The MoFAs roast corporations not winning on the environmental front

By Andy Vasoyan

Chris Ryan and Kyle Theirmann hosted the inaugural MoFA Awards at the Miracle Theater in Inglewood

For as long as there have been fancy-pants awards ceremonies, there have been smart-aleck pranksters willing to spoof them. For every Oscar, there’s a Razzie. For every Nobel Prize there is an equal and opposite Ig Nobel. And now, the first Tuesday of December has the “The Motherf***er Awards.”

Billed as a way to celebrate the companies that have been, ahem, “f***ing Mother Earth the hardest,” the MoFA awards is the brainchild of surfer and podcast host Kyle Theirmann and New York Times bestselling author Chris Ryan. Hosted at the 400-seat Miracle Theater in Inglewood, the event on Dec. 4 drew an eclectic crowd partly decked out in black-tie, with others in more casual attire, to witness a show aimed at “creating corporate accountability through comedy.”

That environmental-consciousness-meets-Oscars vibe permeated the whole event. Theirmann and Ryan hosted in crisp tuxedos while the statuettes they doled out looked like the Earth spinning atop a giant middle finger. Companies could be nominated for one of six categories: Land, Air, Water, Fire, Spirit and Reality.

The presenters Theirmann and Ryan introduced over the course of the evening were a mix of journalists and environmental activists. First up was Ron Finley, aka the Gangster Gardener, known for his work on guerilla urban farming. He presented the category Land, whose top honors would go to whoever was responsible for making dirt dirtier than ever. “Our nominees,” Finley said, “are working to turn this Earth into a sh*thole feed lot.”

The three nominees all received an awards-show-style intro: Bayer got kudos for their recent purchase of controversial pesticide manufacturer Monsanto, while Brazilian company JBS and Tyson Foods — the world’s largest and second largest processors of beef and pork, respectively — “won” for their harmful waste disposal practices. As every nominee was named and described, the audience would clap, cheer or boo at random, and Tyson Foods received a round of jeers as comedian Brendon Walsh received their trophy. Walsh received a congratulatory “I can’t believe we won!” hug at the podium before rattling off how agribusiness waste created one of the Earth’s largest low-oxygen ocean “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico.

And so it went: five more categories, every one of them full of household names like Nestle, Coca Cola and Wells Fargo. Husband and wife duo Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher accepted the Air award on behalf of JP Morgan Chase, for financing environmentally harmful energy production.

In a particularly timely call-out, California’s own Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) won the Fire category “for bringing us closer to a post-apocalyptic hellscape.” Officials say that 16 fires in California last fall were caused by trees hitting power lines. Comedian Leo Flowers, receiving the award for PG&E, said he was confident that next year PG&E would work to be responsible for “the next 21 fires!” That got laughs mixed with a few “oofs,” considering the death and devastation of the Camp and Woolsey fires.

Like all live spectacle, things can and did go wrong; some technical hitches interrupted the earlier awards, and a sketch with a man dressed up as a monster made out of plastic bags was uncoordinated and out of place. Still, the audience seemed to be having fun. Laughs were loud, boos were hearty, and the spirit was lively. As the 6th award category was winding down, however, and Facebook was receiving their “Reality” trophy for “the best mind-f***,” there was almost a somber mood, as if the gallows humor had overwhelmed the playful tone of the evening for a bit.

I wondered — when the array of forces pushing toward global climate catastrophe seem gargantuan, the only tool with which to push back is humor? But then a particularly good joke landed, and the next logical thought was “Hah! F*ck’em.”

The complete video of the awards show will be made available online.