Over the last few years, the job of Oscar hosting has been derided as a no-win position. The ridicule usually seems to outweigh any positive attention the host might get. Hosting the Oscars does not lead to getting your own sitcom or launching new movies (but I’d still do it if they asked me to).
When it comes to Oscar ceremony reviewing, the Monday gossip rags typically go over a few awkward moments, some jokes that didn’t go over so well, and whether or not you’ve had plastic surgery.
So how do you turn this unenviable job into something that will entertain the audience and simultaneously enhance your own celebrity image?
1. Be a household name
This seems like a rule no one’s ever dared to break, but Seth MacFarlane is one of the least famous and least recognizable stars to the broader audience the Oscars hope to get. However since he has convinced Fox to hand him the keys to their Sunday night lineup, people may be used to seeing his name to actually want to see him more.
2. Spend your entire life mastering the following arts: Singing, dancing, acting, voice over, stand up…
Yoga wouldn’t hurt either. If you look at the most popular hosts of any awards show over the past decades, people like Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, and Billy Crystal. These are all people who worked mercilessly at perfecting their craft on multiple platforms. Imagine Russell Crowe taking Hugh Jackman’s place. Star power simply isn’t enough to carry you even half way through the opening number. We know Seth McFarlane can do all that, as he’s so often been eager to prove. And he can draw, too.
3. Be unreasonably likable, all the time
The best people have been extremely well-liked, not only by the public but also by peers. I once heard that the job of a movie star is to make everyone who sees them want to be them. It isn’t just about putting on a good show. You have to have legendary charisma. And Seth McFarlane might just have that level of charisma. Despite that he has a monopoly on new animated series, he should inspire a lot more jealousy in a town full of insecure writers. And yet he doesn’t. That bodes well for him.
4. Know everything about everyone
While you can hire joke writers from among the most grateful comedians who didn’t have to host the Oscars this year, you’ll still have to know the movies, the stars, and the big stories of the year. The bits won’t land if you don’t know the issues and why they’re funny. That’s a lot of prep work, especially for a guy with three shows on the air.
5. Be funny
It’s the one simple quality that will trump everything else on the list. The Oscars aren’t a nominee. We aren’t watching the Oscars to be sad (Les Miserables), to be uncomfortable (Silver Linings Playbook), to be wowed (Argo), or to be bored (Lincoln).
The Oscars should be fun and funny. Even the great hosts of the past who haven’t come from standup or comedy backgrounds have appreciated that. I don’t think MacFarlane is likely to forget it.