped, clapped and spit, I fall into the shadows of my seat, swallowed by the darkness of yesterday.

Other No Less Disturbing NY moments

OConnors discussion of chocolate milk, blood and puss.Plymptons love.Bob Sheppard Dilworth standing across from me adorned with neck scarf, Hawaiian shirt and cigar.Olivia Wards brother who despite being awoke by phone at 2:00 am INSTANTLY knew and hummed the Quincy theme.Pat Smiths unwavering esteem for Friends.Urine-drenched hallway in Tribeca.

Chris Robinson is little more than a man. In his spare time he cares for the elderly.