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Hollywood Can’t Take a Joke

Posted on Jan 17, 2011

Ricky Gervais had everyone laughing as he hosted the Golden Globes on Sunday—everyone except the stars in the room. Gervais’ jokes at the expense of terrible movies did not go over with the people who made them, nor did his quips about scandalized celebs and Scientology.

But the narcissists of Hollywood have never made for a good audience. Remember when Jon Stewart fell flat at the Oscars? It must have been because he’s not funny. What other explanation could there possibly be?

Media reviews of both performances are quite revealing. Half report that the star-studded audiences did not like what they saw, the other half parrot the star-studded audiences. Much of the entertainment press, it seems, considers itself part of the family, eager to defend thin-skinned celebrities from “snotty and abusive” comedians.

Judging by the comedies it mass-produces, the entertainment industry thinks humor begins and ends with people falling down or walking into something. When confronted with actual jokes, as Hollywood’s elite were Sunday night, they recoil in horror.  —PZS


The Los Angeles Times said his jokes set “a corrosive tone” for the night, while TV critic Mary McNamara said: “The opposite of dull and deferential is not snotty and abusive.”

“It would not have been surprising to see a hook emerge suddenly stage left or to learn that the host had taken ‘suddenly ill’,” she added.

The New York Times said the comic was “merciless from the start” while the Hollywood Reporter said it would “undoubtedly be his last hosting gig for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (and, who knows, maybe any Stateside awards)”.

However Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker had nothing but praise for him: “Thanks once again to Ricky Gervais for bringing the sort of funny rudeness and effrontery ... that make an awards show such as the Golden Globes engaging to watch.”

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 24, 2011 at 5:16 am Link to this comment


It is difficult to understand why, if certain people have an artful facility for expressing words that are put in their mouths by others, should earn such hallucinatory salaries.

And yet, this talent has a currency in almost every nation on earth. This is not to deprecate that talent, but to ask the question, Why is it so very remunerative?

But then, neither do I understand the sport of two teams of 11 grown men disputing a football either, or any other round object. And yet, the salaries are typically astronomical.

I figure the guy who repairs my car, even if he rips me off a bit, is creating more real economic value than all the football/soccer players on this planet.

Must be me ...


Nothing’s changed in 2000 years.

One of the richest landlords of Rome reputedly was an ex-gladiator ...

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By Costa Rica, January 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ricky Gervais pushed the limits, and it is about time! These celebrities take them
selves way to seriously, especially when they are making millions of dollars to
make a move that they charge the public $12+ (per person) to see, and most of
the time we walk out of the theater disappointed.

I would love to see them bring Ricky back next year!

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By Marshall, January 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

By question, January 20 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“I admire Downey tremendously.  I don’t understand why laughing at others’ pain
& suffering is considered sophisticated humor.”

I don’t understand why some people admire self-destructive people so much -
especially when they’ve had every privilege given to them and every opportunity to
succeed yet still act like spoiled children.  Is that a roll model to you or something?

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By George M Esparza, January 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What’s the big deal? These sensitive actors and the
useless Foreign Press.  Yes Gervais made a harsh
comment on Downey and these stupid actors were shocked
but what did Downey proceed to afterwards but to joke
about fucking some of the actress.  You can have
Gervais or we could have that boring and dull headed
rep of the Foreign Press.  I’d rather have Gervais.

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By AnnaCatherine, January 22, 2011 at 11:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gervais was hilarious!  Without him or someone like him no one would watch any of the awards ceremonies. For the most part it’s alot of inside stuff. A world we know very little about, despite the tabloids. It’s like a professional convention. We are the outsiders. Gervais brought it together. If the entertainers want the undivided attention of the general public, they have to give us something. Face it, everyone likes to laugh.

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By Artful Dodger, January 22, 2011 at 4:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s terrible to die at the Golden Globe’s. The corpse is only good for closed casket ceremony.

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By TheHandyman, January 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

Ricky Gervais was to the Hollywood Elite as Stephan Colbert was to George Walker Bush and good for them both.

