There have been a handful of major award shows in the past year, but none of them have had the kind of opening that Sunday night’s Golden Globes did. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, joined in hosting duties but separated by coasts, started the telecast from their respective cities. The usual banter that the pair have had in their past hosting gigs and presenting appearances was there — and not even with the usual video delay. Before you knew it, they were tossing out fake titles for the 2021 nominees like “Ali G Goes to Chicago” and “Irish Goodnight.”
Just because the two were separated by thousands of miles (Fey broadcasting from the Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York and Poehler in the traditional Beverly Hilton ballroom) didn’t mean they were alone. Instead of the evening’s many nominees, the crowd was made up of first responders and essential workers, laughing along.
The two dispensed with the social distancing jokes early as quickly as they got into a split-screen formation designed to make you forget they weren’t in the same room. They quickly moved on to the traditional one-liners about the performers and directors and writers who would normally be within literal shouting distance.
Writer/directors took a few of the hardest hits. Of “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, Fey joked, “The thing I love about Aaron Sorkin’s writing is he can have seven men talking, but it feels like 100 men talking.” Meanwhile, when running down a list of what celebrities are “usually” doing at the main table, Poehler slipped in a line about “Quentin Tarantino crawling under the tables, just touching people’s feet.”
Poking fun at British people and deciding whether things are TV or movies has long been awards show fodder, so the two smashed the ideas together: “If the British actors are playing British people, it’s TV. If they’re playing Americans, it’s a movie.”
The demographic makeup of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was a predominant topic of conversation in the lead-up to Sunday’s show. Golden Globes hosts typically have a long leash when it comes to roasting HFPA voters, and the combination apologetic self-deprecation/back-patting started early.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of around 90 international — no black — journalists who attend movie junkets each year in search of a better life. We say around 90 because a couple of them might be ghosts, and it’s rumored that the German member is just a sausage that somebody drew a little face on,” Fey said.
The monologue’s oddest joke might have been about “Soul,” not just because it also played into the HFPA voter pile-on — “‘Soul’ is a beautiful Pixar animated movie where a middle-aged black man’s soul accidentally gets knocked out of his body and into a cat. The HFPA really responded to this movie because they do have five cat members.” — but because the woman who supplied the voice that came out of that man’s body for most of that movie was the teller of the joke: Fey herself.
After coining the term “plovie” (a play that gets turned into a movie, naturally), getting a jab in towards at least one late night host (“‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is…whatever James Corden was up to in ‘The Prom,’ I guess.”), and right before the only finishing line that made sense (“Could this whole night have been an email?!?”), they ended the night’s opening with a quasi-apology/nod to change on behalf of the HFPA.
“Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important. And there are no black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I realize, HFPA, maybe you guys didn’t get the memo because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald’s. But you got to change that. So here’s to changing it,” Fey said.