Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, in their opening monologue at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, quickly noted the ceremony marked their second consecutive go-around as co-hosts.
“This is Hollywood and if something kind of works, they’ll just keep doing it until everybody hates it,” Fey cracked.
The line – making fun of both show business and themselves – more than just “kind of” worked. It effectively set the tone for a strong return performance that surpassed the duo’s well received 2013 Globes debut.
Fey and Poehler again proved both as funny as and a contrast to their predecessor, three-time host Ricky Gervais, who alienated much of the Hollywood elite with the unremitting irreverence of a self-styled outsider.
Sure, Fey and Poehler played the outsider card, cheekily calling Tom Hanks “Tam Honks” and decrying a playing-along Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a traitor to the TV comedy crowd for sitting with the film folks (“You’re a real phony, Louis-Dreyfus,” Poehler mock snarled). But they successfully struck the tricky balance of entertaining the celebrities at the Beverly Hilton along with the audience at home – making everybody feel like part of the party, via some great quips:
•The original title of 1970s-set “American Hustle,” Fey revealed, was “Explosion in a Wig Factory.”
•She praised Meryl Streep’s performance in “August: Osage County,” citing the drama as evidence “there are great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60.”
•Poehler told Matt Damon that compared with the rest of the stars gathered “you’re basically a garbage person.”
•”Gravity,” Fey observed, is “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”
Fey and Poehler displayed the comic chemistry hatched during their "Saturday Night Live"/"Weekend Update" days. Theirs is less a comic/straight woman style than a humorous and healthy tag-team competition of the quick and clever. They're smart, funny friends brimming with wit that's sharp, but rarely cruel, even as they jabbed at Hollywood's tendency take itself – and its award shows – too seriously.
Poehler delivered the wisecrack of the night when she pointed out that Woody Allen followed in the footsteps of Martin Scorsese in receiving the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award. “I assume the award is for the tiniest man with the biggest glasses,” she deadpanned.
While the Globes have generated buzz in recent years as a harbinger of Oscar winners to come, the show also has become an early measure for award-season host comparisons. Fey and Poehler set the bar high Sunday night for Ellen DeGeneres’ upcoming Academy Awards gig March 2.
As we begin the long wait until Fey and Poehler's 2015 Golden Globes stint, revisit their award-worthy opening below:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.
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