Review: Ricky Gervais’ Opening Monologue at the 2016 Golden Globes

Ricky Gervais’ Monologue at the 2016
Courtesy of NBC

Ricky Gervais was up to his old tricks during his Golden Globes monologue Sunday night. As he has in the past, the Golden Globes deployed a few zingers that hit their chosen targets, and by far his most successful jokes revolved around the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which he takes great delight in mocking.

But Gervais also took some cheap shots with jokes that felt tiresome before he even finished them. “I’m going to be nice tonight,” he said, and of course no one believed him. “I’ve changed,” he pleaded. “Of course, not as much as Bruce Jenner.”

The reception among the audience to that comment was muted; it just seemed wrong and not particularly kind to refer to Caitlyn Jenner by a name she no longer uses. Gervais quickly mentioned that Jenner now goes by Caitlyn, and talked about how she has courageously broken down barriers and did wonderful things last year.

But then Gervais made perhaps the hackiest joke of his monologue: “She didn’t do much for women drivers,” a reference to the car accident Jenner was in last year.

Gervais couldn’t resist making even more “jokes” about Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Maura Pfefferman on “Transparent,” whom he said reminds him of his “Nan.” The fact that Gervais made such a big deal of the fact that Tambor has to put on women’s clothing in order to play the role of Maura was unsettling, to say the least. Trans awareness has made a lot of progress in the world in the last few years, but the fact that Gervais couldn’t let this topic go shows how little progress has been made among least-common-denominator comedians. The trans mockery section took up a large chunk of his monologue time, but all his digs were tin-eared and predictable.

But then again, that’s a large part of Gervais’ hosting brand at this point: Taking cheap shots at very obvious targets. “Shut up, I don’t care,” he said when there was a rumbling response to one joke. It’s hard not to take him at his word.

There were the usual array of digs at famous people, perhaps most notably Gervais’ characterization of “Spotlight,” a film about a journalists who reported on the coverup of priests molesting children, as Roman Polanski’s favorite date film. He also delved into the subject of female-driven film remakes and equal pay for women in Hollywood.

“There were marches with nurses and factory workers” after Jennifer Lawrence wrote about the pay gap in Hollywood. “How could a 25-year-old live on $52 million?”

And female-driven remakes are smart, he added. It allows the studios to rake in money and “they don’t have to spend too much money on the cast.”

One of most notable elements of Gervais’ Globe routines, and Sunday was no exception, is sense of smug satisfaction that emanates from the host. There’s nothing wrong with confidence and certainly the skewering of Hollywood egos is almost always to be welcomed. If only Gervais’ jokes were sharp enough to be on the same lofty plane as his very evident self-regard.

As it was, his most successful target was the HFPA and the awards they give out as being “worthless.”

“It’s a bit of mental that some nice old confused journalists so they could meet you and have a selfie with you.”

“And they asked me to host these four times!” Gervais chuckled. And who knows, despite his frequently threadbare jokes, they might ask him four more.

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  1. Ricky says ‘just because you’re offended doesn’t make you right’ – so guess what Maureen? ;)

  2. S says:

    Looks like Ricky Gervais has gone WAY over your head, Maureen. Lighten up in preparation for the next time he’s asked back to host.

  3. lamyotte says:

    Oh boo hoo another snob who doesn’t get comedy if he offended you he did his job

    • Ziggy S says:

      Lighten up, people! He doesn’t have an obligation to be PC, Ricky’s just trying to be funny. The difference between him and many other comedians is that he is HILARIOUSLY funny!

  4. Xanzia says:

    Did you get paid for writing this?

  5. AFCB says:

    Gervais is fantastic and made a dull award show watchable, unfortunately there are a few Americans out there who struggle with his British style sense of humour which is clearly world class!!! Anyone who doesn’t get his sense of humour hasn’t got one!!!! I put it this way I would rather spend an evening with Ricky Gervais than Maureen Ryan!!

  6. DavidV says:

    Gervais was hilarious. What on earth is Maureen Ryan’s agenda here? She didn’t think the jokes about Sean Penn or Bruce Jenner were funny? Seriously?

    The oscar ceremony has become unwatchable. Gervais injects humor and fun into the Golden Globes. Last night’s show will be easily the best of the award season.

  7. Alex Thomson says:

    It’s the same every year Gervais presents. A few people take to twitter because they think their personal crusade is above being poked fun at. A good many sanctimonious acolytes, I mean critics, like the above, jump at the chance to defend their beloved stars. Meanwhile everyone is still laughing. Laughing at a string of funny jokes poking fun at very privileged people, most of whom in fairness, seemed to be laughing themselves.

  8. Hugo says:

    I think these comments went ever so slightly above your head.

