“Remember, they are just jokes,” Ricky Gervais said in his opening monologue to the 2020 Golden Globes on Sunday night. “We are all going to die soon and there is no sequel. Remember that.” It was an unnecessary disclaimer; the now five-time Globes host is infamous for his provocative—or faux-provocative, depending on whom you ask—jabs at the Hollywood elite.
But he still managed to shock the crowd.
Whereas in the past Gervais’s performatively irascible zingers felt like your dad’s idea of transgressive, this time around the comedian—who ironically just embarked on a tone-deaf transphobic Twitter rant—had his knives out. “Kevin Hart was fired from the Oscars for some offensive tweets,” he said. “Lucky for me, the Hollywood Foreign Press can barely speak English. They have no idea what Twitter is.”
From there, Gervais jabbed at the obvious targets—Felicity Huffman and the evening’s vegan menu among them. But, refreshingly, he also went for the taboo, like celebrities’ ties to Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein. No matter where they hailed from, he asserted, the executives in attendance had “one thing in common: They are all terrified of Ronan Farrow. He’s coming for you.” And Gervais was coming for them too: “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg,” he said. “You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for—Apple, Amazon, Disney—if ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”
That’s not to say everything was in good taste. While Gervais initially dragged the Hollywood Foreign Press for not nominating more people of color in major categories, he then almost immediately made light of the matter: “We were going to do an in memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people who had died, it wasn’t diverse enough. It was mostly white people and I thought, Nah, not on my watch.” He came for Leonardo DiCaprio, for exclusively dating women 25 years old and younger. He came for James Corden, for being “a fat pussy” even before he starred in Cats. He even came for—gasp!—Dame Judi Dench. Some, like Tom Hanks, couldn’t take it. But others, like Gwyneth Paltrow, apparently couldn’t get enough. See their reactions and more of the most memorable, here.
Of all the celebrities who managed to remember that they were “just jokes,” Martin Scorsese stood apart. Eventually, Gervais got to making the point that celebrities who do Marvel movies have turned Hollywood into a steroid contest. Of course, you can’t mention Marvel without mentioning Martin Scorsese, which Gervais did by citing how the director likened the films to theme parks: “I agree. Although I don’t know what he’s doing hanging around theme parks. He’s not big enough to go on the rides. He’s tiny”—at which point it was Scorsese’s turn to agree.