Longest and Shortest Hugo Award Ceremonies

Hugo Award ballots must be received by Midnight, Pacific Daylight Time, on July 7. Denvention 3 members are eligible – do your online voting soon and beat the rush. The imminent deadline also means that about a month from now another audience of nominees will be sweating out the results. Diana and I will be there.

I said in “Silverberg and Resnick: That’s Entertainment!” in File 770 #153 that I’m no fan of the Hugo-Ceremony-as-100-Yard-Dash. The ceremony’s purpose is to honor the best in our field, and to me the clock is not the tool to measure how well that’s done. But I’d agree that some of the shortest ones have been great fun.

When the fans who love speedy Hugo Ceremonies start honoring people on a Mount Rushmore for toastmasters, Marta Randall will be right up there in Washington‘s place. She always did an admirable job of making haste as entertainingly as possible. And no wonder people were moving. The funniest moment of the fast-moving 1982 Hugos came when she goosed presenter Bob Tucker as he left the stage. Marta’s 90-minute 1982 Hugo Ceremony set a record unequalled for 23 years.

Chicago brought her back for 1991 and the Hugos sped by in 100 minutes, a brisk pace if not a record. Tucker presented again and when he started to leave the stage covered his butt with both hands. But Marta came over, gave him a big hug, and winked to the audience, “Now I know why he was kicked out of the Garden of Eden.”

Only in 2005 did Paul McCauley and Kim Newman turn in the second 90-minute performance with Interaction’s Hugo Ceremony.

All people who yelp like they’re being tortured when the Hugos last two hours should pay silent tribute when in the presence of anyone who endured the 1968 Worldcon banquet. It was Toastmaster Bob Silverberg’s baptism of fire — a baptism of live steam for everyone else. Fans endured dinner and speeches in 95-degree heat, in an unventilated ballroom without air conditioning, for five hours and fifteen minutes before the first Hugo was presented. As Mike Resnick recalled in File 770:100:

[At 8:00 p.m.] Phil Farmer got up to give his speech…. [When] he paused for a drink of water more than 2 hours into it, we all gave him a standing ovation in hope it would convince him he was through. It didn’t. He finished after 10:30. Time for the Hugos, right? Wrong. Randy Garrett gets up, takes the microphone away from Toastmaster Bob Silverberg, and sings about 50 verses of ‘Three Brave Hearts and Three Bold Lions.’ Finally, approaching 11:15, Silverberg gets up to hand out the Hugos.

1 thought on “Longest and Shortest Hugo Award Ceremonies

  1. I don’t believe in “sprint Hugos” either, but I don’t want this year’s Hugo Ceremony to drag out for a long time either. We’ll start at 7:30pm, and should be done between 9:00pm and 9:30pm. Should give people lots of time to show off their Hugos and party well into the night.

    I have to admit, for sheer entertainment value, the Marta Randall MC’ed ceremony back in 1982 was the best I saw.

    Laurie Mann
    Denvention Hugo Award Ceremony

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