Jimmy Fallon Makes for an Oddly Tone-Deaf Golden Globes Host
There’s been plenty of groaning about Jimmy Fallon hosting this year’s Golden Globe awards, not least because many people are still angry with the Tonight Show host for playing cutesy with Donald Trump during his horrifyingly successful presidential campaign. So there was some serious winning-over to be done by Fallon—who has always seemed perpetually eager to please and determined to be liked—when the Globes began Sunday night.
Fallon opening the broadcast with an extended, star-heavy La La Land spoof/homage (an homage to an homage!) makes sense, then. People who’ve seen the film tend to love it; it inspires warm and sentimental feelings; and we all know that Jimmy Fallon loves a song-and-dance routine. But the movie has only been in wide release for one weekend, so the bit may not have had the broad appeal that a similar kind of thing would at the Oscars, when there will have been an extra six weeks for viewers to catch up on nominated films. Still, the opening was impressively staged, and the lineup of cameos—Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, the cast of The People v. O.J. Simpson—was a fun, starry sampling of this year’s nominees. The sketch had, however, worn out its welcome by the time Ryan Reynolds and Justin Timberlake showed up for some gay-panic humor. For a once-promising opening sequence, one that was heavily touted by NBC during its red-carpet coverage, it sure ended with a thud.
Then Fallon came out to do his opening monologue, a form raised to a high art by recent Globes hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, and . . . his teleprompter broke. So he had to vamp, doing his stuttering, “oh gosh” Jimmy Fallon thing for a uncomfortable minute or two. It was halting and awkward; Fallon seemed surprisingly uneasy doing improv on live television. Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better when a new teleprompter was set up. Fallon made a few Trump jokes—mentioning the popular vote, comparing Trump to Joffrey from Game of Thrones—which didn’t land well. Fallon is still too tainted by his hair-ruffling antics to turn around and try to get in on the Trump fatalism. It felt unearned—and a bit hypocritical.
From bad to more bad, Fallon later broke out his Chris Rock impression, imagining what that caustic comedian would say about The People v. O.J. Simpson. The joke that no winners from the show would thank Simpson himself during their speeches was funny, and a good approximation of Rock’s joke structure. But, eesh, it was ugly to watch a white guy imitating a black man’s voice, especially coming from Fallon, during this particular political moment. And it just kept going.
In general, the monologue was unpleasant. The jokes were stale and wheezy and Fallon’s lovable-cute shtick was more wearying than it was charming. Watching the show, I almost (almost) missed Ricky Gervais and his glass of beer. At least his barbs had an occasional, decorum-unsettling jolt.
As is often true of Globes hosts, Fallon didn’t do much after the monologue. Among other wan bits, he performed an awkward rap thing when introducing Michael Keaton and said “Laugh-In Inside Amy Schumer” while introducing Schumer and Goldie Hawn, which is barely even a joke. If Fallon was trying to win back some in the wake of his Trump disaster, this was not his night. Of course, Fallon has a legion of loyal fans, not to mention plenty of willing celebrity playmates—so maybe a lackluster Golden Globes–hosting job doesn’t mean much. Still, it wasn’t great for the viewer.
Then again, not all was lost Sunday night. Kristen Wiig and Steve Carell’s hilarious extended bit while introducing the best-animated-film award was a bright spot. More of that kind of thing—weird, inspired, clever without smirking—would have been appreciated on Hollywood’s second-glitziest night.