And The Award for Not Thinking It’s Funny Goes Too…

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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38 Responses

  1. fillyjonk says:

    What do I think? What I think is, if awards shows went away forever, it would not affect me one bit. I don’t consume the vast majority of the media that they address – most of the movies at the Oscars are ones I’ve not seen, I don’t buy new music, most of the TV shows awarded now are on some premium or streaming service. And I don’t have any desire to watch the red carpet; it’s not a fantasy I enjoy (being talented and important enough to be invited there, and slim and pretty and young enough to look good in some designer dress). It all feels very….I don’t know, “bonfire of the vanities” is not quite the right phrase, but more and more I am “meh” about the bubble that Hollywood or Broadway or whatever exists in. I remember some years back hearing about the multi-thousand-dollar “swag bags” celebrities got, where companies hoped they’d promote their product, and I had a very gross “the rich get richer, don’t they” feeling about the whole thing.

    I will say it makes me roll my eyes that people are upset because Gervais chose to gore their own particular favored ox, while they have maybe made a career out of insulting or at least willfully misunderstanding people who are different from them in some way. Kind of like how the popular girls at school squealed when someone made low-level fun of them after they’d built their popularity on slamming us “nerds and poor kids”

    I suppose for some people it’s harmless fun, watching the glitterati get rewards and try not to swallow their own feet when speaking, but it all seems a bit too precious to me.

    I suppose there’s also the outside chance Gervais did this because he wanted never to be asked to do this again, though I suspect a simple “no, I have another commitment for that night” would suffice.Report

  2. Gervais was funny. They just didn’t like that he was funny at their expense. They’ve forgotten that humor is supposed to be, you know, FUNNY, not just political commentary with cheerlines instead of punchlines.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    I agree with Michael, Gervais was funny, and on point, and clearly all out of fucks to give. Honestly, for every person in that audience who was offended by one of his jokes, they really need to take a hard look at themselves and evaluate their choices as of late, or perhaps take a hard look at who their friends are.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Comedy should punch up.

    Wait, that was last week’s card.

    Um… shouldn’t we only be mocking people who are trying to hurt others people instead of trying to help other people?Report

  5. Jaybird says:


    (Tim Cook, if you don’t know, is the CEO of Apple. Apple, if you didn’t know, uses sweatshop labor to make its phones. Ricky Gervais, if you didn’t know, made a joke about the celebrities signing up for shows on Apple TV and how, if ISIS put out ISIS TV, they’d call their agents.)Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    I watched most of it, going in and out of paying attention. Some things he said were funny. Some were kind of weak. Nothing seemed to cross any obvious or even subtle line. He didn’t seem to garner big laughs from the crowd. What does that mean? I’m reminded of a debate that Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David supposedly had in perpetuity, namely what it means if the audience doesn’t laugh. I can’t remember who was on which side, but basically they argued whether that meant the joke was indeed not funny because the point is to make the audience laugh or whether it indicated a flaw in the audience. So, on some level, maybe Gervais failed to read his audience. Then again, the people watching at home are also part of the audience — and perhaps the more important part.

    Fussing over his performance seems much ado about nothing.Report

  7. DensityDuck says:

    That people found it political is because of the insistence that everything is political. It wouldn’t have mattered if he’d stood up there and gave a straight “movies, movies are a wonderful thing, they give us hope, they bring us together, they give our dreams life, and now here’s Bob Angleton with the award for Most Gratuitous Use Of The Word ‘Belgium’ In A Serious Screenplay”, people would still have called it Horribly Political — because, after all, he didn’t talk about the thing and that’s a political statement because he had the option of not talking about the thing, right?

    As for the jokes? Pretty tame! About what you’d expect (and want) for a gig like this. Some current-events riffs, a dash of salaciousness, a gentle jab at the audience’s sacred cows, wrap it up with a “but hey, ain’t we all” and then move on to the awards.Report

  8. Oscar Gordon says:

    So I saw this today:

    And just wow! Wearing the same formal wear for a whole season of award ceremonies, etc. is being a climate hero.

    Gervais wasn’t savage enough.Report

    • greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Yeah this has been getting rightly skewered. It also seems to be all self promotion since it’s designer talking about how cool phoenix is for wearing her clothes.

