Jo Koy probably won’t be back as Golden Globes host in 2025, but whatever his future may hold, good luck hiring writers after Sunday’s staff was thrown under the Greyhound.

With the Golden Globes still recovering from scandal, Koy faced an uphill battle. The wounds are so fresh that some winners thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association; the HFPA was disbanded over a lack of diversity. The Globes didn’t even have a real ceremony in 2022, but returned to TV last year.

Koy’s opening monologue was weak. (IndieWire TV critic Ben Travers called it “a catastrophe;” our Proma Khosla went with “lukewarm.”) Even weaker were his multiple attempts to save face.

From the start, it was clear that Koy was out of his element. Comics who sell out theaters, like Koy, are used to performing for people who specifically paid to see them. This room was not that. As Koy was quick to point out, he was also booked on short notice.

Koy, like most comics, is also not used to reading a teleprompter. It is a skill and can throw off stand-ups who usually have established sets committed to memory. (Very generally speaking, a comic at Koy’s level will work out a set for about a year, release it as a televised special, and start the cycle all over again with new material.)

Not surprisingly, Koy tripped over a word here and there as he navigated the circular stage and the intimidating room. Finding celebrities, cameras, and the prompter is a juggling match. At one time, Koy half-swallowed a key “Ryan” (Gosling) swerve at the end of a “Barbie” joke — the very part that made it a decent misdirection joke.

“I don’t want you guys to think that I’m a creep, but it was kind of weird being attracted to a plastic doll,” Koy said. “It’s just something about your eyes, Ryan.”

The camera’s cut to Gosling saved that one enough.

Hollywood magic can’t fix everything. The main problem was Koy’s material, which contained lodestones like this one: “‘Oppenheimer’” is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project. And ‘Barbie’ is based on a plastic doll with big boobies.”

A joke reliant on “boobies” wasn’t well-received nor should it have been; in theory, grownups comprise the intended Golden Globes audience. The joke also isn’t recognizably correct since the classic Barbie doll’s design is debated for its impossible proportions that center on her nonexistent waist.

Koy had already lost the room with two-thirds of the monologue still to go. That’s when the finger-pointing kicked in — from the performer himself.

When an “Oppenheimer”-is-long run didn’t go over as intended, Koy punctuated the final punchline with a seemingly self-deprecating “that’s so stupid.” Unfortunately, the deprecation didn’t stay on the self.

Following the Gosling cutaway, Koy had this one chambered: “The key moment in ‘Barbie’ is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite, and flat feet. Or, what casting directors call: ‘Character Actor.’”

It’s an OK joke (though the cellulite part is polarizing at best in 2024) and Koy seemed to get a kick out of it, but his audience did not. He then filled in the dead air with, “Some I wrote, some other people wrote.”

The non sequitur got a laugh. It was a decent save — good comedians have those in their toolkit. Seasoned comics like Koy can win back an audience with asides that seem spontaneous, though often aren’t. It’s a skill that can send hecklers into the night, but it can also be overused.

Koy remained off script. “Yo, I got the gig 10 days ago! You want a perfect monologue?” he asked a crowd that probably did want a perfect monologue.

A quick fact check: Koy was publicly announced as Golden Globes host 18 days ago, which still qualifies as short notice. Last year’s host Jerrod Carmichael was announced a month ahead of time; this year’s Primetime Emmys host Anthony Anderson got a month as well. Jimmy Kimmel was announced as host of the March 2024 Oscars in November 2023.

“Yo, shut up,” Koy continued to no one inparticular, still riding whatever cheap laughter remained. “You’re kidding me right? Slow down.”

And then it fully stopped being funny. “I wrote some of these and they’re the ones that you’re laughing at,” he said.

That last part may or may not be true, and each of these saves were (to some degree, at least) certainly said in jest. Koy is generally perceived as a nice guy and a good comic — his humor, like his 2022 movie “Easter Sunday,” centers on his Filipino family. He works with personal material; awards shows call for roast jokes that emanate from the content being honored and amplify pop culture.

A tweet from Patrick Doran

Several members of an awards show’s writing staff are backstage throughout the evening, available to punch-up existing jokes and jot down new ad libs for the host. Those folks probably weren’t thrilled about Koy taking credit for what worked and passing the buck on what didn’t.

Koy’s remark was defensive and rude, and not the save he seemed to think it was. An awards show’s host handpicks his or her writers and has final say on the monologue jokes. Even if you didn’t write ’em, Jo, you chose ’em.

The blame game continued. Koy next turned on the audience for not laughing hard enough at back-to-back jokes he deemed “hilarious.” In reality, both of the jokes — one about the cultural appropriation of the “Killers of the Flower Moon” material and the other a dick joke about Barry Koeghan in “Saltburn”/the Ken doll’s flat front/Bradley Cooper’s nose in “Maestro” — were poorly constructed. They didn’t get laughs because they weren’t clear.

Mercifully, the monologue did come to an end, but not before Koy finished right where he started: Meryl Streep.

A stand-up comedy set usually puts the best joke goes last, the second-best joke first, and so on until the bits meet in the middle. The concept is based on opening strong and leaving them wanting more. This… was not that.

Koy closed by prompting Streep to do the “Wakanda Forever” salute from “Black Panther,” seemingly just because he thought it would be funny to see Meryl Streep do the “Wakanda Forever” salute. The closer was no stronger than his opener, a joke about Streep winning a lot of awards. The joke, basically: Meryl Streep wins a lot of awards.

But when she loses, you know what Meryl Streep doesn’t do? Blame her writers.

Leave a comment