Ricky Gervais is officially returning to the Beverly Hilton as host of the 2016 Golden Globes. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's victorious three-year run as Globes emcees was a thrill, but it appears we'll be returning to an era of prickly jokes, devious giggles, and blatant celebrity slams. Though Fey and Poehler were masters at blending class with hilarious insults (like that one about “Gravity” being a movie where George Clooney flees the planet to get away from a woman his own age), Gervais' snickering rancor is often effective. Let's take a look back at his three Golden Globes monologues and see how they've held up.
It's an audience-pleasing round of Steve Carell jokes, small penis jokes, a lengthy mockery of actors' “importance,” a hilarious snipe at Kiefer Sutherland, and a timely joke about being replaced by Jay Leno. It's all successful enough, but it's bizarre to think we once considered this edgy or polarizing. I think part of the reason Gervais' jokes feel notorious is he acts the part of a bad-ass while uttering his most “scandalous” lines. That's not a crime, but Fey and Poehler never had to indicate their naughtiness while joking about actors in the room. Gervais' shtick highlights the ludicrousness of the ceremony while Fey and Poehler kept their sarcasm more specific.
This is Gervais' best showing: He takes direct shots at Charlie Sheen (warranted), Johnny Depp in “The Tourist” (warranted), the Golden Globes for liking “The Tourist” (ultra-warranted), award snubs (clever), and the ending of “LOST” (naturally). The only part that seemed weirdly square was the section about Hugh Hefner's oldness. That could've been material at the 1985 Oscars, save his admittedly funny pantomime at the end of the bit. I think we reflect most fondly on this telecast since the written material was sharp and Gervais was more incendiary than detached.
Hit and miss. Love the section when he reads through the HFPA's demands, as well as the part where he tells the crowd that if they're ever offended, he'll probably be invited back the following year. Clever and just a tad combative, like all of Gervais' funniest moments. Meanwhile every joke about Kim Kardashian is boring and dated (even for 2012) but treated like a comic revelation, and while I appreciate Jodie Foster's reaction to that “Beaver” joke, it's a questionably invasive moment. Fortunately he rebounds with a decent HFPA slam and a good introduction to the perpetually uncomfortable Johnny Depp.
Gervais' resurgence as Globes emcee has promise: I just hope he takes a hint from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler by valuing incisive, hilarious commentary over shrugging contempt.