LOS ANGELES — When accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at Wednesday's VH1 Big in 2002 Awards, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels said the most important purpose of Run-DMC was to make people smile.
"So the best way to honor Jam Master Jay," the visibly moved rapper told the capacity crowd at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, "is to just keep smiling, man."
And the smiles came easy at the inaugural awards ceremony, a show that takes itself even less seriously than MTV's Movie Awards. Airing December 15, the ceremony is a broader celebration of pop culture than the Music First network's previous My VH1 Awards (see "Dave Matthews Band Bathes In Fan Flattery At My VH1 Music Awards" ), even honoring "Fear Factor" for the best hurl (as in, vomit) on TV.
Ice Cube said it best when accepting the evening's first honor, an award called Shakespeare in Da Hiz-zouse: "Who needs an Oscar when you have this motherf---er!"
The "Barbershop" star, who beat out Eminem, Ja Rule, Eve and LL Cool J for the award, which honored best rapper in a movie, proceeded to stare at the trophy in bewilderment. "What the hell is this thing?"
Cube later said backstage he believed it to be a rocket, but Vanessa Carlton later called the obnoxious gold block a submarine. Does it really matter?
Carlton took home one of the evening's best music prizes (depending on who you ask), beating out Avril Lavigne, Nelly and others for the Can't Get You Out of My Head award for her single "A Thousand Miles."
"I don't want to stalk you with my song," Carlton said in her acceptance speech. "But I'm glad you liked it."
Carlton returned to the stage with a woman who appeared to be her sister but was actually Lisa Marie Presley to present the final award for Hit Me Baby One More Time. The award, which honored albums containing multiple hit songs, went to Creed for Weathered.
Other music winners included Norah Jones for the Lolita Ford award, which honored the best female rock star; Paul McCartney for Rockin' and Rulin', which recognized the best veteran rock star; and Ozzy Osbourne and family for You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?, given to the best f-bomb-dropping rock stars.
Sharon Osbourne was on hand to accept that trophy and another for Strange But True, which honored best reality show, though her speech went awry when she discovered she used the piece of paper it was written on to dispose of her gum.
While acceptances by Eddie Griffin (I Believe I Can Spy for his spy role in "Undercover Brother") and Vin Diesel (You Can't Spell Bald Without Bad for basically being a bald badass) brought laughs, it was the show's vignettes that really begot the knee slapping.
The show opened with a mock Dr. Phil confusing his "talk show guests" — and the Big in 2002 Awards hosts — Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo with their characters on "The Sopranos," Christopher and Adriana.
Other skits included commercials for a Snoop Dogg restaurant called "Shizzizzlers" and a drunk-driving video game called "Grand Theft Nolte." The funniest bit of the evening, though, was comedian Wayne Brady's medley of "covers," which included the Michael Jackson jab "Dangle My Son," a play off Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun."
While Brady went straight for laughs, other performers were more emotional. Christina Aguilera, dressed in a black suit and top hat, crooned the touching "Beautiful" with orchestral accompaniment.
Norah Jones played piano and gently sang her breakthrough hit "Don't Know Why," which ended with John Mayer strolling onstage playing guitar and seamlessly flowing into his "Your Body Is a Wonderland."
Bon Jovi rocked the house with a medley of "It's My Life," their latest single "Everyday" and the classic "Livin' on a Prayer," though it was the legends of another genre that truly stirred the crowd.
Before Ice Cube honored Run-DMC with the Lifetime Achievement award, Kid Rock, Chuck D and Grandmaster Flash paid homage to the group and the late Jam Master Jay with an ambitious medley that included "Sucker M.C.s," "My Adidas," "You Be Illin'," "It's Like That" and more.
"I look at [Jay] as one of my disciples," Flash said before the performance, explaining why he got involved in the tribute. "I'm saddened, but then at the same time, I have to keep a happy frame of mind, because I'm going to do the same thing I would do with Jay in front of an audience, and that's rock."
Run-DMC were perfectly emulated in the tribute, with Rock tackling Run's intense lyrics, Chuck D bellowing DMC's deep rhymes and Flash spinning vinyl with reckless abandon.
"It was the most awesome thing," DMC said backstage just after the show. "Me and Run were like, 'Yo, is that what Run-DMC does?' 'Cause we never got to see Run-DMC in our lifetime. It was tight. I like the song selection, too, 'Beats to the Rhyme' and 'Hear We Go.' Oh man, it was ridiculous.
"Me and Run was like, 'We're gonna cry now,' " he continued. "All night we sittin' here, 'This is cool.' Then they started runnin' the film with Jay and we were over."
After the tribute, as Ice Cube was presenting the award, producers stopped the show and said they wanted to re-shoot the performance. When the curtain re-opened minutes later, Kid Rock told the crowd, "They wanted us to do it with a DAT tape to match the music with the explosions, but f--- that. We did it how Run-DMC did every show and that's live with turntables." The performance was not re-shot.
Other winners included "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" star Lucy Liu for Do I Look Fat in This Fight, which honored female fighters; "Austin Powers in Goldmember" for Play It Again Sam, an award for best sequel; and "Punch-Drunk Love" 's Adam Sandler and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" 's Nia Vardalos in a tie for Your Attention Please, given for scene-stealing performances.