The Golden Globes happened, the world continues to turn

You probably know by now that the big water cooler topic in Hollywood about¬†last night at the Golden Globes isn’t so much the awards themselves. Yes, there were some nice surprises in the acting categories, most notably for Paul Giamatti in “Barney’s Version.” “The Social Network” remains a big Oscar favorite, and so on. (You can see a complete list of last night’s winners here, by the way). No. It appears the most criticized man in Hollywood this day is not Mel Gibson or Jeff Zucker, but one Mr. Ricky Gervais.¬† Here, via the Guardian, is the opening monologue for those of you who missed it or want to relive the moment.

It seems to me that there is no more thankless high-profile task in major-league Hollywood today than being a stand-up hosting an award show. Much better to be an actor doing tightly scripted song-and-dances. As a conventional host, if you’re too much of a flatterer you annoy everyone who wasn’t personally flattered, but just ask Chris Rock and Jon Stewart how even relatively tame cracks can be bandied about in the press for days as writers panic on behalf of show biz egos.

Mary McNamara‘s piece at the L.A. Times underplays the criticism that Rock received at the time for his not-too-extreme critique of Jude Law’s acting abilities compared to Hollywood greats. David Letterman was bashed for being too silly. Stewart was deemed insufficiently differential and not funny enough, though to me it was case of maybe being too honest for the room. Of course, that was the Oscars — which shouldn’t be taken all that seriously but still has a certain mythological import to it — and this was the Golden Globes, the famously drunken award show with the often bizarre nominations and sometimes strange wins.

My attitude is this: Yes, Gervais crossed the line at points — though determining where the line is isn’t always so easy. The crack about Scientology and certain allegedly closeted top stars was pretty nasty, and worse, wasn’t funny. I could understand why the head of the HFPA was angry — though if he didn’t want to have cruel jokes made about him and his job, he’s heading the wrong organization. On the other hand, Gervais was often very funny with better aimed and gentler jabs, and last night’s performance does have its fans. I thought the joke about Bruce Willis being Ashton Kutcher’s dad was funny and it looked to me like Willis maybe thought so too. Others were somewhere in between. They hired Gervais, but what they really wanted was Don Rickles. Someone who’d insult people in such a way that no one would take it seriously. That’s hard to do if you don’t happen to actually be Rickles.

I wouldn’t want to be Gervais, or Gervais’s publicist, today but I think we all take these things way too seriously, and everyone still has their careers. We spend too much time reading the tea leaves and are too quick to make Nikki Finke-style conclusions about the goodness or evil of certain figures based on pretty minimal information. The Steve Carrell “it never gets old” line and putative feud over the different versions of “The Office” struck me as more Jack Benny and Fred Allen than West Coast vs. East Coast rappers. They might well have been “joking on the square,” but they might just as easily have been nervously joking.

Anyhow, if any of you have any thoughts on the matter, feel more than free to pipe up in comments. Oh, and be nice!

  

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Bullz-Eye’s Stand-Up Comics Hall of Fame: The Class of 2009

It’s a whole new year, and what better way to celebrate than by honoring five of the funniest mofos ever to walk the planet?

Yes, that’s right, it’s time to induct a new class into Bullz-Eye’s Stand-Up Comics Hall of Fame! The inaugural class included notable funnymen Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Cosby, Lenny Bruce, and Bill Hicks — tough acts to follow, to be sure, but if anyone can stand up to the pressure, it’s the five comedy legends in the class of ’09.

Don RicklesLike Don Rickles, for instance. The curmudgeonly insult comic has been gracing talk show couches for decades, tossing off cutting one-liners and turning the phrase “hockey puck” into something more than sports terminology. His routines may seem quaint today, but catch him on a good night, and he’ll put any younger comic to shame — even a new insult legend like, say, a certain canine puppet.

Another oldie-but-goodie on this year’s list is Bob Newhart, the film and sitcom star whose deadpan stare and trademark stammer has always masked an unexpectedly subversive sense of humor — remember the way he ended Newhart by turning the entire series into a bad dream suffered by the character he played on The Bob Newhart Show? Though surely the most old-fashioned humorist in this year’s class, Newhart was also one of the most groundbreaking comics of his era — and his routines have aged better than most.

