Midway through their monologue as hosts of the 2015 Golden Globes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler noted that they were never going to host the show again, and were thus free to do whatever they wanted. This started out as them playing a mock game of Who Would You Rather? about men in the audience – Fey, on wanting to have sex with Richard Linklater, noted it would be “Five minutes, once a year” – but the true freedom that came with knowing they didn't have to worry about being invited back didn't manifest itself for another minute or two.
While running through the plots of some of the nominated films, Poehler said, “In 'Into the Woods, Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from a tower for her prince, and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby,” This led to Fey – who snuck in a few jokes about the allegations against Cosby over the years on both “SNL” and “30 Rock” – doing an unapologetic impression of the Cos (“I put the pills in the people! The people did not want the pills in them!”), followed by Poehler doing her own mash-up of a Jello pudding ad and a rape confession.
On the one hand, Cosby wasn't in the room – and isn't likely to be invited to such an event ever again, unless he can somehow disprove all of the charges against him – and thus made an easier target than any of the nominees. On the other hand, this was perhaps the most important star in the history of the network broadcasting the Globes, and it's such an ugly and raw story that one wouldn't necessarily expect it to be fodder for an awards show monologue. (Based on the stunned reaction shots of Jessica Chastain and other attendees, they weren't expecting it, either.) But the fact that Fey and Poehler were willing to go there – to pick such a delicate topic, and to be simultaneously brutal and silly about it (you could tell how much they were enjoying getting to do their Cosby impressions in this context) – was a remarkable and fitting farewell reminder of how good and fearless these two have been in this gig.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of them in the rest of the ceremony – even less than the year before, when their presence felt marginalized but still left room for post-monologue hijinks like Poehler's appearance as Fey's adult son Randy. Randy didn't make a return appearance, but Fey did slip into a sparkly tuxedo for her ever-brief later appearances, where she and her longtime friend and collaborator still managed to wring laughs in whatever time they had. Her joke introducing a presenter was wonderfully economical: “Our next presenter is known by only one name: Winfrey!”
But the producers apparently didn't learn their lesson from a year ago, when too many winners wound up in the cheap seats, and thus ate up too much time simply getting to the stage. Sure, the odds on “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez beating the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Edie Falco didn't seem that high, even for the new-loving HFPA voters, but it felt like every winner – particularly in the TV categories, which are always a Globes afterthought, despite usually being much more interesting than the Emmy results – was out of breath by the time they completed the long and winding march to the stage. Because of that, and because so many of the speeches ran long – “The Affair” co-creator Sarah Treem was one of the few winners who got played off by the band – there was almost no time for Fey and Poehler in the show's second half, save for brief appearances by Margaret Cho as a fake HFPA voter and North Korean military officer. (Cho's critique of “Orange Is the New Black” was spot-on, by the way.)
These two set a very high bar for awards hosting, and they're probably smart to walk away from the gig before people get sick of them doing it. But if they didn't have a lot to do in their farewell appearance, they made their time count, even if they may be getting angry calls from NBC executives, or Cosby's handlers, or possibly getting their computers hacked by North Korea, as a result of the jokes they told.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org