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Awards Show Stage-Crashers: A Brief History

We’ve all crashed a party at some point in our lives, but very rarely do you have the opportunity to do so on live television for millions of people to see. Short film producer Elinor Burkett did just that during last night’s Oscar presentation for Best Documentary Short, latching herself onto the microphone in the middle of director Roger Ross Williams’ acceptance speech. Her intrusion and his shell-shocked look show the surface of a deeper story; apparently the two hate each other.

While Kanye’s not-unprecedented mental lapse towards Taylor Swift left in a bitter taste in many mouths, sometimes the art of stage-crashing takes on a kind of morbid hilarity. After the jump, see our roundup of some of the best and high-profile instances of award show stage-crashing, from gratuitous nudity to Courtney Love (surprisingly, not in the same video).

1. 2009 MTV Video Music Awards – Lil’ MaMa
As Jay-Z said himself after his performance of “Empire State of Mind” was stage-crashed by Lil MaMa, “Nobody really talked about that because I’m not a little sweet girl from Middle America.” Near the end of the performance (right before the five minute mark of the video), Lil’ MaMa seemingly materializes out of nowhere while Jay-Z morphs into Medusa mode and shoots her a devastating death glare.

2. 1995 MTV Video Music Awards – Courtney Love

Skip to 2:35 of this video to see an unidentified-flying-makeup kit hurled at Madonna in the middle of an interview, and the interviewer sighing through a “That’s Courtney, everyone’s favorite.” Love continues to throw her makeup at Madonna until invited into the interview, in spite of Madonna’s objections. Over the next few minutes, she drops a completely asinine hospital/surgeon simile and is only occasionally understandable , tripping over herself and reminding us that incoherency is a vital part of a successful stage-crash.

3. 1996 Brit Awards – Jarvis Cocker

During the messianic-tinged performance of “Earth Song” at the 1996 Brit Awards, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker weaves beneath among the ragamuffin chorus desperately trying to reach Michael Jackson as he ascends on a crane. It’s short but sweet, and  funny to see Jarvis briefly elude security guards and puncture the over-the-top performance. Cocker’s justification for the stage-crashing: Michael Jackson “was pretending to be Jesus.”

4. 2003 Grammy Awards, 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, 2006 MTV Video Music Awards – Nicholas “Sixx” King

This professional gate-crasher has infiltrated numerous live broadcasts, interrupting artists ranging from Snoop Dogg and Foo Fighters to Adam Sandler and  Panic At The Disco. At the 2006 VMAs, Sixx pimps out his brand and calls out MTV for not producing his TV show. Like Scott Weiss, who turned his infiltration of the Oscars, Emmys, and SAG Awards into a movie called Crasher, Sixx seems to believe that crashing awards shows can be a lifetime profession.

5. 1998 Grammy Awards – Ol’ Dirty Bastard

He starts by demanding that the crowd please calm down, and the ensuing ramble from Ol’ Dirty Bastard is nothing short of hilarious. Interrupting the Song of the Year winners, ODB bounces from a clearly intoxicated proclamation about the cost of his outfit to end on a wholly uplifting, inspirational message to the youth of America: “When it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children! We teach the children!”

6. 1998 Grammy Awards – Soy Bomb

1998 was a banner year for stage-crashers at the Grammys, including not only ODB’s drunken tirade but a shirtless man with “Soy Bomb” painted on his chest interrupting a Bob Dylan performance. After an initial look of confusion, Dylan keeps his cool through the performance of “Love Sick” as the man continues to writhe maniacally to the music.

7. 1973 and 1974 Academy Awards – Sacheen Littlefeather and The Streaker

Refusing to accept Marlon Brando’s Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather (per his request), Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage and launched into an indictment of Hollywood’s exclusion of Native-American actors. Combined with a streaker momentarily interrupting David Niven’s speech at the following year’s ceremony and last night’s jostling for speech time between the Best Documentary Short recipients, and you have a trifecta of Oscar stage-crashers to rival any other awards show. Which ones would you rather crash?

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