It beats ditch-digging or working as a barista, but hosting the Academy Awards is a job that comes with its own set of challenges. To appease the masses at home, you’re required to take the piss out of the assembled delegation of movie stars in the audience. But you also have to show proper reverence for the night and that audience, lest you come off like some kind of outsider jerk. All this while trying to shepherd all sides through an overlong broadcast whose most worthwhile moments usually come at the very start and the very end. It’s a tightrope, which is why even the best hosts wake up on Monday morning to mixed reviews.
Last night, Chris Rock came out swinging as he took the stage for his second stint as Academy Awards host. He led off with a 10-minute comedic attack on the lack of diversity in Hollywood and never let up. For better or worse. He was dynamic yet divisive, and it was classic Rock, so it’ll be a tough act to follow in 2017. That said, here are a few first-time candidates who might be a good fit if the Academy is willing to think outside the box.
Key & Peele
The super-team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele will be jumping from the small screen to the big screen with the 2016 release of Keanu. By the end of the year, they’ll probably be movie stars and more than ready for their first shot at hosting the Oscars and, perhaps, injecting more comedy sketches into a show that could afford to let its hair down a little. Besides, their frequent over-enthusiastic valet sketches prove that they know how to make fun of the movies without actually being mean to the celebrities they’ll be performing in front of. And, like Rock, they know how to tackle weightier topics effectively. Another plus: Keanu the kitten almost has to make an appearance.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
Amy Schumer took over the comedy world in 2015, and now it’s Jacobson and Glazer’s turn. The Broad City co-creators have an energy unlike anything that’s been on the Academy Award’s stage. They have a background in improvisation, and they exist far enough outside of the movie-star sphere that they’ll be able to get away with things other hosts can’t. With the right production team, they could be the next Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, only slightly more dangerous.
Ferguson is one of the few talk-show hosts in recent memory who’s never taken on one of the major awards shows. That’s a shame, because while he was hosting The Late Late Show, it was one of the loosest, most goofy hours of TV you could find. He seemed to have an almost instant rapport with all of his guests, his bits always felt organic rather than geared toward generating viral hits the next morning, and most importantly, he always seemed like he was having fun. And that’s infectious. With Ferguson as host, the Academy Awards could actually overtake the Golden Globes as awards season’s biggest party. Especially if he brings the horse.
Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
Two of Saturday Night Live’s most high-profile stars are set to become movie stars this year, as well, thanks to the Ghostbusters reboot. Awards shows with dual hosts often thrive on contrast, and the mix of McKinnon’s chameleonic brilliance and Jones’ blow-up-the-room energy could do the trick. Like Key and Peele, this duo’s best asset may be their ability to inject sketch comedy into the Academy Awards, which McKinnon recently did to great effect when she co-hosted the Independent Spirit Awards.
Wanna keep your Academy Awards broadcast safe, family-friendly, and jovial while also thinking a little outside the box? Hire the “Nicest Guy in Hollywood.” Over the past three decades, through talk-show appearances and eight times hosting Saturday Night Live, Hanks has proven himself gracious, engaging, and a quick wit.
He can do everything from the most subtle monologue joke to a broadly silly sketch and sell it all, and it’s hard to imagine there are too many people sitting in the Academy Awards audience who don’t love him. Academy Awards producers aren’t in the habit of hiring past winners to host, but Hanks has such a deft hand at comedy that it could be a perfect fit.
Also, he knows how to throw a party.
Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner
As the pop culture-obsessed stars of Difficult People, Klausner and Eichner have shown that they can relentlessly mock celebrity culture while also mocking themselves, something that lets you get away with a lot on the Academy Awards stage. They’re both seasoned performers, and while they don’t necessarily have any awards show experience, their time with Billy on the Street (Eichner as star, Klausner as writer) has prepared them to do some really out-of-the-box stuff that could make the marathon of the Academy Awards feel more like a sprint.
We already knew Crews was funny thanks to his work in Idiocracy, but his three seasons on Brooklyn Nine-Nine has allowed the former pro football player to subvert his tough guy appearance. Crews isn’t a choice that a lot of people might think of, but a little boldness could be a good thing and besides that, the Academy loves hosts who can sing and dance, and there’s no question that Terry Crews tries to do one while crushing the other.
Strike up the petitions and the hashtags!