Tina Fey and Amy Poehler killed it.
This seems indisputable. From their interludes as the fake nominees Darcy St. Fudge and Damian Fransisco to their zinger of a foray into the Zero Dark Thirty torture debate, they provided the night’s freshest and funniest moments. When the only complaint out of my living-roomful of Golden Globes viewers was that the hosts weren’t onscreen enough, you know they got something right.
But Poehler and Fey did better than just spouting out a succession of zingers, which Ricky Gervais did for three years on the Globes before them. They did better than just banter, which Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood do at the Country Music Awards. I would venture they did even better than Neil Patrick Harris’s always delightful turn at the helm of the Tony Awards.
What set Poehler and Fey apart as hosts was their ease. No amount of sequins or hairspray or hype could disguise the sense that their patter could have just as easily happened on a stage at Second City or in a dressing room at SNL as it did in a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton. They seemed to both not need this gig and also be thrilled to have it; as anyone who caught James Franco’s work hosting Oscars can attest, this is a hard balance to achieve.
And yet Fey and Poehler more than managed it. They were not desperate to please but were instead effortlessly pleasing. Their jokes never swerved into corny or cruel, the unpleasant twin poles of most awards show patter. Their comfort with themselves and with their material was so palpable and so comforting that all other awards hosts now seem hopelessly stiff in comparison. A popular suggestion I heard was that Poehler and Fey should just clear their schedules and host everything. It’s hard not to agree.