In opening the 2018 Golden Globe awards, Seth Meyers wasted no time addressing the somber subject on everyone’s minds. “Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen,” he grinned slash grimaced, breaking the ice as best he could.
Hosting the first awards show of 2018, Meyers had a daunting task ahead of him. How would he toe the line between entertaining the room and making light of the horrific systemic sexism that came to light in the fall of 2017, when allegations of sexual harassment and assault broke against Harvey Weinstein — and then, one after another, many other male Hollywood titans? How was he supposed to crack jokes while facing a sea of black dresses, worn in protest of sexual abuse in the workplace?
Luckily, Meyers has had plenty of experience walking a tricky tightrope as host of NBC’s Late Night, where he has to grapple daily with an avalanche of political chaos. He’s also proven himself to be more openly willing to admit when he, a straight white guy, can’t speak to certain experiences the way, say, his women writers can. So on Late Night, Meyers regularly features a segment called “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell,” in which he hands off the punchlines to writers Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel (who are black and gay, respectively).
And so toward the end of his Golden Globes monologue — which relied solely on punchlines instead of soft-shoeing his way through a song-and-dance number — Meyers brought “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” to the Golden Globes, setting up jokes and then handing off the punchlines to more fitting people out in the audience.
“The Golden Globes turns 75 this year…” Meyers began.
To which actress Jessica Chastain responded with a deadpan eyeroll, “…[but] the actress who plays his wife is still only 32.”
Then Meyers threw this setup to comedian Billy Eichner: “Call Me by Your Name is nominated for Best Motion Picture. It’s a gay coming-of-age film —”
“— said Kevin Spacey,” Eichner interrupted, “‘you lost me at ‘of age.’”
Meyers went on to congratulate Insecure creator and star Issa Rae for having “three projects in development” with HBO — to which Rae responded, “yeah … and three projects is also where they think I’m from.”
For Downsizing actress Hong Chau, Meyers began, “According to a recent article, only 5 percent of speaking roles in Hollywood are played by Asian actors —”
“— but those numbers might be off,” Chau interrupted, “because a white person did the math.”
Finally, Meyers tried to hand off a punchline to Amy Poehler, a former Golden Globes host and Meyers’s former SNL Weekend Update co-anchor. But Poehler, faux outraged at the idea that she would need a man’s help to make a joke at all, went ahead and delivered the punchline sans setup (“Said the peach in Call Me by Your Name, this scene is the pits!”).
As Meyers himself acknowledged, this was a year that might have been better served by having a woman host. But if it was going to be a man cracking jokes about systemic sexism and inequality in Hollywood, at least the gig went to one who knows when to hand the duty off to those more intrinsically capable of landing the punchlines.