      I dont’ know what Gervais said since i don’t care. But how savage can anyone actually be when they are the host of an awards show. When did people start caring about the golden globes and why?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        “When did people start caring about this multi-million dollar event that celebrates a multi-billion dollar industry that creates products consumed by literally everyone I know?”

        Apparently, the Golden Globes started in 1944. The world was plunged into War. This is before D-Day and so France is occupied. Everyone is terrified and no one knows what is going to happen. “Hey! Let’s give out trophies for movies!”

        And so it was a way to look Death in the face and laugh and keep morale high enough to help us go on to defeat the Nazis.

        That’s when people started caring about the Golden Globes, Greg.

        In WWII.Report

        • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

          Wow you really know a lot about award shows. To each his own. It is the committed culture warriors who keep their eyes fixed on all they hate. How else do they know what to incessantly freaked about.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            I know you said that you don’t know what he said but you can scroll up to the top of the page and watch a (short!) youtube that has his comments in it.

            It might help clarify that the people “freaking out” are the people who are opposed to what he said and not the people who are laughing at what he said.Report

            • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

              So i watched it. Baby yoda…that got a smirk. Now i know why people dont’ think he’s funny. Wow…snoozville and that goes along with his criticisms of the crowd were spot on. So what, people have said worse and nothing was all that controversial. Ginned up controversy over nothing.

              Pro tip: When people keep telling you they don’t care they are not telling the truth. They are posturing about how edgy they are and framing a routine. But they very much care or they wouldn’t bother telling you how much they dont’ care.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                (Scrolls up to Greg’s first comment to Oscar)

                I know, Greg. I know.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Huh? I still dont’ know why people care about the GG’s. Especially if you hate the hollywood elite why care about a party they throw for themselves. If it’s not your thing, don’t watch. And again, it didn’t seem to be all that savage after watching it. Roasts are long entertainment tradition. He lightly braised a few people and poked some sensitive nerves.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to greginak says:

                This wasn’t supposed to be a roast though, and you can tell as no one was in on it. No one was expecting to be held to any kind of standard over Weinstein. Or Epstein. And so on. It didn’t matter that those jokes were second rate, they shouldn’t have been made at all. Not to those people, they are special.

                The stars here expected to be feted, as has long been the tradition of these things. Have one of the gang up front, maybe poke a little gentle fun at everyone, but knowing it is all in good taste, as the host is one of them.

                As far as anyone caring, it isn’t about that. It is about the “stars” feeling self-important. And while Gervais wasn’t super funny (my taste in comedy runs a little different, so what do I know) but that wasn’t the point of his performance. The point was The Emporers Have No Clothes. And all the preening simply reinforced that.Report

              • greginak in reply to Aaron David says:

                Who said the stars had any clothes in the first place. Famous people always seem to feel self important. Mock or tease them all you want. Is this the first time they have been mocked. No and won’t be the last. If people feel good about the stars getting their comeuppance they probably cared to much about what they thought in the first place.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to greginak says:

                “Who said the stars had any clothes in the first place.”

                Stella McCarthy?Report

        • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah, after the first Golden Globes I’m sure a bunch of people complained about how Hollywood celebrities like Jimmy Stewart flew in all the way from London, and then back, just to accept the silly award. At a time when fuel under strict wartime rationing, he wasted over 10,000 gallons of aviation gasoline and had his B-17 out of service for a whole week. Oh wait. That never happened. ^_^Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Where’s my award for sometimes wearing a sweater I’ve kept since 1983? And the fact that I have some skirts and dresses that are almost old enough to buy alcohol?

      When it’s rich folks, it’s cool. When it’s the rest of us, they just say we have no fashion sense.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    Ana Marie Cox has a thread worth reading criticizing Gervais:

    Her main criticism is that what she’s seeing is “not all that different, it must be admitted, from the “clapter” elicited from liberal audiences by late-night hosts going after Trump.”

    This is a good criticism!

    That said, Ricky Gervais himself has a pretty good rhetorical question:

    Personally, I think that there are a lot of weird dynamics going on and they’re best described as Elitist vs. Populist rather than Left vs. Right. And the left, for whatever reason, tends to be identified with the “elite”. And the right, for whatever reason, ain’t.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      Where she gets it wrong is that the liberal hosts going after Trump and the GOP for their liberal audiences is a safe play.

