Early in her second stint as Golden Globes co-host, Tina Fey noted, “This is Hollywood, and if something kinda works, they’ll just keep doing it until everybody hates it.”
Like so many of the jokes Fey and Amy Poehler told last night, it was funny because it was true. But based on the “SNL” alums’ two stints hosting the Golden Globes, they could prove to be that rare exception: a repeat act we’re not going to tire of anytime soon. Because what they do as hosts of these shows – or as scene-stealing presenters (and/or nominees) on other awards shows – isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, but simply an impeccable piece of driving. They do nothing new where the novelty will fade quickly; they just do the basics incredibly well.
Once again, the pals were sharp from beginning, with a winning monologue that, among other things, described “Gravity” as “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.” They again managed to be amusingly dirty – Fey: “And now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.” – without being crude. They introduced another funny new character in Randy (Poehler in a tuxedo and Bieber wig), Fey’s adult son from a previous marriage who went into the audience searching for his dad (how long until some development exec tries to talk them into making “The Tina and Randy Show” into a reality?), and also played well off of the celebrities in the audience (old friend Julia Louis-Dreyfus remains a great and willing foil for them), finding that sweet spot where they could get laughs at the stars’ expense without being mean about it. (The jokes about huge stars Clooney and DiCaprio, for instance, were mainly noting how well each does with beautiful young women.)
The only complaint I have about Fey and Poehler last night is that there wasn’t more of them. They felt more present a year ago, but because the 2014 Globes seemed very poorly-planned, with one winner after another needing an epoch to make it from their seat to the stage (in what is a pretty modestly-sized ballroom), and eating into time that might otherwise be spent on comedy bits – or on winners delivering speeches without the orchestra cutting in almost instantly. We can also blame much of this on the night’s first winner Jacqueline Bisset, whose seat appeared to be at a different hotel based on the length of her walk to the stage, and who then paused and rambled and would not be dissuaded in the slightest by the orchestra, putting the show behind schedule practically before it had started. Ironically, she went on so long that she ate up much of the time I imagine Fey and Poehler would have spent telling jokes about her if the producers weren’t dead-set on ending the show on time.
And the briskness of the Globes has some major advantages. The awards themselves are silly – and I say this even though last night the Hollywood Foreign Press Association became the first notable awards body to honor Poehler for her incredible work on “Parks and Recreation” – and the HFPA is shady at best, but the show itself doesn’t screw around with all of the “Stop and listen as we explain the inherent awesomeness of the movies to you” nonsense that so often makes the Oscars a slog. This was just a run of awards, and speeches, with occasional breaks to show clips of the nominated movies (but not, of course, of the nominated TV shows, because the TV awards are a HFPA afterthought). When you have hosts this assured and funny, when you have some memorable (if at times very liquid) speeches, and when you’re not wasting time on non-essentials, it turns out you can put on a good show, even when it’s as rife with technical errors as this was. (Note, for instance, the attempt to bleep Bisset’s speech, with the sound coming back just as she was saying one of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television.)
It was, as Fey put it in the closing moments, “the beautiful mess we hoped it would be.”
Here’s hoping for more beautiful messes with these two for many years to come.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org