  9. Thad Revitt says:

    Trans awareness has made a lot of progress in the world in the last few years, but the fact that Gervais couldn’t let this topic go shows how little progress has been made among least-common-denominator comedians… It’s all funny as long as you’re talking about stupid southern redneck christians. On no you can’t talk about a man pretending to be a woman. Oh and it’s real cool to refer to a man as she and her when any genetics test will show you clearly it’s a man. I tell you what I will start referring to it as a woman when you revoke the medals HE won as an athlete and do a financial audit of the money made in endorsements and such as a result of winning the decathlon and seize those assets. You people are deluded. He is doing this because he has too much money and he’s bored so please stop calling him brave and quit giving him female based accolades that rightly belong to women who have suffered and struggled under the difficulties society creates for woman to succeed. To give him any accolade specifically designed to recognize the effort of women is an insult to actual women.

  10. gkn says:

    When are you PC cops going to grow a sense of humor?

  11. qt says:

    Funniest host ever!!!! He was soooo ridiculously good. Anybody who doesn’t think so has a stick up their ***!! There is nothing about him that’s mean spirited at all. And if I had been the butt of any of his jokes, I would’ve been tearing up from laughing. We all do silly things and it’s great to have someone call you out on it rather than just praising the ground you walk because you lucked out in life and got an amazing career with tons of money. It’s also great to have someone call out those jerks who actually DO insanely horribly criminal things (i.e. Roman Polanski) yet continue living freely just because of their bank account and connections!!! Love Ricky Gervais! And loveeee that he doesn’t take himself or Hollywood seriously. There’s enough vanity in the world. We need more award hosts & just people in general like him.

  12. Moon says:

    I know this is quite bold and a generalisation, but I tend to stay away from people that do not appreciate Ricky Gervais sense of humour and jokes. They are the true scary closeted-psychos waiting to explode one day.

  13. Andy Laflare says:

    The joke about putting on dress and make up… Dis you not get it was an allusion to all women having to do it as a job requirement ? Maybe Ricky Gervais is funnier than you think but you aren’t sharp enough to get the jokes… #justsaying

  14. SteverB says:

    This “reviewer” has MUCH more of an agenda than Gervais did! Wow, Variety, way to skewer that low-hanging fruit!

  15. macd says:

    Ricky Gervais was hilarious. If he hosted the Oscars, I’d watch.

  16. Ava says:

    Ricky Gervais fell short of entertaining. It was boring. I thought he would come up with something new about Mel G., but it was nothing but old news….who cares about old news. I thought he would at least make fun of Leo DeCaprio thinking that Canada’s Chinooks were a fearful global warming, but no.
    That will be the last disappointing GG award show I’ll watch.

  17. Oh Maureen, lighten up. Gervais’s jokes have always been tongue in cheek and he’s “playing a role”. He’s a stand-up comedian at heart. Hollywood could use a bit of a jolt. So these poor celebs get their feelings hurt. I don’t think anyone is crying for them.

  18. Carieny says:

    PLEASE GET A NEW HOST. DID NOT ENJOY RICKY GERVAIS AT ALL !!

  19. Jacques Strappe says:

    Ricky’s comedy schtick is always hit or miss as his jokes intended to shock and provoke aren’t always that shocking, provocative, original or funny, His opening monologue was no different tonight. I personally didn’t think he crossed any lines with Caitlyn Jenner jokes,especially the female car driver reference. His best line was the one about Jennfier Lawrence and he fight for female equal pay, drawing a contrast to the actresses $52 million salary and what most women and the rest of us earn. Overall, I give his opening monologue a grade of C.

  20. He’s funny, he’s sharp, and if you don’t like the jokes, that’s okay because you can spend 3 hours watching overly gay showtunes and bad routines at the Oscars to get 8 mins of actual content plus the In Memorium segment. Gervais hit the mark and if people don’t like the content, they’re in the wrong industry. Get over it.

  21. Away says:

    Actually, the fact that a lot of people can’t laugh about transgender shows the real lack of progression on the topic – not the fact that people are making jokes about it.

  22. mightymad says:

    That whole thing about the studio remaking franchises, but with female leads, to rank out the dough and not spending too much on the cast…

    Are we sure that was a joke? ‘Cause I’m actually pretty certain it might be true.

  23. Jimmy Green says:

    OMG. Did he really say that?

  24. Ben says:

    Oh come on. They’re just jokes! Funny Ones at that. Get over yourself.

  25. Frances says:

    Get a new host for the Golden Globes Ricky gervais sucks. Not worth watching

  26. Bill says:

    Thank you Variety for the PC review.

    • Michael says:

      True comment Ricky earns his money because of his talent .
      Maureen as to be seen to be on the actor’s side or she would not get any interviews .
      Ricky does not need them they need him who would watch or comment other wise.

      Michael

      • Tom says:

        Ricky made the very apt point after his previous hosting that the people he is lampooning are not decorated soldiers who are recuperating at a VA hospital.

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