Golden Globes host Jo Koy’s monologue was received poorly by both those in the room and many watching at home, but fellow comedians shared sympathy for their fellow comic — while also expressing discontent with his choice to blame his writers for the widely panned performance.
Comedian Laurie Kilmartin, who also hosts a podcast about the craft of comedy and wrote on “Conan,” was one of the prominent insider voices rising to Koy’s defense.
“This is a TERRIBLE gig, this audience sucks,” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the job Koy himself noted he was just hired for 10 days prior. “They’re famous, nervous and humorless, and 10 days is genuinely not enough time to write about 500 jokes, which is how many you need to find 15 suitable jokes.”
“She is right, if not lowballing it a little,” comedian Eliza Skinner told TheWrap. “It’s a wildly specific crowd — huge celebrities that are braced to be roasted on camera. You can see it on their faces — they’re like, ‘Oh f–k, what now’ as soon as they’re on camera.”
“Those people in that audience do not want to be made fun of,” famed radio host Howard Stern said on his show Monday. “They’re very concerned about their image and their publicist. I mean, if you’re shelling out 25, 30 percent of your income on publicists and agents, you don’t wanted to be goofed on on television.”
That’s why awards show hosting can be a somewhat thankless job, as well as one of the toughest tightrope walks on television.
“The job isn’t just ‘tell funny jokes’ — it’s find a way to crack that very tough room and get them to laugh with you,” Skinner said. “Personally, I think that takes getting the crowd to trust you. But I think nowadays, a lot of comics miss that.”
Just three writers were credited at the end of the broadcast, one of whom was also one of the show’s executive producers, with three others receiving credit for “special material.” There are often uncredited writers who contribute to awards show monologues, but it still appeared to be an understaffed effort.
“You need a ton of writers for a good monologue,” Skinner said. “You need union TV comedy writers, who are dedicated to just writing (not also directing or producing the show). I wonder how many that show had. Awards shows often cut corners on that these days because they are so invested in the celebrity power of the show, they think that’s all they need.”
Koy didn’t do himself favors by being seen as throwing his writers under the bus, though, as he made a point to note as things went awry that he’s the one who wrote the jokes actually drawing laughs. Comedy writer Ben Siemon was one of numerous writers, both in and outside of comedy, who called Koy out for the choice:
Kilmartin called it “a panic move.”
Comedy writer Danielle Koenig wrote on X, “As an awards show writer I was insulted. Dick move.” She was also one of the comics who noted that the host usually has approval over which jokes they decide to tell on the show. “You approved all these jokes, a–hole,” Koenig wrote.
There’s also the question of whether Koy was well-served by the show’s producers. It’s a tough enough role for anyone, but perhaps particularly for someone whose comedy isn’t normally in the form of a monologue.
“Telling topical monologue jokes is VERY different from doing story-oriented standup,” Kilmartin wrote. “It’s a completely different timing and emotional stance onstage.”
She added, “Producers! It is literally impossible for any standup to say no to a gig. We risk our lives to do two unpaid spots at different clubs on the same night, so we will say YES to a show that we aren’t right for, esp if it pays 50k+ or whatever.”
Kilmartin credited Koy for being brave in the face of a room that wasn’t buying in.
But roast comedy isn’t what Koy’s known for. Trying to match high-profile performances like the multiple years hosted by Ricky Gervais, which gave the show some of its modern reputation, is tough.
“After all the years of roast-y hosting that has gotten press, they think funny, edgy, outrageous,” Skinner said. “And if that’s your philosophy — if that’s what you’re going to do — you can’t care if they don’t like you. … You can’t jab them and then be upset they’re sore.”
Stern pointed to other comedians, including Chris Rock, reportedly turning down the gig before they landed on Koy. That contributed to Koy getting such little prep time before the show.
“Those shows are f–king difficult to do,” Stern said. “No one else in Hollywood wanted the f–king gig. … I’ve talked to Jimmy [Kimmel] about this, and he does such a great job with the Academy Awards. He prepares for like six months.”
Stern added, “Standing up there and telling those jokes to a bunch of people who don’t want to be laughed at is the biggest bummer in the world.”
Koy clearly took the reaction personally, firing back at the crowd when they didn’t respond. He talked about it in interviews Monday, saying that the reaction hurt.
Comedian Amanda Cohen noted on X that the difference between Koy and some of the show’s previous superstar hosts is that they have the high-level clout to pull in big comedy writers to support them — as well as getting more time to prepare. Kilmartin pointed out that, given their level of stardom, recent hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler likely knew many of the stars in attendance, likely helping them to win a warmer reception.
In the end, the job may just be one that means a comedian is going to take a beating if they agree to it. As comedian Martha Kelly pointed out on X, “If David Letterman bombed hosting an awards show you know it’s an impossible gig.”
“I am appreciative that every week y’all find out just how hard it is to be a good stand-up comedian,” comic Jay Jurden wrote.