Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes: what did they expect?

Poor wee lambs – they’re all shocked, shocked, shocked to find that the cuddly Brit could be so naaaassssty. And not take their great big awards show seriously by making respectful little jokes that they’d all pretend to laugh prettily at for the cameras.

Christian Bale at the Golden Globes, wide-eyed and crumple-mouthed, juxtaposed with a shot of Kermit the Frog, wide-eyed and crumple-mouthed
Image Credit: The Daily What: Christian Bale is Kermit – we knew it all along

Say what? Gervais got famous by making people uncomfortable at why they are laughing at his material, by deliberately crossing boundaries of “good taste”, and he also has a mean streak. This is not A Great Big Showbiz Secret.

I’m ambivalent about the opening monologue myself (haven’t seen the rest of it yet). It was funny stuff, in the traditional brutal comedy roast style, but I’m not generally a fan of cruel comedy just for the sake of it. Given how he was subverting the bland self-congratulatory style of recent years though, I’m not sure that a bit of meanness wasn’t long overdue, and I liked the fact that he was almost daring anybody he was mocking for a bad film to point out how he too had made a pretty lousy flick himself with The ArtInvention Of Lying, and did they want to have a go? I also liked seeing people like Depp, De Niro and some others just wryly appreciating it without feeling the need to pretend to be shocked for the cameras. Hugh Hefner took that extraordinary mockery in good grace on his twitter account even, showing the young ones how a really savvy PR operator goes with the flow.

Gervais hasn’t burnt all that many bridges actually, despite the inevitable outrage confections about to be published all over the place. He’s just given himself a springboard for what will no-doubt be a sellout national stand-up tour in both the US and the UK, and if you think Hollywood won’t offer him another big movie after that then you’re not nearly cynical enough about how they do their sums.

But will it be funny? If they’re actually brave enough to not just shove him into a stale formula such as he mocked throughout Extras, it could well be brilliantly nasty. Because that’s what he does best.

Categories: arts & entertainment, media

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12 replies

  1. Quick point: Gervais’ film was called The Invention of Lying.

  2. Apparently he closed off with “Thank God for making me an Atheist” so that might be what gets him into the most trouble. Heh.

    • Amanda: Apparently he closed off with “Thank God for making me an Atheist” so that might be what gets him into the most trouble. Heh.

      Did you notice that NBC actually bleeped it when he said “for christ’s sake” at one point?

      Beppie: I didn’t always like the way he chose to subvert it (fat jokes, misogynist humour, etc)

      That part is lazy and predictable, isn’t it? I prefer it when he’s doing genuinely unexpected stuff.

  3. Heh… as my partner pointed out, that was a lot less faily than much of his work.
    For me… well, I agree with you, tigtog, that the subversion of all the bland self-congratulatory stuff was good, but at the same time, I didn’t always like the way he chose to subvert it (fat jokes, misogynist humour, etc). Still, it’s hardly worse than the general standard of kyriarchal comedy.

  4. I didn’t watch it but I read they bleeped “Jesus Christ” out of Paul Giamatti’s speech numerous times.

  5. Wow – totally curious now to see some of his ‘show’ at the awards night… must away to Google it.

  6. OK, I loved Gervais in that intro for the Golden Globes. But then I quite like mean humour, as long as it is at the right targets.

    • (Just left this comment over on another thread by accident, transferring it over here)
      I bet Gervais has been awfully frustrated by studio execs in Hollywood telling him how he has to be ‘more likeable’ in order to have mass market appeal, because that’s what I saw in the trailers for both The Invention of Lying and Ghost Town, and that’s why I didn’t want to go and see either of them. They wanted to push him off into the ‘loveable rogue’ niche, and Gervais is not a loveable rogue at all; he’s one of the very few performers out there who is willing to make himself truly unlikeable and – when he’s at the top of his form – make you laugh at him anyway and, amazingly, make you root for his unlikeable character exposing the nasty underbelly of the system as well.
      He’s just shown them on national TV exactly how they should be casting him in movie roles that will actually get bums on seats and make money for everybody. Whether they learn the lesson – we’ll see.

  7. See, I think that’s why I found the whole thing kinda hysterical — not because it was particularly funny, but because everyone was so *shocked* that he was pointing out so much of the hypocrisy — the ‘we’re all fine with teh gayz’ vs in-the-closet-Scientologists; the ‘we’re all for world peace’ vs Mel Gibson being a racist douche; the ‘we’re all so naturally beautiful’ vs the utter constructedness of that beauty; the ‘we’re all so *nice*’ vs the catty-ness; the ‘we’re spectacular role models’ vs the extraordinary levels of drug-taking and addiction; the ‘we’re so important to the whole planet, observate our event!’ vs the fact that acting never saved lives; the ‘we’re all for foreigners! like adopting them!’ vs the fact that movies from elsewhere don’t do so well in the US market and wind up with a side acknowledgement at these events….and so on. There were bits that were straightup faily, but mostly I just liked that instead of leaving all that bullshit under-rug-swept, he gave it a nice good airing. There was a fair bit of smugness in that room, and there was some nice undermining of it, I thought. Of course, I’ve only watched a couple of compilation vids, rather than the actual thing, but still.

  8. Predictably, his sign-off with “thank God for making me an atheist” is the bit that’s really got the negative response.

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