In (partial) defense of Jo Koy’s comic disaster: hosting the Golden Globes is much harder than it seems | Viv Groskop

WWhen will we forget the idea that putting on a huge awards show is a great job for a comedian and – an even crazier notion – easy? The response to Golden Globes host Jo Koy is both surprising and not surprising. “Maybe the Golden Globes…don’t need a host, actually?” Rude. “Jo Koy’s bombs.” Mean. And the real kicker: “Taylor Swift unimpressed.”

Why surprising? Because no one seriously imagines that a phalanx of Hollywood superstars gathered in Spanx and borrowed Cartier jewelry constitutes a relaxed, enthusiastic crowd. It should be more of a story about when award organizers rock a room with belly laughs, especially when the room in question is full of notoriously humorless celebrities who would probably never go to a stand-up gig in real life. life.

But the reaction is also not surprising. Because everyone love when a comedian bombs. It activates a sort of primordial Schadenfreude gene. As a comedian, your work on stage can go two directions: you make people forget how horrible life is by making them laugh, or you make them remember how beautiful life is. their life is because they don’t live yours and they are not You, dying on stage. Either way, it’s an important public service.

After the event, there’s no point trying to pretend that the material wasn’t actually that bad (which it wasn’t), or that Koy’s performance had its moments of charm and professionalism (which was the case). Because comedy escapes analysis, justification or explanation: either it is funny in the moment, or it is not. And there’s no arguing with the tumbleweed, or its deadly equivalent: Taylor Swift on camera, taking the tiniest sip of her drink.

A lot of comedy is about context and establishing who you are in relation to the audience. So in some ways Koy’s stint is more impressive than recent Golden Globes bookings, as his work wouldn’t have been particularly familiar to much of the audience in the room or at home. This is why high-profile artists like Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Kimmel or Chris Rock have a natural “stickiness” when they take the stage: there is a ready-made expectation about the direction they will take.

You can work with it and you can turn it around. Gervais often played these concerts almost with the express intention of explicitly eliciting gasps of horror or intake of breath rather than hearty laughter – and it works because you know that was his intention.

Comedian and actor Ali Wong, who was in attendance at the Golden Globes but reportedly turned down the opportunity to host the ceremony. Photo: Allison/EPA Dinner

In Koy’s defense, while the search for a host was on, a famous publicist told CNN: “It’s a thankless job.” Several prominent comedians (including Chris Rock and Ali Wong) turned down the role. Even Amy Poehler and Tina Fey – arguably the most popular hosting duo of all time – have reportedly said they will never attend the Golden Globes again.

To be fair to him, it’s not unreasonable that Koy tried to make jokes about Barry Keoghan’s and Oppenheimer’s penises being somewhat long. They are. But he made the crucial mistake of recounting the awkward silence that resulted: “I got the job 10 days ago. Do you want a perfect monologue? It never works if you ask the audience to give you a break. They didn’t come here to give you a break. They came to laugh. And now you’re saying they’re asking too much? Once you’ve expressed this thought, expect to keep digging.

Ultimately, comedy is dangerously subjective and that’s why it’s so enjoyable. Joan Rivers liked to say that a comedian only needs to be liked by 2% of the population and can fill a stadium for the rest of his life. With numerous stand-up specials on Comedy Central and Netflix, Koy already owns more than his 2%. The Golden Globes, whether won or lost, are just a rite of passage for comedians to the highest levels of fame. Either way, all comedy should rightly be, to use the motto of the legendary London comedy night The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, “a noble failure”. (The audience shouts this during each act as they leave the stage, regardless of their fate.)

Finally, you have to think about the brief. It wasn’t about creating an all-ages comedy. It was about getting the Golden Globes back on track after a period of controversy over racism and corruption. THE Los Angeles Times reported: “The show was watchable…but not interesting. » This is not what you would want on your next tour poster. But that may be exactly the kind of overhaul organizers have ordered.

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