Gervais Humor at Golden Globes

When a comedian hosts an awards show, you can expect some roast-style humor.  That’s why they hire the comic.  A roast structure creates a vehicle to ensure the success of the jokes which follow.  Before you start firing jokes at people in the audience, you need permission.  This is usually received by making fun of yourself, which gives you permission to make fun of the boss or authority figures, which gives you permission to make fun of the honored guests.

Last night Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globe Awards for the third year.  Some people were surprised he was chosen as this year’s emcee because many thought he was over-the-top offensive last year.  But in his pre-show appearances, he made it clear that he was going to do some sharply-pointed humor this year, too.  The anticipation of what he was going to say helped build the tension, which is an important trigger for humor.

Here are some bits from his monologue (not the whole monologue) and some observations:

So where was I?
(A transition from last year’s performance to this year’s.  Sets the stage for “more of the same.”)

Nervous? Don’t be. This isn’t about you.
(He will start primarily with jokes about the sponsor of the event and himself.)

Hello, I’m Ricky Gervais and welcome to the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.  Voted for by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
(His formal opening lines establish the fact that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was an authority figure, a fact which may not have been well-known to the television viewing audience.)

Tonight you get Britain’s biggest comedian, hosting the world’s second biggest awards show on America’s third biggest network.
(Uses the rule of three.  Pokes fun at the host network.)

Sorry, is it? Fourth. It’s fourth.
(A topper.  And another joke poking fun at the host network, an authority figure.)

For any of you who don’t know, the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem.
(Uses humor to compare the Golden Globes to the Oscars.  Again poking fun at the “boss.”)

The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton.
(Uses pop culture to make a comparison.)

Now the Hollywood Foreign Press have warned me that if I insult any of you or any of them or offend any viewers or cause any controversy whatsoever, they’ll definitely invite me back next year as well.
(The technique of extrapolation.  Was offensive last year.  Will be offensive again this year.  Will be back next year for more of the same.)

They actually gave me a list of rules. I’m going to ignore them, but I thought it would be good to read them out.
(Using a list is a good way to say something funny while pretending they’re not your words.)

No profanity. That’s fine. I’ve got a huge vocabulary. No nudity. See, that’s a shame. Because I’ve got a huge…vocabulary. But a tiny….
(Self deprecation.)

Homeland…It’s about a load of immigrants who came to America about 100 years ago and they got involved in bribing and corruption and they worked their way up into high society. But enough about the Hollywood Foreign Press.
(More humor at the expense of the “boss.”)

I’m joking. I love them and they’re good sports for inviting me back. What I didn’t know is they do an awful lot for charity and their non-profit organization. Just like NBC.
(A softener, which is the equivalent to saying, “I’m just joking.”  Which he then follows up with another jab at the authority figures.)

(Gervais has poked fun at NBC, the Hollywood Foreign Press, and himself.  He’s ready to start the show.)
Should we get on with it?