Comedian Hasan Minhaj delivered a brutal indictment of the state of award shows, trade journalism, Armie Hammer and the indie film ecosystem at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday.
Streaming live on YouTube — a focal point of mockery in Minhaj’s monologue — the annual Santa Monica gathering started off on a bitter note. First in line for execution was IFC, the cable channel that previously aired the awards franchise but did not renew its licensing deal.
“We’re doing this super indie tonight,” Minhaj said. “We literally don’t have a distributor. The independent film channel did not want the independent film awards.”
He then pointed out what the network chose to air instead: “Semi-Pro,” a 2008 feature starring Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson.
In discussing the night’s big nominees, Minhaj turned his attention to the Luca Guadagnino film “Bones and All.” Minhaj wondered how many films Hollywood can make “about Timothée Chalamet falling in love with a cannibal.”
In “Bones and All,” Chalamet and Taylor Russell star as young lovers with a penchant for eating people, but the audience groaned at Minhaj’s intended dig at Armie Hammer, the disgraced actor who starred with Chalamet in the acclaimed “Call Me By Your Name.” Hammer faced numerous allegations of sexual assault in 2021, stemming from extramarital affairs that were often fetishistic. Messages exchanged between the actor and several women included language that referenced cannibalism.
Minhaj did not let himself off the hook, explaining to the audience that he took the hosting gig for exposure. He certainly didn’t do it for the pay.
“I am definitely not making as much as Jerrod Carmichael did when he hosted the Globes,” he said. “They handed me a Starbucks gift card and said use what is left on it.”
Minhaj did a lengthy bit criticizing Variety’s sister site Deadline Hollywood. Crowd shots were particularly awkward during the opener. Cate Blanchett squinted in confusion when the comic highlighted gender-neutral acting categories, saying that any man that going up against her would lose. “Abbott Elementary” star Quinta Brunson played along half-heartedly when Minhaj cracked that everyone in the room who loves her show — about a Philadelphia public school — sends their kids to elite private schools. Awards season breakout Paul Mescal smiled nervously through a Minhaj bit about how the two were about to play dead bodies on “The Crown,” referencing British colonialism affecting both Mescal’s Irish ancestors and Minhaj’s Indian ancestors.
Despite his oozing disdain for the industry, Minhaj has a packed dance card of Hollywood projects coming up, including the third season of “The Morning Show,” a role in Pamela Adlon’s feature directorial debut and Disney’s “Haunted Mansion.”