There has been a lot of hoop-la about Ricky Gervais’s hosting of the Golden Globe awards. Personally I think they got what they asked for. Anyone who was shocked by Gervais is living in a fantasy land. Like him or not, he was consistent with who he is and his style of performance. Just like Chris Rock hosting the Academy Awards in 2005 or Russell Brand when he hosted the MTV awards in 2008 you get the style of humour the comedian does focused on the obvious material - the event and the people nominated. Thinking otherwise is just naive and lets be honest these type of jokes are not new. Talk show hosts, like Letterman, Leno, Carson, etc, have been doing the pot shot punchlines in their opening monologues for years.
Being curious to see if he offended to the heights I had been hearing about I watched a youtube clip of all of his intros. I’ll put it here for you to watch. It would be useful to see before reading the rest of the blog.
What did you think? Does it have the earth shattering impact you’d expect?
After the opening 10 min intro I found all the other segments quite boring. Why? Well, we didn’t hear or see anyones response to the line. No matter how good the pot shot punchline is without a response or reaction the line falls flat. These type of jokes rely on the reaction. At home we want the camera to swing to the star, we want to see the shocked faces, the I’m having a laugh at myself, the you bastard I’ll get you later. These pot shot punchlines are devised to potentially change someone and that is what is the most fascinating part for us home viewers. We may see a different side to the well manicured Botox enhanced designer crafted image. We may get a glimpse of the person!
This is why I believe it is such an issue. On a night that buys into all that is Hollywood. A night about image, perfection, achievement, success and building status in front of their peers. To have pot shots taken that might shake loose the facade and show a glimpse of the real person is scary. A line is delivered about you and everyone in the audience, including the cameras, will snap to you waiting for your response. You might be changed, you might not have control of that moment because you don’t know what might be said, you might reveal something.
People don’t want to be changed. We fight to keep the mask. Yet the audience at home is waiting for that moment.
Like an audience at an impro show.
The improvisers don’t want to be changed because they might reveal. The audience waits and watches for that wonderful moment of change. Sometimes we just give them the endless punch lines with no response or effect. We rob them or the real joy and what they really want.
Here are a few of the response moments I found interesting.
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