NBC knew exactly what they were doing when they invited Ricky Gervais back to host the 77th Golden Globes for the fifth time.
Award shows are increasingly impossible to sit through. Once essential appointment-viewing, everything is now so dull and so factory-manufactured, it’s hard to tell one show from the other. It’s also easier when you know that if someone has a juicy meltdown, the highlights will be up on an Instagram account on your feed within minutes anyway.
Possibly the last way to hold onto the award show format as we know it is to get a host who won’t be ignored. Enter Gervais. Again. “This is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I don’t care anymore,” Ricky Gervais warns at the top of his opening monologue, before ripping cantankerously into everything and everyone as is his wont, and has come to be expected of him.
But as he recently said to The Hollywood Reporter, “I try and play the outsider. I’ve got to be the bloke sitting at home who shouldn’t have been invited.”
He channelled his inner Oprah all evening, except that instead of free cars he was handing out smackdowns. The Hollywood Foreign Press got one, Joe Pesci got one, Leonardo DiCaprio got one, as did white privilege, Jeffrey Epstein, “fantasy-adventure nonsense”, Martin Scorsese, James Cordon, Dame Judy Dench, Apple… Most were hilarious, some were low-hanging fruit, others even he couldn’t power all the way through. Regardless, it was the only watchable thing all night.
Audience members took turns laughing nervously, looking exasperated, and generally not wanting to make eye contact with the camera.
Of course people got offended (on Twitter), said he wasn’t funny (on Twitter), and offered to write his resignation for him (on Twitter). During the ceremony, HFPA President Lorenzo Soria exclaimed onstage, “Ricky, you keep saying this is your last year hosting. For God’s sake, please put it in writing!” He was joking, the rest of the internet… not so much.
The day before Globes, Gervais shared an interview in which he was asked if he’s toning down the jokes since it’s been a while since his last time here in 2016. He responded, “It’s a great time for comedy, because they’ve given away their hand. Ten years ago if someone was offended, you’d look into it, you went ‘Oh, what’ve I done?’ Now you go: everyone is offended, who cares?”
Unrelated (?): The Oscars have announced that there will be no host this year either. Meanwhile on another continent, #BaftasSoWhite is already trending.