BY TARQUIN SUTHERLAND
It was a bloodletting like no other witnessed in recent times – if ever, in the modern age. For seven and a half minutes, the great and the good of Hollywood sat transfixed and slack-jawed at the sight of Ricky Gervais; treating the entire Hollywood construct – the studios, stars and execs, and in a wider sense the whole of the Liberal Californian elite – with the kind of undisguised and utter contempt that the rest of the world outside of their fetid, self-congratulatory bubble know they so richly deserve.
One can imagine the frantic scrambling in the gantry as the camera swung wildly back and forth across the audience as the Director desperately sought to find a familiar face that wasn’t either aghast at what they were witnessing, or nervously giggling like the child that’s been caught red-handed and knows not how to respond.
In a searing and scintillating seven and a half minutes, Gervais tore them to shreds one after the other in a trademark, self-deprecating display of nonchalant bravado that must surely have scuppered any chance of him gaining any further employment inside the incestuous Hollywood machine.
He opened, softening them up perhaps, with a few well-aimed jibes at the press and at himself – at one point appearing to be channelling the late, great Bill Hicks in reminding the assembled dignitaries of Tinseltown of their own mortality and taking a swift sideswipe at the recently incarcerated Felicity Huffman. One could almost sense the thin ice Gervais had immediately decided to skate out over beginning to crack as Tom Hanks’ face flashed up on the screen sporting an ‘oh no he dint!?’ look that was all set to point the way for the mayhem to follow…
Deftly turning on a proverbial sixpence, Ricky didn’t miss a beat in then lulling the audience into a fleeting sense of security with some soft gags at the expense of the Italian American contingent, and even – ever topical – Baby Yoda himself, before a beautifully-conceived bait-and-switch giving all those multi-millionaires that make their living behind the cameras a quick nod before dropping them off a cliff edge in mentioning the son of Hollywood Royalty Ronan Farrow, son of Mia and the journalist at the centre of uncovering the Harvey Weinstein scandal. “He’s coming for ya…” said Ricky and again the Director scrambled for an audience shot and failed miserably.
He didn’t let up and with magnificent timing he unleashed the Big Guns: “Talking of all you perverts – it was a big year for paedophile movies…”. The camera studiously stuck with a shot of Our Ricky, (as he surely MUST now be referred to) – the camera, along with the audience by now, simply didn’t know where to look.
If a picture was ever worth a thousand words, it was the sight of Jonathan Pryce desperately attempting to raise a wry smile in the face of this onslaught and failing miserably — if THAT was the best shot on offer from the auditorium, one can only imagine the twisted grimaces on offer from the rest.
Gervais then moved onto taking aim at the Hollywood hypocrisy of liberal politics by trashing their notions of ‘diversity’ in their faces without missing a beat. And by this time the stunned reaction was slowly turning to one of anger, as evidenced by the chap sitting just behind a gobsmacked Tom Hanks’ left shoulder who was sporting his very best ‘if looks could kill’ look to no avail as Ricky rubbed their faces in the fact that this was his fifth appearance hosting the show.
Gervais then spoke for all of us with regard to the output of the Hollywood studios over the last half decade or so and their failure to keep pace with online streaming services before dropping the Epstein bomb. “Shut up…” he admonished the audience “… I know he’s your friend!” Brilliant. By now heads must have been exploding in the gallery… just where could that camera point that wasn’t a devastating admission of guilt?
One has to hand it to Gervais, his comic instinct last night was honed to devastating effect, and in leaving that Trillion Dollar audience not even a chance to catch their breath, he quickly and expertly dismantled all that is wrong with the Hollywood machine in a few short sentences that might be summed up as ‘we’ve seen it ALL before!’
A bravura performance. Impeccable, and the perplexed and speechless face of Tom Hanks at the very close must surely have summed up the overall feeling in the room… he looked glad it was over. It’s a shame they don’t give awards for the best award ceremony host as, on the basis of Ricky Gervais’ performance last night, he would have won it hands down.