Hero Worship

by Tom Swift

I can’t remember the last time I watched an awards show.

Yet I cant’t get enough Golden Globes highlights — at least I can’t get enough Golden Globes highlights in which the host is Ricky Gervais.

I think I have watched his monologue from Sunday’s 2020 ceremony five times already. Even better are the compilations, and there are several good ones, of the best bits from all five times Gervais has hosted.

I must say I’m not the biggest Gervais fan you’re going to meet. Despite regular and sustained peer pressure, I didn’t get into The Office. And I couldn’t, frankly, name many — any? — of the other television shows or feature films in which he has starred.

I watch Golden Globes Gervais for his shear fearlessness.

He says he doesn’t care and you believe him. He will take on anyone in the room — not accepting the high-powered people who pay him handsomely to be there.

I have heard critics say that they do not appreciate Gervais’s style. It’s easier to put people down, they say, than to lift them up and, no doubt, Gervais puts people down. But a couple things about that:

First, he puts down members of a community — celebrities — who, let’s face it, have some ego to give. Gervais takes on a celebrity culture (“the world’s most important people, actors,” he says) that is, when you think two seconds about it, absurd). I don’t have much empathy for a public roasting of Robert Downey, Jr. Celebrity life is voluntary and it comes with more than a few perks. You sign up for a public life of wealth and convenience few of us can fathom. Gervais doesn’t put down non-celebrities. He goes after Johnny Depp, not Greta Thunberg.

Second, he’s a comedian. He tells jokes. This isn’t an inspirational seminar. He makes fun of things, of people. It’s what a comedian does. And. They. Are. Again. Jokes. You don’t have to watch.

Of course, skewering people is only palatable if slathered in some spicy funny sauce and Gervais brings the goods. Some of his bits you watch because did he really say that? Me, I watch because the brilliance somehow gets better with repetitive viewings.

The best example of this is the first time Gervais introduced Mel Gibson. Just pure gold. For me, the best part is the single second after Gervais delivered the punchline when he claps his hands and looks at Mel because he knows he nailed it in a way maybe no one else could have. You know the line and the moment I am talking about or else, well, you have access to YouTube as much as next man.