Hamilton tames the crowd at the Beldings

Because Betsy Hamilton has worked at agencies all over L.A., you might think that dusting off her standup comedy skills at the 40th Annual Belding Awards a week ago would have been easy laughs among friends and colleagues. In truth, the Beldings are a tough room, and Hamilton’s act, amid 53 bowl presentations, is a testament to her bravery—and practically goes to upholding family honor. In recent years, Hamilton’s husband, TBWA\Chiat\Day’s Rob Schwartz, went hoarse hosting raucous Beldings parties at the House of Blues and Hollywood & Highland. This year, at the L.A. County Museum of Art, Hamilton was better at captivating her audience, either because her shtick was good (“This might be your only chance to see a Renoir next to a Chagall next to a WongDoody”) or because booze was off-limits until after the show. (Hamilton termed the night “the new Amish Beldings.”) After Hamilton left NBC for a job at Team One (where “you don’t need eye shadow!”), she worked the standup circuit, playing the Comedy Store, the Ice House and Luna Park before moving on to San Francisco and motherhood. It wasn’t long, though, before she was writing “momvertising” columns and contributing to what she describes as “bitter-mom Web sites.” “I was trying to carve out my voice, between Dr. Spock and Erma Bombeck, with sarcasm,” she says. In the end, she broke out of the bloghetto. Or maybe not: “I’m on MySpace quite a bit,” she quipped at the Beldings. “I’ve been freelancing as a 38-year-old pedophile. Keeps me young.” On her transition from copywriter to consumer: “I used to be you, coming up with the ads. Now I’m me, buying the products. …You got cars? I’m test-driving them. You’re hawking avocadoes? I’m squeezing them at the store. You’re using Paris Hilton and soft porn to sell a hamburger? I’m the one sitting on the sofa watching it with my 10-year-old daughter.” While Hamilton suffered through Schwartz’s pain at the previous Beldings, he was in Toyko for his wife’s turn. There’s a joke in there somewhere.

—Posted by Gregory Solman