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Peter Knopfler's avatar

By Peter Knopfler, January 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

WHY SHOULD WE BOTHER: Ricky Dicky did a Tricky
fantastic, Hugh comment classic, did you see the stars
stop twinkling Ha They poop on everyone Arnold not the

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By question, January 20, 2011 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with McNamara.  IMO, Gervais is a sad, mean-spirited person (at least).  Never liked him, never will.  I admire Downey tremendously.  I don’t understand why laughing at others’ pain & suffering is considered sophisticated humor.  Joke about the light things?  Okay.  Make fun of yourself like Craig Ferguson?  Better.  To me, this type of humor is sick & lazy.

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By BobZ, January 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment

Hard to feel sorry for the beautiful people. They make tons of money and lead
cushy lives. They should be able to take a joke at their expense once a year. The
media in Hollywood are a bunch of suckups just like the media that covers
Washington D.C. Gervais is a breath of reality in an unreal world.

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JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, January 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

What possible reason could there be to want to watch a bunch of self-important twats bestow honors on another bunch of self-important twats, if there weren’t someone there to make fun of the whole proceedings?  Geez!

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By NABNYC, January 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

I thought he was very funny, and I was surprised at how stuffy was the audience.  It may have started with Tom Hanks making a grandma-level tsk-tsk at Gervais, saying something like “he’s not at all nice.”  I think Tom Hanks and his bff Spielberg were stunned that their Pacific multi-part production for HBO did not run away with the awards, and was beaten out by somebody else.  They consider themselves to be the King and Prince of Hollywood, so it must have been quite a disappointment that the voters didn’t hand them the crown.  Who did they think they were getting, anyway?  Didn’t they watch Gervais’ specials on HBO?  Did they know nothing about his raunchy and inappropriate humor?  Or did they just expect him to tell mild little “jokes” and completely abandon his entire personna and act because it was TV?  They hired him, they knew who he was, they should have been mature enough to laugh along with the rest of us.

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, January 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

One shouldn’t care about the lives of these folks, for they were once like the dregs being flung out of the ‘old world’ and pushed onto the new…

It is the lives of those holding high office, in both commerce and governance, which must be roasted with choice words, as Rick so cleverly clarifies.

I clicked and watched and did laugh out loud… brilliant Ricky!

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By par4, January 19, 2011 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To each his own, I guess. I saw the opening monologue and didn’t laugh once. Few comedians can pull off insult humor, Gervais isn’t one of them.

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By GrainneKathleen, January 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ricky was awesome.  i love that he roasted some of hollywood’s biggest egos and babies.  gervais is hilarious and one of the most talented comedians of his generation.

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By Xenu, January 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m not a big fan of Scientology critics but I thought Gervais was great.

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, January 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

Uhhhh who cares?

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, January 18, 2011 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

I have never watched the Golden Globes and quit watching the Academy Awards in the early 70’s. Why would I waste one nano-second of my time watching what is essentially an inter-office party between colleagues who do nothing but pat themselves on the back? I’m NOT their colleague, I’m a member of the paying audience. What the produce on screen is the “product” not their ego-stroking parties.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, January 18, 2011 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

Making jokes at other people’s expense - such as crass insults just doesn’t make me laugh - what kind of humour is it? It’s not witty - it’s not smart - too often have I witnessed meanness and hositility masquerading as humour.
It’s five years old.
Robert Downey Jr responded wittily - with razor sarcasm - which I appreciated.

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Mike789's avatar

By Mike789, January 18, 2011 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

The non-labor intensive, lily-white handed Holywood denizens, who’s off-camera antics play to box office receipts and effectively have lowered the level of decorum within the viewing audience, seem only able to dish it out and are rather anal retentive in their lack of depth of character in being able to take it when certain unsavory elements blow back in their direction. Get real, all ye adversity challenged glitter addicts. LOL

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sand11's avatar

By sand11, January 18, 2011 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

Robert Downey Jr. was more amusing than Ricky Gervais. Unfortunately, he is too intelligent to host an awards show. I love British humor and Gervais is usually a good example of it. However, at the Golden Globes he seemed unprepared and not in tune with his audience. Nastiness is bottom of the barrel humor.

