How Seth Meyers Nailed The Toughest Awards Show Monologue In Years

Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal/Getty Images.
When Seth Meyers walked onstage at the 2018 Golden Globes Awards, the tension in the Beverly Hilton was palpable through the television screen. After a months-long Hollywood reckoning with the sexual harassment, coercion, and abuse long committed by its most powerful men, Meyers, a powerful man himself, would have to lead the first award show in the new #MeToo and #TimesUp world order. The Late Night host would essentially be the awards show emcee equivalent of “the first dog they shot into outer space,” as he joked in his monologue.
Despite the tight rope looming in front of Meyers, he still managed to nail his Globes opener, and that’s thanks to the comedian’s greatest strength: recognizing his boundless privilege and then checking it at the door.
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The greatest example of this winning tendency is Meyers and his writing team effort to repurpose fan-favorite Late Night bit “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” for an awards show arena. Usually, his dazzling writers Amber Ruffin, a Black woman, and Jenny Hagel, a Latina lesbian, spike the identity-specific punchlines Meyers sets up, since he, a straight white man, definitely can’t. For the Globes, Ruffin and Hagel came out to show face and hold the microphone for the celebrity attendees who took over controversial punchline duties. After perfecting the late-night tradition, the comediennes deserved the before-12:35 a.m.-spotlight.
Jessica Chastain criticized Hollywood’s habit of pairing, let’s say, “aging” men with wildly youthful women. Proud LGBTQIA advocate Billy Eichner, who often took shots at Kevin Spacey on his canceled Hulu gem Difficult People, criticized Spacey’s pedophilia accusations, and Issa Rae dragged Tinsel Town’s ingrained racism. To cap the entire bit, former Golden Globe host Amy Poehler playfully reclaimed her wine and poked fun at white guy Meyers for thinking she even needed him to set her up for a joke in the first place. The Parks And Rec star’s eventual Call Me By Your Name joke — the peach said that infamous scene was “the pits!” — proves Poehler was right.
Past a wonderful altered version of “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell,” there was the host’s necessary decision to mention entertainment’s largest alleged predators by name. There were no vague allusions here — only true call-outs. Meyers predicted Harvey Weinstein may be the first “In Memoriam” addition to get booed after his death and compared Woody Allen to the disgusting sea monster of The Shape Of Waterwithout any of the romantic appeal.
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Some of those comments elicited groans from the audience, but that’s the point: we all need to be uncomfortable for a little while. Without any boundary-pushing commentary nothing is going to change.
So, until the Major Awards Show Complex gives us a new woman host — Ruffins-Hagel for Golden Globes 2019! — Meyers is worth a more than a closer look.
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