      Gervais actually puts his career in danger by going after the elite at the show (Hollywood sure does like their blacklists and whisper campaigns, there is a reason Weinstein and Cosby and others were able to operate for as long as they did).

      Sure, chances are pretty good he’ll come away relatively unscathed, but maybe not.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

      Elite vs populist is probably a better read, since as far as I’ve heard Gervais was backing Jeremy Corbyn.

      We’re probably seeing yet another effect of the cultural capture where the avant-garde has been just “garde” for several decades now. Many think they’re still rebelling against “the man” when they’ve been “the man” since before half their audience was even born. So they think they’re punching up when they’re punching down. They’ve grown so used to not being mocked in their lofty social circles that attacks like Gervais are almost as unthinkable as someone on Downton Abbey publicly criticizing the peerage.

      Well, there’s certainly a lot to mock about celebrities who shuttle around in private jets lecturing the rest of us to cut back our carbon consumption, and the opportunity can only be passed up for so long.

      Interestingly, the comedian with the biggest weekly audience isn’t anyone you would guess. It’s Greg Gutfeld on Fox News, going after a target rich environment. Apparently there’s a huge comedy scene flying under the radar, with lots of right-wing comedy clubs even in LA that are drawing huge audiences. Some of that is certainly the usual political lines, but I bet a lot of it is populist vs elites. Even hard core progressives are bound to think Leonardo DiCaprio’s yacht rentals aren’t quite in tune with saving the planet, and all those celebrity Netflix deals are bound to rankle those who gave up auditioning and kept waiting tables.Report

  10. Marchmaine says:

    I watched the clip, and it had its moments… and I can see it as a good Stand-up riff.

    I do, however, think its a pretty bad Golden Globes Host opening. Not for *me* mind you… not only was I not invited, I didn’t even care enough to watch. But Gervais qua Host is pretty dreadful and I’d take him at his word that he won’t be invited back.

    I’ve said before that good satire loves the subject; Gervais pretty clearly has contempt for his Hollywood peers… so while I can laugh at their discomfort (its not mine, after all)… its more dickish than funny. Certainly, its not satire that will make any of the subjects rethink their foibles.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

      From what I understand, this is the final year in his Golden Globes hosting contract. I imagine that there are a handful of ways he could have played it to get an extension for the contract and do the job next year if they happened to be unable to find “the right fit”, but that’s a pretty moot counterfactual now, ain’t it?Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

        Eh… I don’t blame him for maybe not wanting to hose another dang Golden Globes. I also think Gervais is a sanctimonious prick; so his routine didn’t impress me as funny so much as otherwise directed Sanctimony.

        Gervais isn’t one of us getting back at them, he’s one of them calling them out for insufficient ardor to the cause.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird says:

        It’s pretty obvious from the clips he’s not interested in returning.

        Maybe he realized it’s a bunch of self-congratulatory nonsense of interest only to those attending and the local wine moms.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Marchmaine says:

      I watched it. I found it not funny, but not Not Funny, if that makes sense. Then again, I am extremely “meh” about 95% of stand-up comedy; it’s only the ones that truly border on dadaist absurdity (like vintage Emo Phillips) that I find amusing.

      I wonder though what Dame Judi Dench thought of his literal crotch-shot joke. I don’t know her, maybe she laughed at it, but to me, it reads as pretty mean-spirited. But then, I’ve been the butt of mean-spirited humor enough in my life that I’m hypersensitive to things that “read” as it.

      But definitely, he was someone up there giving no fish and making no bones about the fact that he wasn’t coming back, so hey, here’s a match and some gasoline, here are some bridges, let’s have a go and see if we can get anything to catch fire…Report

  11. It would have been much funnier if Gervais had stopped telling us how brave he was. I mean, Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself? So transgressive.Report

  12. Chip Daniels says:

    I didn’t see the awards and probably wouldn’t get most of the jokes anyway, but the art of roasting Hollywood is almost as old as Hollywood itself.

    Day Of The Locust Was published in 1939, All About Eve from 1950, and too many others to list all skewered Hollywood as a nest of vipers and backbiting jackals.

    In this Gervais himself is a quintessential Hollywood type.Report