The Reapies are unlike any other awards show. Every year, the Minneapolis standup community comes together (more or less) to celebrate the past year's outstanding comedic achievements and to mercilessly make fun of each other. Imagine Bukowski organizing the Oscars with no budget. It's like that.
The categories are a combination of heartfelt and absurd, the nominations are crowd-sourced, and awards themselves are crafted out of raw materials from the Dollar Store. The evening is the brainchild of Patrick Ryan Bauer, Wayne Burfeind, and Chris Maddock, all of the Minneapolis Comedy Death Squad.
But why? We spoke with event organizers, plus local comedians Jenn Schaal and Andrew Cahak, to get their take on "the little schizophrenic awards show that could."
[jump] How did the Reapies get started?
Patrick Ryan Bauer: As with everything we've ever done, it was meant to be a joke. Even forming Minneapolis Comedy Death Squad in the first place was our response to the comedy "gangs" we saw popping up.
I was meeting lots of actors at the time, and the level of seriousness and legitimate self-worship among that crowd is laughable. Obviously I don't mean to malign every actor in Minneapolis, but I definitely met a number of people like that, and caught the contrast between that mindset and the self-loathing of the average comic.
So, I thought comics should get their own version of the Ivey Awards. Only with our awards, it was a potentially dubious honor to be nominated. Of course, the idea of doing something nice in what we thought to be a fairly hostile industry was appealing. However, we were never too concerned with the legitimacy of the awards. I just like to see everyone get together.
How seriously should anybody take the Reapies?
Andrew Cahak: The Reapies are the perfect award for comedy, because while they may be essentially worthless to an outsider, they hold significant, if not sentimental, value to the recipient.
Jenn Schaal: Look, I was voted Best Dancer in seventh grade, so I know firsthand how a superlative win can change your life trajectory. But seriously, I think the Reapies are a mix between joke and serious, because we're in the business of self-deprecation and, generally speaking, we're not the best at accepting real compliments.
What does it mean to be nominated?
Jenn Schaal: The late, great Kate Urquhart said it best: "You can't get mad about a Reapies nomination because it means people know who you are and are taking notice of what you're doing."
Any favorite awards through the years?
Wayne Burfeind: My favorite award was the "2012 Best Comic Award." Louie Anderson sent in a video reading off all the nominees -- except for the person's who actually won, Tim Harmston.
Patrick Ryan Bauer: "Comic Most Likely To Have Their Own Comic Book." I'm an insane comic-book fan, and it gave me the opportunity to write a comic book and have it drawn by legit comic artist Doug Kallberg. The winner was Pat Susmilch, and that couldn't have been more perfect.
If comedians have such a tense relationship with praise, why have an awards show at all?
Andrew Cahak: Every year, the average comedian spends upwards of 800 hours writing, performing, and attending open mics and shows. That's a lot of work that goes largely unseen and unappreciated by the general public. The Reapies are our way of honoring the work and the dedication required not only to perform comedy but also to keep working at it.
IF YOU GO:
7 p.m. Sunday, February 16