I was delighted by the news that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will be hosting the 2013 Golden Globes. Ricky Gervais was the closest thing that awards ceremony has had to a regular host—before Gervais, the Globes trotted out a series of presenters to carry the show from award to award—and his sour, self-regarding shtick wore thin before his third stint this year. It’s definitely time for something new, but hosting awards shows is a notoriously tricky business. Here’s some advice for my two favorite lady-bros:
1. You’re both funny. That’s not enough: Remember how well the dream team of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin did hosting the Oscars? Me neither. Individually, Baldwin and Martin are uproarious. Baldwin alone probably could have handled the hosting gig if he’d approached it as a Jack Donaghy impersonation, his martinis and tuxedo fixation allowing the presenters around him to relax and be a bit less formal in contrast. But together, they were a wash. Poehler and Fey should figure out what the sum of their parts is going to be before they get on stage—something they must have done while trying to perfect their two-woman Weekend Update routine—or risk being less funny together than they each are on their own.
2. Trying too hard is a sure fail—especially if you’re a woman: One of the most notorious hosting flubs in recent years was the Anne Hathaway and James Franco experiment, cooked up to inject some youth into the Academy Awards. Franco’s bizarre apathy was blamed on everything from the possibility that he was high to a simple disinterest in the proceedings, but at least it fit with the public’s sense that he’d been thumbing his nose at Hollywood conventions for years. Or that everything for him is performance art. Hathaway, desperate to make up for his lack of energy or respect for the proceedings, mugged her way through the evening, and got much worse reviews than did her partner, simply for the sin of trying.
3. Don’t use the ceremony to air your personal grievances: The one misstep Fey’s ever made on an awards stage came at the Golden Globes in 2009, when she declared in her acceptance speech for her Best Comedy Actress trophy: “If you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet. You can find a lot of people there who don’t like you. I’d like to address some of them now. BabsonLacrosse, you can suck it. DianeFan, you can suck it. Cougar Letter, you can really suck it ’cause you’ve been after me all year.” It was funny, but betrayed a certain insecurity. As hosts, Poehler and Fey should be careful not to let themselves get pulled down by any anxieties, and Fey in particular should lose her whole ugly duckling shtick. They got tapped for this gig because they’re awesome—they should project that all evening.
4. Don’t let the producers focus too much on your gender—and if they do, make sure it’s funny: At the 2011 Emmys, the nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series were lined up like beauty pageant contestants and the winner, Melissa McCarthy, got a crown from the presenters. The presentation belittled the work of the talented women and, while presumably aiming to satirize our beauty obsessed pop culture, actually fed into it. I’ll be very, very happy if Poehler and Fey drop some knowledge about women and the entertainment industry. They just need to keep the feminism tough and biting. No one wants to see a watered-down version of this great comedic duo.