Jo Koy’s Biggest Mistake at the Golden Globes

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Written By Pinang Driod

Here are some things I saw while tuning in to last night’s Golden Globes that made me laugh harder than anything the ceremony’s host, the comedian Jo Koy, said on stage: this video of Oppenheimer’s Cillian Murphy looking lost on the red carpet; the moment The Bear star Ayo Edebiri remembered to acknowledge her “real family also” after thanking her castmates; this tweet.

Which is to say, well, Koy bombed. His opening monologue began poorly—“We all dreamt of this moment!” he declared enthusiastically to silent, apparent disagreement—and only got worse. Like any awards-show host, Koy shouted out individual nominees, but practically every joke failed to land, mostly because the punchlines were dated or obvious. He poked fun at eventual best-drama winner Oppenheimer’s three-hour runtime, claiming he’d finish watching the movie in 2025. For Barbie, which later won the new prize for cinematic and box-office achievement, he admitted he didn’t know what to expect from a movie about “a plastic doll with big boobies.” He made a quip about Meryl Streep winning all the time—who hasn’t?—and then, apropos of nothing, asked her to do the “Wakanda Forever” pose from Black Panther.

By the end of his set, Koy sounded indignant, seemingly picking up on how little the crowd was vibing with his comedy. “Yo, I got the gig 10 days ago, you want a perfect monologue? Yo, shut up,” he said. “I wrote some of these, and they’re the ones you’re laughing at.”

Hosting a Hollywood awards show isn’t always a disaster, but Koy’s dreadful performance proved the thanklessness of the job. And given his late hiring, he was especially unsuited for the task. But as the night continued—and Koy dispensed with the gags as he introduced presenters—his diminished time on stage demonstrated just how unnecessary such hosts are.

Consider the few benefits to stepping on stage before an audience of mostly famous people on track to win prestigious awards. Sure, there’s the exposure and however much a host gets paid for the gig. But the emcee never walks away with a trophy. Rather, such an entertainer must toe that fine line between sucking up to those being feted and doing the kind of ribbing that’ll get enough laughter to register on a telecast. Those who have done well enough in the role tend to be late-night hosts for a reason: They’re already well acquainted with the stars in the room.

And then there’s the humor. A host who’s also a stand-up comic, like Koy, doesn’t normally deliver a set that’s close to their usual style; they must compromise their comedy to do the job, because they’re talking exclusively about the projects and people being honored. There are exceptions—Jerrod Carmichael at last year’s Golden Globes comes to mind, because he had more to discuss—but more often than not, the host is expected to amuse those before him and keep viewers hooked. That means lobbing lighthearted one-liners at A-listers—not exactly the most exciting or creative exercise.

It’s telling that the Globes struggled to land a host until a little more than a week ago—as well as that other shows have gone back to the same hosts over and over and over again. The Oscars, despite trying a few years sans host, will be emceed by Jimmy Kimmel for the fourth time in March. The Grammys will find Trevor Noah on stage, also for the fourth time, later this month. Awards shows aren’t really for fresh comedy or personality. They’re for familiarity.

In many ways, then, Koy was doomed to fail. As a comic who doesn’t anchor a late-night show, he’s not a face or name most viewers recognize, and making an excellent first impression to those watching at home and before a room he’s never emceed makes for an intimidating challenge. He also happened to host the first Globes that honored stand-up comedy, as well as the first major Hollywood awards show being telecast since the end of the dual writer and actor strikes. That’s a party you want to attend, not manage.

Perhaps the biggest mistake Koy made was accepting such an irrelevant job in the first place. “I want to bring my style to the Globes,” he told the AP in the lead-up. “Of course, I’m going to have fun. But most importantly, I want to make sure everyone’s happy.” As Koy learned Sunday night, that’s impossible to do at an awards show. Not unless you’re a trophy.

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