Speaking of groundbreaking, how about Steve Martin? The silver-haired stand-up has kept a fairly low profile for the last 10 years or so, periodically emerging to star in one poorly reviewed film or another, but during his heyday, Martin was a platinum-selling, SNL-hosting pioneer of absurdist humor. Who else could have snuck a ditty about King Tut onto Top 40 radio, then gone on to a career as a critically respected novelist and playwright? Even now, Martin remains as nuttily prolific as ever; 2009 will see him reprising his role as the nouveau Inspector Clouseau in Pink Panther 2 and releasing an album of original banjo music.

Sam KinisonThe one member of this year’s class who won’t be releasing anything new is Sam Kinison, the screeching ex-reverend who perished after his car was hit by a teenage drunk driver in 1992. He’s remembered today chiefly as the beret-wearing little screaming dude whose Jessica Hahn-led video for “Wild Thing” sparked a tidal wave of nocturnal emissions in the ’80s, but Kinison’s humor was smarter — and more tender — than he was given credit for.

“Tender” is not a word often used to describe our fifth inductee. Actually, these days, “funny” isn’t often used either, but Eddie Murphy‘s incendiary early run was so incredible that no amount of Meet Dave-level “comedies” can wipe away his legacy. Forget about The Adventures of Pluto Nash — no comedy collection is complete without Murphy’s Delirious, not to mention most of his movie and television appearances from 1980-87.

So, like we said — the first HOF class was a tough act to follow, but we think you’ll agree that this year’s set of honorees is up to the standard. So what are you waiting for? Read all about them here!

  

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Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget

This should have been explosive. Bob Saget, who made nine figures pimping some of the blandest television ever created, is in fact one of the filthiest comics on the planet. Comedy Central lines up nothing but comedians – and Cloris Leachman, who steals the show – to roast him, which means there are theoretically no dead spots in the lineup, right? Wrong. The comedians on the dais are the weakest batch that Comedy Central has ever assembled for a roast, to the point where Carrot Top’s bit during Flavor Flav’s roast looks better and better in retrospect. Jon Lovitz tanked, Brian Posehn just isn’t wired to roast, and Norm McDonald, arguably the funniest guy on the dais, deliberately tanked his routine, going old-school clean to counter Saget’s inherent foulness. Lastly, the grand roastmaster Lisa Lampanelli is not present, and she is sorely missed. John Stamos actually does a great job as host, and Saget’s rebuttal is second only to Leachman (to Brian Posehn: “Man, look at you. Did any lesbians survive the fire?”). Still, this had the potential to be much funnier than it is. Pity.

Click here to buy “Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget”

  

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Ten comments about the 2008 Emmy Awards

1. Call him a dick for saying it, but Jeremy Piven’s dismissal of the opening of this year’s ceremony during his acceptance speech was right on the money. After that brief montage of stars quoting classic TV catchphrases, Oprah killed the show stone dead with her opening remarks, and the never-ending sequence by the reality-show hosts was downright painful. It was the worst beginning to an Emmy broadcast that I can remember.

2. I liked “Recount” as much as the next guy, but Tom Hooper was robbed. He totally deserved to win the award for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special for his work on “John Adams.” That said, Jay Roach defused my anger somewhat when he thanked “my rock ‘n’ roll sweetheart, Susanna Hoffs,” in his acceptance speech.

3. Don Rickles can be funnier with one motion of his eyebrow than Kathy Griffin is likely to be in her entire career…and, indeed, he proved this tonight.

4. Bryan Cranston, God love him, only won his Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series because of the split-vote phenomenon.

5. I’m not saying Josh Groban’s TV-themes medley was great, but hearing him screech Cartman’s lines in the “South Park” theme was worth the price of admission.

6. Ricky Gervais’s bit where he demanded that Steve Carrel return his Emmy was brilliant…but with that said, I went to see “Get Smart” at the local discount theater this weekend instead of paying full price to see “Ghost Town.” I’m just saying.

7. As happy as I was to see “Mad Men” win Outstanding Drama Series, I think I was just as psyched that “Damages” got the love it did in the acting categories. I might’ve picked Ted Danson to win over Zeljko Ivanek, I admit, but I’m sure as hell not complaining. Season 2 of that series can’t get here soon enough.

8. It was totally an industry joke, but when Tom Hanks thanked Chris Albrecht during his acceptance speech for “John Adams,” then cupped his ear to see if anyone would applaud, I laughed out loud.

9. Although way too much was made of the whole Outstanding Reality-Show Host award (and giving the Outstanding Reality-Show Competition award to “The Amazing Race” for the sixth consecutive year was abso-fricking-lutely ridiculous), Jimmy Kimmel’s waiting until after the commercial break to announce the winner was truly inspired.

10. Tommy Smothers is my hero.

  

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