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TAUBE: Ricky Gervais: American hero

Stars not sure what to do when someone knocks their crowns askew

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I've never been a big fan of awards shows. I find them to be boring, pompous, left-wing love-ins. That is, until I watched Ricky Gervais' stunning and hilarious performance Sunday as host of the Golden Globes. Much like the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Annies and the rest of the alphabet soup of awards shows, the Golden Globes, handed out annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) since 1944, are multihour snoozefests. If you want a cure for insomnia, here's the solution.

Mr. Gervais, a popular British comedian and co-creator of two TV shows ("The Office," "Extras"), had hosted last year's Golden Globes without much fanfare. There was no reason to think this year would be any different, until he issued a warning to Hollywood a week before the awards ceremony. Mr. Gervais told the Associated Press, "I'm going to go out there, guns blazing, like it's the end of the world." He went on to say, "I don't think I went far enough [last year]. Obviously not, because they invited me back. So, I'm going to do it again, do a proper job. And I guarantee they will not invite me back."

The comedian wasn't kidding. Mr. Gervais' performance was a mixture of biting satire, dark humor and no-holds-barred attitude. It caused many burst blood vessels and bruised egos in Hollywood - and understandably so. Here were three funny lines that night:

c "It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast."

c "I was sure the Golden Globe for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster [of "Sex and the City 2"]. Girls, we know how old you are. I saw one of you in an episode of 'Bonanza.' "

c "It's ['I Love You, Phillip Morris'] about two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay ... so the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then. My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke."

It didn't stop there. Bruce Willis, Demi Moore's first husband, was introduced by Mr. Gervais as the "dad" of her much younger second husband, Ashton Kutcher. People would know troubled actor Robert Downey Jr. "best from the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail." HFPA President Phillip Berk had to be helped "off the toilet and pop his teeth in."

Most critics panned Mr. Gervais' performance. Mr. Berk said the comedian "definitely crossed the line." The shell-shocked Hollywood crowd didn't know what to make of it. Even conspiracy theorists asked why Mr. Gervais disappeared during the second half of the program. The answer? It was planned. According to Mr. Gervais, "I did every single introduction I was meant to. There just happened to be a long gap."

For my part, I couldn't stop laughing. Why? Mr. Gervais said exactly what many of us feel about Hollywood. Actors and actresses live in a world of make-believe, jump from bed to bed at the drop of a dime, drink and do drugs like there's no tomorrow and support causes and political positions they barely understand. Despite this, they're held in high esteem by star-struck fans as role models for our society. It's baffling, to say the least.

But in a few short hours, Mr. Gervais helped partially expose the flaws, foolish positions and erratic behavior of the smug Hollywood elite. He may never host another awards show again, but he deserves credit for removing some of the shine from Tinseltown's glossy coat. Bravo, Mr. Gervais. Encore, encore.

Michael Taube is a former speechwriter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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