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Fellow comedian offers advice on working the room

Oswalt: Acad will have an amazing host if they let him be Chris Rock

Chris Rock’s selection as host of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony has Oscar-watchers buzzing about what the talented and provocative comedian might have up his sleeve when he hits the stage of the Kodak Theater.

In previous stints as host of MTV’s irreverent Video Music Awards and as a presenter on both the Oscar and Emmy telecasts, Rock has not been afraid to skewer his audience with material so biting that it left some observers stunned at — and comedians undoubtedly envious of — his audacity.

MTV Networks president Van Toffler joked to the New York Times that Rock “definitely increased my expenditures for apology gifts” as a result of some of his more pointed jabs, and one comedian is cheering for Rock to let loose on Oscar night.

“I’m rooting for him to do really well,” says standup and “The King of Queens” co-star Patton Oswalt. “He’ll be an amazing host if they let him be Chris Rock.”

The Oscar crowd can be notoriously difficult for a comedian to reach, given the frayed nerves, uncomfortable formal wear and dread at sitting through what promises to be quite a long show.

“I can’t even imagine the terror of hosting the Oscars,” Oswalt says. “It’s hard to be funny in a tux. I give (Billy) Crystal and (Steve) Martin full credit.

“Different performers have different ways of controlling a show and making a show their own. Rock is so contentious and refreshing. … The key to his humor lies in pointing out and deflating pretension and self-importance. If he can capture and embody the essence of not caring what these people think about him, then he’ll do OK.”

Tune in Feb. 27 to see how it all turns out.

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