Bowie, Beasties Toss Off Quips at 11th Webby Awards Show

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There are few instances in which it's appropriate for a tech journalist to stake out a red-carpet event, and even fewer where it's appropriate for geeks and startup CEOs to walk the carpet, preening for a gaggle of photographers.

Tuesday night's Webby Awards gala on Wall Street was an opportunity for both.

We threw elbows and jockeyed for position with the camera crews, TV news reporters and photographers who do this kind of thing every day.

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The main difference is that we actually knew who the people walking the carpet were.

For instance, "LonelyGirl15" Jessica Lee Rose made it all the way down the carpet without being asked "Who are you wearing?", perhaps because the interviewers were too busy grilling us about who she was.

For her part, Rose looked humbly flummoxed by all the attention.

"It's my first big awards show," she said.

We fielded the same queries when LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye and Corporate Communications Director Kay Luo approached.

("Tell your producers it's like MySpace for grownup professionals — they might like that angle.")

The biggest buzz was around host Rob Corddry, formerly of "The Daily Show," and the Beastie Boys, who had some fun with the press.

When asked what the hot new technology is going to be, Beastie Adam Horovitz presciently proclaimed "Ringtones — ringtones are gonna be really big."

"I thought this was a fashion award show," he continued.

Corrdry kicked off the award ceremony by outlining the rules, the most important of which is the policy of the five-word acceptance speech.

Corrdry had told us earlier on that he'd be enforcing the rule using a kick to the nether regions of anyone who broke it.

Here's a sampling of the five-word speeches: "Don't s--- where you eat."

LinkedIn: "Come connect with me tonight." (Corrdry called this the "best ever")

Facebook: "I'm just here for Bowie."

Blip.TV: (to Corrdry) "Much funnier on The Daily Show." (six words, no apology)

FabSugar: "This beats a new Chanel."

The Reggie Bush Project: "Finally, a Bush everyone loves."

Manchester United Official Website: "We gave you David Beckham."

What is Enlightenment?: "Get enlightened or die trying." "Have sex. Make more kids."

NY Times Dealbook: "Hey Rupert, we're available. Call."

Depression: Real Stories: (to Corrdry) "Depression hurts, Rob. Get help."

eHealthInsurance: "Don't go naked, get covered."

Wikitravel: "No longer a lonely planet."

SavetheInternet: "Verizon doesn't own the Internet."

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority: "Fewer Boston drivers. You're welcome."

FindLaw: "Anyone need a good lawyer?" "Fat cats need watchdogs." (four words, but still...)

Factcheck: "Lying politicians can kiss my..."

Maxim Mobile: "There's no screen too small."

Clearification: "Thanks Mom, whoever you are!"

World Vision AIDS Experience: "15 million AIDS orphans. Help"

"Snakes on a Plane" Samuel L. Jackson Phone Calls:" "We only get five words?"

• Click here for a list of all the five-word speeches.

Special awards were given to the Beastie Boys (Artist of the Year) and YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley (Person(s) of the Year), and Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to "The eBay Community" (CEO Meg Whitman accepted) and David Bowie.

Bowie breezed in for a very short speech making fun of the five-word limit, and then breezed out just as quickly.

[For reader edification, here is Bowie's speech, as transcribed by the Times of London:

"I only get five words? S---, that was five. Four more there. That's three. Two." Then he left.

The Beastie Boys' speech was equally good: "Can anyone fix my computer?"

More seriously, the BBC accepted its award for Best News Site with a message to correspondent Alan Johnston, kidnapped several weeks ago in the Gaza Strip: "Alan, we're thinking of you.]

But the high point of the night for us was when Bowie came within 10 feet of us on his way out, looked us in the eye, and smiled.

All we could think of was the "Magic Dance" song from "Labyrinth."

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