Success in one entertainment sphere is not always an indication of success in another, a fact that could not be more true when it comes to hosting an awards show. Jon Stewart continues to be a genius behind his "Daily Show" news desk but was kind of a stinker guiding the Oscars telecast. David Letterman? The reigning king of crotchety late-night TV and one of the worst Oscar hosts in history. And let's not even talk about the five reality-show hosts who emceed the Emmys last year.
This year's Golden Globes, airing Sunday night, will be hosted by Ricky Gervais. While his creation of two hit TV shows — "The Office" and "Extras" — and long history as a stand-up comic isn't proof that he'll do a gut-busting job, his appearances at other awards show are. In fact, Gervais' performances at the past two Emmys shows are basically what got him the gig.
It all started in 2007, when Gervais won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for HBO's "Extras." The comedian couldn't be there to accept the award, so Steve Carell (who took on the "Office" role Gervais originated in Britain) collected the statue on his behalf. The next year, Gervais exacted his revenge. Up onstage, he started off with some zingers aimed at the crowd and himself before demanding Carell return the Emmy. The exchange turned from funny to uncomfortable as Gervais seemed to take the joke too far, veering off script and walking down into the audience to harass Carell.
"Gimme it!" he said. "Gimme the Emmy!"
Just when the audience started to squirm, Carell reached under his seat and handed over the trophy. It was all a joke, executed with deadpan perfection by the duo. And in many ways, it was Gervais' awards-show hosting audition.
The next year, Gervais was given the opportunity to present an award at the Emmys. He began by saying how happy he was to be surrounded by TV stars, rather than movie stars, because at the Emmys, his looks are "probably above average." The joke is the perfect encapsulation of what makes Gervais' comedic style so effective. He'll prop himself up at his target's expense, but he's really making fun of everyone, himself included.
He went on to make jokes about his success, his laziness and half the folks in attendance. It was truly great material. About a month later, he was awarded the Globes hosting job.
"Not only is this the biggest Hollywood celebration of the industry, which includes both film and TV, but also an environment where I feel I can get free reign as a host," Gervais said in a statement. "I have resisted many other offers like this, but there are some things you don't turn down."