Layers: And The Award Goes to PULITZER SURPRISES!
“Reading is hard, especially if you can’t do it”. This is what Josh Pulitzer told himself every time he failed to pronounce his last name. “Pull, sir! No… Pillow stir! No…Seltzer!” He really understood the great difficulty of reading. For him, reading was just as difficult as Olympic swimming or getting first place in the Dutchess County chili eating contest. If that’s the case, why do they get rewarded in Olympic metals and free chili? Thus, the Pulitzer Prize was born.
The award celebrates excellence and innovation in the fields of newspaper, magazine, online journalism, literature, and musical composition. However, because Pulitzer wasn’t the strongest reader and wasn’t ACTUALLY reading any of the submissions, the award expanded its reach to include almost everything. It’s true. According to the Pulitzer website, anyone can nominate anything for a Pulitzer Prize.
Eliza Cossio (Wyatt Cenac, The Daily Show) and Caroline Schaper (Full Frontal, Letterman), comedians and kin to Josh Pulitzer, decided to follow their family heritage and take advantage of this idea. As a result, the two created Pulitzer Surprises: a comedy show that includes all the shock factor of a horror film without any of the exorcisms. Mr. Pulitzer would love this show for many reasons, but mainly because there’s no reading segments in the show whatsoever!
Pulitzer Surprises ended its brief hiatus August 2nd at its new home in Caveat NY. The Pulitzer sisters (separated at birth) start the show with an interview from real-life Pulitzer Prize winner Jesse Eisinger. The main thing the two of them wanted to know was; what does it take to win a Pulitzer Prize? Eisinger described—using financial terms— how his work in investigating and publishing the immoral practices of Wall Street and how they contributed to the 2009 recession, to which Eliza and Caroline’s aptly timed “sure” and “uh huh” were spot on.
Not even Eisinger’s 10-year estimate until another financial crisis could bring down the energy of the show. Eliza and Caroline invited Karen Chee (Reductress, McSweeney’s) to the stage whose hilarious listicles such as “Easy Ways For Asian-Americans To Fit In” make us all feel a bit better about the impending doom of the dollar. Chee was the first of several comedians that night to perform their submission for a Pulitzer. At the end of the night, the audience votes on which performance they liked the best, and the winner will have their piece submitted for an actual Pulitzer.
What made the show so captivating was how wide ranging the comedian’s submissions were. Chrissy Shackelford (Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, UCB) laid it all out there with a PowerPoint presentation about how Groot is a sexual creature, and Catherine Cohen (It’s A Guy Thing, Difficult People) sung us a sexy single on cellulite.
Of course, we can’t forget Zach Dilanzo (The Daily Show) and Sebastian DiNatale (The Daily Show). These two performed at and won the last Pulitzer Surprises show, but they never received any confirmation. So, their submission this time was a conspiracy theory saying Eliza and Caroline never actually submitted their piece for a Pulitzer. Essentially, it was one big inside joke between them and Eliza and Caroline, but it was nonetheless funny for everyone. In fact, it made them the winners this time around as well.
It was all thanks to Eliza and Caroline for fostering an environment of such ridiculousness. Taking advantage of the loose interpretation of “anything” really allows comedians to explore their weirdest comedic fantasies. There aren’t many shows that can do that, so to create one that does is a feat worthy of a Pulitzer.