NEW YORK (AP) — The notion that TV viewers need another awards show may be laughable.
Exactly. "The Comedy Awards," which began last year, celebrates the art of comedy. And this year's presentation, which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on Comedy Central, is a funny affair packed with masters of mirthmaking including Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Chris Parnell, Maya Rudolph, Adam Scott and Jim Carrey.
Taped April 28 at New York's Hammerstein Auditorium, the gala event salutes comedy achievements in standup, TV, films and digital.
Robin Williams gets the Standup Icon Award.
Don Rickles is honored with the Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence, presented by Jon Stewart and Robert De Niro (who demonstrates his own shortcomings as a standup, bobbling wisecracks such as telling Rickles, "I've always thought of you as a comedian and actor. But since we did 'Casino' together, I've come to think of you as, well, more of a comedian").
"Rango" is the best animated comedy film. French actor (and Oscar winner) Jean Dujardin is named best film actor for "The Artist."
NBC's "Parks and Recreation" is chosen as best comedy series, and its star, Amy Poehler, is named best actress, while FX's "Louie" is the best sketch/alternative comedy series. Best club comic: Hannibal Buress.
Most of the two dozen categories were judged by 1500 working members of the comedy community, choosing from nominees selected by a board of directors comprising such names as Carol Burnett, James Burrows, Stephen Colbert, Budd Friedman, Conan O'Brien, Joan Rivers, George Schlatter, Jon Stewart and Lily Tomlin.
But several categories are left to the public, who, through airtime on Sunday, can make their picks on the Comedy Awards website to choose: the funniest person on Twitter; best comedy podcast; best comedy app; and best remix, mash-up or supercut.
The two-hour telecast begins with a bang as Chris Rock announces the year's best comedy special, among whose five nominees, he jokes, "Three are funny. One used to be funny. And one was NEVER funny!"
Taking the award is the online standup special "Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater."
The winner as best comedy director of a film (for "Bridesmaids"), Paul Feig, plies his craft by directing Will Arnett in a performance reading Feig's acceptance remarks.
And accepting the award for "Bridesmaids" as best comedy film, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo deliver a funny, even fetching display of wrestling on the stage floor for custody of the single trophy. Now, THAT's comedy!
Presenter Tracy Morgan delivers a bombshell: He announces he's quitting show business, to join the party-hearty life of the U.S. Secret Service.
The sentimental highlight of the evening is seeing Don Rickles gratefully receive his trophy.
In rambling remarks that alternate between tender recollections of performers he reveres (notably Johnny Carson) intercut with his trademark insults, Rickles, who turns 86 on Tuesday, clinches his title as (in the words of Stewart) "the patron saint of comedy."
"I see many in the audience," he says tenderly, then hurls a zinger: "I realize tonight, I'm the biggest name here."
He's kidding, but he needn't be.
"The Comedy Awards" is a zesty who's who of jesters, supplemented by Andy Richter in the announcer's booth and The Roots as the robust house band.
And though Chris Rock marvels at the top of the evening, "They televise THIS — and they DON'T do the Nobel Peace Prize," it's no wonder. This is much funnier. Anything for a laugh!
Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier