From the moment Ricky Gervais approached the podium at the Golden Globe Awards Sunday night, beer in hand, the tension was nearly palpable as every celebrity in the audience (and many watching at home) realized there was an excellent chance they would be verbally skewered over the next three hours.
And Gervais didn’t disappoint. Pointing out that this was the fourth time he had been asked to emcee the television and movie awards show, despite his past stints being labeled “controversial,” Gervais said Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Lorenzo Soria had threatened to personally come and pull him off the stage if he was too offensive. (Challenge accepted: Gervais later joked about using one of his three Golden Globe trophies as a … personal stimulant. “That was a joke about me shoving a Golden Globe that I’ve won up my a–,” he clarified, for anyone who didn’t immediately get the joke.)
Gervais kicked off the night (and immediately stoked the ire of trans-rights advocates on Twitter) with quips about Caitlyn Jenner and Transparent‘s Jeffrey Tambor, and didn’t let up from there. He even managed to get in a dig at NBC, noting that it was the only network that could “fairly and impartially” broadcast the Golden Globes because it was the only network without a single nomination, and also channeled viewers’ collective pain when he remarked at 10:20 p.m. about the show’s running time, “Kill me. No joke, this is ridiculous.”
Here are his 20 best celebrity burns from the night:
Sean Penn: After the revelation that Sean Penn’s secret interview with notorious Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” led to the kingpin’s arrest (!), you knew that Gervais wouldn’t be able to let the night slide by without a dig at the Oscar winner. Surprisingly, his reference came within the first minutes of the show and was rather tame. Gervais joked that after the show, he was ready to go into hiding so deep that “not even Sean Penn will find me … snitch.”
Caitlyn Jenner: “I’m gonna be nice tonight. I’ve changed. Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course. What a year she’s had. She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers, but you can’t have everything.”
Jeffrey Tambor: Speaking of his admiration for the Transparent star, Gervais said: “I’m not sure if that’s because he’s a great actor or he reminds me of my nan.”
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler: Joy star (and Globe nominee) Jennifer Lawrence “made the news when she demanded equal pay for women in Hollywood” this year, Gervais noted. “Of course women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job. I’d like to say now that I’m getting paid the exact same amount of money as Tina and Amy were last year. I know there’s two of them, but I can’t help if they want to share the money.”
Golden Globe winners in general: At the start of the night, Gervais cautioned future winners: “Remember that no one cares about that award as much as you do. Don’t get emotional. It’s embarrassing.” Paging Anne Hathaway…
HFPA President Lorenzo Soria: Yep, again. Bringing Soria to the stage (but not getting pulled off by him), Gervais said: “The Golden Globes doesn’t have an In Memoriam section to get you all depressed. Instead, we let the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press say a few words.”
America Ferrera and Eva Longoria: Really, it’s a dig at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, but Gervais described the Latin American actresses and co-presenters as “two people who your future president, Donald Trump, can’t wait to deport.”
Mel Gibson: The Golden Globes Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For came just under two hours into the broadcast. “A few years ago on this show, I made a joke about Mel Gibson getting a bit drunk and saying a few unsavory things. We’ve all done it,” Gervais noted. “But now I find myself in the awkward position of having to introduce him again. I’m sure it’s awkward for both of us, okay? And I blame NBC for this terrible situation. Mel blames … we know who Mel blames.” Later, searching for something nice to say about the actor, Gervais came up with: “I’d rather have a drink with him in his hotel room tonight than with Bill Cosby.” (After he embraced Gibson, Gervais’ inquiry, “What the f— does sugar t— mean?” was lost on home viewers thanks to NBC censors.)
How do you think Gervais did as host of the Golden Globes?