Out of Order: Gervais at the Golden Globes

After being on hiatus for the holidays I’m happy to have a good story to write about to kick off 2011, even if we’re already a few weeks in. Comedian Ricky Gervais had people squirming in their seats at the Golden Globes Sunday. Did you know they were on? I don’t follow the awards season much, but after hearing of the contrversy over his performance I decided to take a look. Even before I watched it I was wondering why they hired him for the job? If you’ve seen his stand-up it’s pretty much over-the-top, offensive humour from start to finish. I like comedians who push the envelope, say something that produces that mix of hand covered mouthes and unrestrained laughter – a palpable sign of discordance in our politically correct society. However, I don’t think it should be used for 60 minutes straight, I prefer someone like George Carlin, who used that kind of humour sparingly but wisely. Both men would tell you that you can joke about anything, it’s the context, and in Ricky’s case it’s the direct, unabashed offensiveness that has people keeling in their seats, most of the time. Hardly the case, judging by the awkward laughs and stone faces during the broadcast and the subsequent fallout, not everyone enjoyed Ricky’s brand of humour. What did they expect, he hosted the year before, for god’s sake. I’ll be honest, the digs Gervais made read like a tabloid newspaper, Charlie Sheen is a booze-hound, Tom Cruise is a closet homosexual, Hugh Hefner is old, ha-bloody-ha. Given the fact that none of these people were present it seemed irrelevant to the show and just comes off a TMZ like, celebrity-obsessed, Hollywood-centric garbage. I was happy to see De Niro got into it with some better jibes – he can be seen laughing heard during Gervais’ set – but again people seemed a little on edge and more nervous than anything. Other presenters fired back, in a one-two punch Tom Hanks said to Tim Allen “We recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian,” to which Allen replied: “Neither of which he is now.” Oh snap! Come on guys, you can do better than that, and Ricky can take it. Granted, this isn’t a celebrity roast, but nevertheless people should understand that it’s just a joke. I’m not one who enjoys watching celebrities go off the deep end, a strange kind of schadenfreude our celebrity-worshipping society indulges in, but if a distinguished actor like like De Niro can laugh at himself, we should be able to as well. Besides, imagine how our delicate sensbilities had been offended if Ricky hadn’t toned it down, here’s what he had orginally planned.

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