Tina Fey and Amy Poehler teased some of the stars in the audience as they opened the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday night – but made sure to praise Anne Hathaway for her stunning performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Misérables.”
“I have not seen someone so totally alone and abandoned like that since you were on the stage with James Franco at the Oscars,” Fey quipped.
The line, which drew guffaws from Hathaway, the crowd and probably lots of folks watching at home, set the tone for show. Fey and Poehler let both the celebrities and TV audience in on the jokes with a winning team performance far looser – and funnier – than anything seen on the Academy Awards in recent years. On a night dominated by prizes for serious movies, Fey and Poehler won laughs.
The Golden Globes pairing reignited the comedic chemistry the duo kindled as young improv performers at Second City and later on “Saturday Night Live.” Their reunion also came with Poehler’s quirky “Parks and Recreation” finally getting some deserved wider recognition this season as Fey’s fast-and-furiously funny “30 Rock” heads for the finish line
In their limited screen time they fired off one-liners at a “30 Rock” pace. They gamely mocked their TV pedigrees (“Only at the Golden Globes do the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television,” Poehler noted). They took aim at the flap over the torture scenes in director Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” (“When it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron,” Poehler deadpanned). They showed up in the audience as fake nominees (including a bearded Fey as Damian Francisco, cited for his role as a “professional volleyball player battling restless leg syndrome” in “Dog President”).
The Fey-Poehler duet represented a comic continuation of what Ricky Gervais started in 2010 as the Globes’ first host. His slaughtering-sacred-cows approach grabbed attention and generated controversy three years running (“Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight because he is no longer technically in show business,” Fey joked).
Fey and Poehler's somewhat gentler style ably reinforced his credo that a host's job isn't about zinging stars as much as it is making fun of the inherent pomposity of awards shows – and entertaining the masses watching from living rooms around the world.
Gervais – and Fey and Poehler – beat the Academy Awards to the punch (line). The bold choice
of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane to host Hollywood’s biggest night next month reflects a need to shake things up after some disappointing outings – most notably Franco and Hathaway’s less-than-dreamlike 2011 attempt. MacFarlane’s cracks during Thursday’s Oscars nominations – including a Hitler gag of dubious taste
– suggested a Gervais-like irreverence is in the offing on Feb. 24.
He’s got his cutting up work cut out for him. In the category of the year’s best awards show hosts, Fey and Poehler on Sunday night laughed all the way to an early lead.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.