The Golden Globes Awards in January of this year were greeted by press headlines about how the host, Ricky Gervais, had torn into the celebrities. He always does, so why the headlines? Or rather he always did, because he made the point several times in his opening speech that this was the last time.
Unless there’s a very good reason of topicality I tend not to be led by headlines, preferring to allow the dust to settle before I comment. Seven months is enough.
Up to 7:50 is Gervais’ opening speech, and the rest is a series of chained-together snippets from between awards.
The “Roast” is a very American custom, with usually a single guest/target. I have watched very many, but seldom, (if ever) covered them in the blog. They are usually very good, very funny, but so steeped in in-jokes that there’s nothing for me to say. This is different. Gervais is roasting a large room full of over-paid performing fleas, and holding little back. Any viewer who watches movies understands the jokes, as does anyone who is abreast of the news.
Consider his available ammunition: the reputation that Hollywood – indeed California – has for being absurdly over-woke and addicted to virtue signalling, the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, the private-jetting around the world to preach about the environment, the list is endless. Gervais overlooks nothing.
‘Cancel culture’ has too many tiptoeing around the truth. The problem with tiptoeing is that you are easily knocked over. Gervais has big boots on, is unapologetic, and doesn’t care – even says so repeatedly.
He also understands something else that is particularly crucial. Actors as a general rule are not very bright. There are a few honourable exceptions, but they tend to be the ones that restrict their activities to the arts pages and keep their own counsel over other matters. They allow their professional performances to do their speaking for them. They tend to rise above, and stay away from, gatherings like this. Actors tend also to be desperately insecure, needing to be oft seen and photographed lest they be forgotten. So they clamour to be allowed to come here and be insulted.
Gervais is pretty skilled and holds his audience where he wants it, but he’s not infallible. I advise my trainees never to pause on a punchline, and he almost never does. Watch at 4:20, where he has a little routine ending at 4:27. He pauses at the end of it, and dies just a little. Compare that to 7:10 –
Most of you spent less time at school than Greta Thunberg
He piles straight on, and is rewarded with a nice little laugh which he ignores and goes for the big one which is bleeped, but we already know what’s coming. So does the audience which goes wild.
Are we sure that was really the last time? How much are they going to offer him to insult them again?