Liz On Ricky Gervais and Bette Midler

Liz Smith: Ricky Gervais Bites the Hand That Fed Him. And Spit It Out!
by LIZ SMITH on JANUARY 18, 2011

Mister D: So, do you think Bette could have taken the hot air out of Hollywood without offending too much? Did you enjoy Ricky Gervais’s Golden Globe take downs? I particularly thought they were pretty funny.

And more from our Gossip Girl: Liz reviews the 68th annual Golden Globes


That was Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais after one of his gasp-inducing jokes onstage at Hollywood’s Beverly Hilton Sunday night. Indeed he had warned the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of his low comedy intentions.

I wasn’t fond of Gervais’ brand of humor (or his glass of beer) at last year’s GG. And he was no more appealing this time. Some people – a lot of people! – love this kind of mean-spirited, potty-mouth comedy, especially when it is directed at the monster sacres of the movie world. (“Oh, they are paid so much ”¦ they are all egomaniacs ”¦ they deserve to be picked on, etc.”) But I feel this sort of thing can be done with more finesse. Bette Midler was a genius at pricking the pomposity of the rich and famous, which culminated in her ultimate flip-off: “Fuck ”˜em if they can’t take a joke!” And once upon a time Kathy Griffin was pretty hilarious. Then the industry got wise to the brilliant serpent they were clasping to their silicone bosoms, and Griffin was more or less expelled from the events that she skewered. She has re-invented herself, but has never regained her edge in La La Land.

But Ricky Gervais? He seems more like the rude, intoxicated guest who will not go home. Certainly the head of the Hollywood Foreign Press wasn’t amused. Though he, too, came off like a jerk. And Sly Stallone didn’t seem wildly impressed by the mocking intro he received from Ricky. However, after Robert Downey Jr. took the stage, following a verbal bitch-slap from Ricky, he showed how to do it right, reading off a list of female nominees. Robert was irreverent and naughty, but a kind of egotistical class act.

Does Ricky Gervais care? Not at all. His jokes, whether you like them or not, were the talk of the evening. He might not be back next year at the Globes, but he made his point. Which was? Biting the hand that feeds you is good publicity. (Others also tweaked the rather blatantly mysterious HFPA. Robert DeNiro was actually funny speaking of how the members mostly pose for photos with stars. (De Niro was wryly great and self-possessed accepting his Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.)

It is also safe publicity, when you are already rich and more or less famous. (Gervais created the British version of “The Office,” which came to the U.S. and has had great success with Steve Carrell. Next up? A Chinese version of “The Office” Gervais says.)

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2 thoughts on “Liz On Ricky Gervais and Bette Midler

  1. I happen to like Ricky Gervias as a comic. And here’s why, he does not apologize for anything. And why should he? There is nothing you should not joke about, it depends on what the joke is and who you are telling it to. If he has offended anyone in the past, screw you, build me a freakin bridge and get over it!

  2. I like Ricky’s comedy and I am a firm believer in the “be yourself” motto, but I also think there is a time and place. His whole opening monologue bit was hilarious -for a stand-up special. It made ME feel awkward seeing the faces of people in the audience and how awkward they looked during his bits. I consider the Oscars and Tonys the best awards shows we have and the Golden Globes is the one that is the ‘less serious’ Oscars. But his hosting antics were no greater than Queen Latifah with the terrible People’s Choice Awards. There’s a time and place for certain things and the way he presented just didn’t feel right with the setting. That said, I still loved the material.

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