Funny or Floppy?: CT Evaluates Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes Performance

Paul Gleason’s Review

I thought that Gervais’ monologue went over very well.  The joke about Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy comprising the entire cast of The Help was edgy without being spiteful. It was also genuinely funny, as was the joke about Justin Bieber only being able to impregnate a woman with a turkey baster. And I’m glad that Jodie Foster seemed to appreciate Gervais’ Mel Gibson-inspired remark about men not getting a chance to see her beaver. Foster gave him a big thumbs-up! My question: “Was Foster’s response ironic?”

Gervais’ second segment seemed a little more antagonistic – and my general reaction is to say that it didn’t go over as well as the monologue. The joke about only thanking God and one’s agent in an acceptance speech fell flat, in my opinion. And I’m not sure that the repeat joke from the monologue about Bridesmaids and defecating into a sink worked because he transformed it into a way to insult the audience. This was edgy, I guess, but not very interesting. I found this segment off-putting.

The next time Gervais came on stage, he made a joke about this year’s audience being “better” than last year’s, which felt mean-spirited. But the introduction of George Clooney was terrific and good-natured. Maybe this is the whole point of Gervais – keeping the audience on edge. The insults make the bits that do work seem better.

I enjoyed the introduction of Madonna as the “Queen of Pop” and the accompanying quip about how Elton John wasn’t worthy of that title. The reference to “Like a Virgin” worked well because Madonna’s come-back remark – in which she asked Gervais what he was prepared to do about her supposed virginal state, in addition to her comment that she hadn’t kissed a girl in a couple years and Gervais himself might qualify as a candidate for that kiss – was pretty great. Did Gervais himself streak behind Madonna on stage?

The Selma Hayek and Antonio Banderas insult was bleeped, so I didn’t get it. To quote Elvis Costello, I must be “tragically un-hip.”  But, just like Madonna’s response in the previous segment, Banderas’ come back was witty. It seemed that Gervais and the presenters worked together a bit and played off each other. Was their banter improvised?

Throughout the show, Gervais had a new cocktail in hand each time he appeared on stage. I didn’t understand the comedic purpose of this.  Was his drinking a slight at the audience’s drinking? Later, Ricky made a joke about being able to get progressively drunk while on the job—it made me understand the cocktails, at least.

Even though it was easy and clichéd, the Colin Firth joke about his racism and punching a blind child worked. I also enjoyed Meryl Streep’s comment that the makers of The Iron Lady originally asked Gervais to play Margaret Thatcher. The presenters and award recipients truly led to the entertainment value of Gervais’ performance. The whole ceremony had the feel of one big joke.

I didn’t find the Natalie Portman introduction joke – about her taking a year off to have a baby – very funny. This joke seemed simply insulting.  Perhaps that’s why Portman didn’t respond with a joke of her own.  Maybe she has too much class.

Gervais’ concluding remarks were short and unremarkable, but that could be because the show had to finish at its ending time.

Overall, Gervais’ performance was better than I expected it to be. But it wasn’t remarkable or memorable. In fact, in a year’s time, I probably won’t even remember that I wrote my part of this review.

Mike Mierendorf’s Review

As the show opened, I thought, “Sweet looking suit, Ricky!” A rather cold and awkward applause started things, but Ricky responded, “Nervous, don’t be. This isn’t about you.” Well done, sir.

Humorously, Ricky read a list of rules the Hollywood Foreign Press (HFP) had given him, including no profanity – “I’ve got a huge vocabulary”– no nudity, no smut or innuendo, and “I mustn’t mention Mel Gibson this year…or especially not Jodie Foster’s ‘Beaver.’”  Hollywood Foreign Press, you continue to be owned. Well done on Ricky. At this point of the show, Gervais targeted his jokes at the same press that criticized him a year ago and then begged him to return.

Overall, Ricky’s jokes were humorous, but relatively nice (for Ricky). The plug via Johnny Depp for Ricky’s new show, Life’s Too Short, was shamelessly wonderful, after which it appeared as though Johnny drank Ricky’s beer—I can’t tell if these gents love or hate each other. After four award presentations (and having not seen him for awhile), Gervais returned to the stage saying, “You don’t need to thank everyone… Just do the main two. Your agent and God.” Later on, he told the star audience that they’d done worse than defecating in a sink to make themselves famous, but even so, his jokes didn’t seem that harsh.

After another long disappearance, Ricky came back, with a beer, still rocking that suit, talking about George Clooney. He made some sarcastic jokes, but with total respect for George. Throughout the evening, Ricky kept reappearing on stage with a new drink in hand. I guess if he couldn’t be on stage, he might as well stick it to the HFP by drinking straight in front of them.

He introduced Madonna by saying she’s “barely Like a Virgin,” and she came on with a super lame comeback. After he’d been so timid and relaxed, she came off as being the mean one of the night. Later in the show, Ricky teased “the evil” Colin Firth (turns out he’s very racist and he once punched a blind kid). Ricky also had some fun with Natalie Portman, and she looked ok with it; she didn’t make some cheap or lame comeback. That’s how you’re supposed to handle it—well done, Natalie.

It surprised me how little stage time Ricky had. So many award presentations took place with no intro from Ricky. He appeared eight times throughout the show. EIGHT TIMES. Can you even consider that hosting?  The GG’s were really scared of Ricky this year. It seemed they were playing it safe—if Ricky wasn’t on stage, he couldn’t offend anyone. But I can’t help but think, “Jeez, Hollywood, your egos sure are fragile aren’t they?” Seriously, what’s the point of a host if he isn’t around? What a damn waste. With Ricky being pretty much a no show, I was bored. And when Ricky was on stage, he was so tame and kind to Hollywood that I am actually disappointed. Why have Ricky Gervais host if you’re going to keep him off the stage the whole show? Obviously, Ricky has some say about what his jokes are, but he really seemed to play ball tonight and follow the queues of the HFP. I’m glad I recorded the show and fast forwarded through most of it. I tuned in for a bit of classic Ricky moments and walked away feeling pretty empty handed.

To see all 11 minutes of Ricky’s performance (out of over 3 hours and 30 minutes of Golden Globes) click here.

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  1. I believe the bleeped Antonio/Salma bit read, "It didn't matter because I couldn't understand a fucking word either of them said…"

  2. I think he did just about as well as could be expected after last year's shindig. The Colin Firth jab was hilarious. However, I just don't think his humor sits well with everyone. He makes a lot of people very uncomfortable, which I love, so getting this watered down was sad to see.

  3. Pingback: The 2012 Golden Globes: The Taming of Ricky Gervais | Free Apps

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