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By Beats, January 18, 2011 at 2:28 am Link to this comment

to funny.. I’ve been starting to not like ricky as much since he made a bunch of crappy movies but this is great.  if you havn’t already watch his “The Office” and watch “Extras” both amazing

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By deang, January 17, 2011 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sounds like Gervais’s approach was of a kind more accepted in Britain, like that of British pop show host, Simon Amstell, for instance, whose extreme lack of respect for pop stars of all sorts when he was hosting Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks reduced some stars to tears (and not tears of laughter) and caused others to storm off.

I’m also reminded of the Americans’ reaction the first time Russell Brand hosted the VMAs back in ‘08 and included jibes at the Jonas Brothers and GW Bush: the result was so many death threats from Americans that Brand had to hire bodyguards.

Americans are too accustomed to kowtowing to celebrities and employers.

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skimohawk's avatar

By skimohawk, January 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

Golden Globe winners for Best Picture - Drama:
Spartacus - 1960
Rocky - 1976
Amadeus - 1984
The English Patient - 1996

Golden Globe nominees for Best Picture - Drama:
The Flight of the Phoenix - 1965
Last Tango in Paris - 1973
Reds - 1981
The Constant Gardener - 1985

Hollywood awards ceremonies would be far more interesting if they all just got together in a big circle, pulled their pants down, and kissed each other’s asses, which is essentially all it amounts to anyway.
If you’re going to repeatedly fawn over Ralph Fiennes, a man incapable of uttering even one intelligible line during the course of a film, don’t bitch about hiring a smart-ass Brit comic lacking any sense of decorum.

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By ribbie149, January 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

The Golden Globes are so low-rent to begin with that
Gervais’ performance was perfectly in tune.  I remember
back in the 90’s when the Globes were unwatchable
because they were so boring. The powers that be should
realize that their show is the talk of the industry
today because of Gervais.

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By bobi6, January 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who would have watched this show if it weren’t for the brilliant Ricky
Gervais. He’s the funniest person in the U. S. next to Jon Stewart. I
thought the stars was being caustic back. Except for the Hollywood
press guy who was angry I thought the stars were being funny back.
But no I guess they weren’t and that is a shame because they get paid
way too much to behave like and much too much to expect us to
watch an awards show with all their posing and primping. With the
exceptions of Michael Douglas opening talking about his throat cancer
and Claire Danes most wonderful, elegant dress nothing else was
remotely entertaining except Ricky.

Go Ricky. Keep it up. Don’t become like the usual boring but
‘Hollywoodly correct’ comedians who usually host these overdone
awards shows. I used to live in Malibu where the favorite topic is - what
else? - movie stars but now I live in CO and the stars should know
people here do not care. In fact they don’t even screen most of the best
films here. It’s all explosions and violence for the university kids.

I love the movies but also like quality and talent and a modicum of
humility. Hint hint.

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, January 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Ricky Gervais was great! Besides, the only people who take the Golden Globes seriously are narcissistic celebrities. When you nominate “Alice In Wonderland” for Best Picture you already lost quite a large amount of credibility anyway.

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By Designer Red, January 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hollow-wood takes itself too serious. 1) they give themselves awards because it’s
apparently not enough that they make bazillions of dollars, star in movies and get
their picture taken wherever they go 2) they can’t laugh at themselves because
they are so full of themselves. Sad. I think Ricky did great and I didn’t even watch
the show, I just saw clips this morning. DeNiro laughed all through Ricky’s jokes
and Alec Baldwin was reduced to tears he laughed so hard… those two men GOT
IT. GOOD job Ricky!

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, January 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

He is so excellent.  They have enough money that they couldn’t possibly crave ego-stroking on top of it.  A good kick in the behind is what’s in order at times of solemn ‘I love me and I love us’ moments.

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