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With back-to-back award shows making waves, there’s been a lot of talk about what it takes to be a good host. At their core, the host is the emcee who keeps the proceedings moving along while also entertaining the audience in the room and at home. It sounds easy enough, but it’s not. Hosts of big events like The Oscars, Grammys, Golden Globes and Emmys are juggling a lot of balls at once — something that often goes unappreciated.

In recent years, hosting has become the domain of a rotating roster of late night talk show hosts and stand up comics. However, not every comedian’s style can translate to awards hosting — something we saw with Jerrod Carmichael and Jo Koy at the last two Golden Globes. In fact, rumors circulated that Koy was not the Globes’ first choice, as they had been turned down by other comics. Even before the backlash Koy received from his controversial hosting stint, comedians were starting to think that the risk of hosting one of these shows isn’t worth the reward.
On Monday, Anthony Anderson hosted the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, and he was fine. Other than that weird “American Horror Story” bit, he didn’t do anything too controversial or scandalous and often making himself the punchline. When compared to Chelsea Handler’s button-pushing monologue at Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards, Anderson was pretty bland. So is the problem the gig, or do some hosts just know their strengths better than others?
As someone who watches a lot of award shows, I say it’s the latter. This isn’t the “Black-ish” star’s first rodeo, so he knows what’s going to work in the room and what won’t. Handler is also an experienced host who understands how to deal with the big names while they’re waiting to find out if they’ll receive trophies. The Jan. 7 Golden Globes was Koy’s first time and it showed.
At least one big star thinks it’s the events themselves that make the job so hard, which means he’s not planning to host any big shows anytime soon. Kevin Hart emphatically responded, “No, absolutely not,” when Sky News asked if he had plans to host The Oscars.
“Whatever level of hope you had, I want to destroy it right now…those gigs aren’t good gigs for comics,” Hart said. “It’s no shot to the Oscars, no shot to the Globes or anything else. Those just aren’t comedy-friendly environments anymore.”
Hart knows comedy better than I do, but saying award shows aren’t
“comedy-friendly” seems like a very generic statement. If you’re the host, isn’t part of your job making the room comedy-friendly? Also, there’s a difference between having fun with your famous friends to lighten the mood and straight up mocking people on the biggest night of their careers.
More than anything, it’s all about the approach to the event, and no one understands this better than Trevor Noah. He’s set to host the Grammys for the fourth straight year on Feb. 4, and he always brings a fun positivity to the event. He’s not punching down — Noah’s just there to make a few jokes and freak out over Harry Styles and Beyoncé. He’s not mocking anyone’s gender, race or sexuality...he’s just having a good time, which translates to viewers having a good time.
There’s definitely an argument to be made that different shows want different things from a host. However, just because the audience doesn’t want to hear you make off-color jokes about Barbie’s boobs or an actor’s romantic life doesn’t mean you can’t be funny or entertaining. There’s a balance to be found between insulting everyone and bland party host.
In the past, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, Kenan Thompson and Trevor Noah have all found it, so we need to stop acting like it’s the gig and not the comedian.