DeGeneres poses with her writers

David Letterman, your reign of error is over. Ellen DeGeneres is now the worst Oscar host ever.
DeGeneres mailed it in Sunday in a performance that at best could be called minimal. Much of her involvement with the three-and-a-half hour broadcast looked like a rehearsal.
The daytime talk show host skipped what has become the norm at these things, the elaborated movie montage where the host interacts with clips from that year’s nominated films. Ever since Billy Crystal started doing his shtick, that’s been pretty much a must-do for Oscar hosts. It was fine that DeGeneres sat that part out. It is a little played out, plus this year’s films didn’t exactly lend themselves to song and dance routines. Hard to fit a chorus line into 12 Years a Slave.

Oscar 86: more about glam than gags

The comedienne started out fine. She goofed on the weather. “It’s been a tough couple of days for us here. It has been raining. We’re fine. Thanks for your prayers.”
Most of DeGeneres’ jokes had a surprising edge to them. She suggested Lisa Minnelli was a man, which seemed a little mean. She joked about Academy racism then introduced Anne Hathaway as “the first white presenter of the night.”
It was the rest of the night where DeGeneres behaved almost as if she had made a bet with other comedians that she could do the rest of the show ad lib, without rehearsing. She was generally down in the auditorium, kibitzing with Meryl Streep, offering lottery tickets to other stars.
The whole pizza thing was a miss. She joked that the celebs must be hungry so she ordered pizza. When it arrived she had it passed out and then went looking for Harvey Weinstein to pay for it. The bit went on way past 30 minutes so the pizza should have been free.
There was no comedy presenter pairings to liven up the night, no Steve Carell, Seth Rogan or Will Ferrell moments. Jim Carrey tried and did his Bruce Dern impersonation from 30 years ago. DeGeneres had one funny costume change where she dressed up as the Good Witch after a Wizard of Oz tribute (which reunited Judy Garland’s kids sitting together in the audience, something the director dwelled on for about half a second).
DeGeneres made a point of doing half-assed reads off TelePrompTers in her intros but, really, it just came off as if she was pissed at the Academy for not asking her to host the past seven years and was determined to do as little as possible on the night.
In a way, the host’s monologue doesn’t matter anymore because all the Oscar comedy has shifted over to Twitter. There, thousands of professional and unprofessional joke tellers snark away throughout the long night. For example:

Gravity has won all these awards and not one person has thanked sir Isaac newton
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) 

Watching The Oscars is a bit like watching an all-star edition of Fox’s The Swan.
— Joe Adalian (@TVMoJoe) 

How many viewers are 20 feet from bed?
— Alan Pergament (@StillTalkinTV)

Sometimes the Twitter feed is good for insight as well as laughs. Like this tweet from Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan after Ellen’s stunt where she shot a selfie in the audience with a dozen Hollywood stars. The shot got referenced half the night as it unfortunately became the most-tweeted photograph ever. Levitan spoke for me, at least, when he tweeted:

I kinda wish #TheOscars cared a little less about Twitter.
— Steve Levitan (@SteveLevitan)

Or my favouite tweet of the night:

I don’t know how much longer I can take this bullshit – so terrible!#Oscars— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Naturally, yours truly had to get in on the act:

Shouldnt the guys from Helium speak in high squeaky voices?#Oscars— Bill Brioux (@BillBriouxTV) 

I thought #Gravity lacked atmosphere #Oscars— Bill Brioux (@BillBriouxTV) 

I’m surprised DeGeneres didn’t just read tweets live for her monologue, she certainly flashed that Samsung mobile device long enough to get a crate full sent to her later.
Maybe she was going for minimal and ironic and certainly guys like Steve Martin have gone down that path in the past. Sunday night, however, it just came off as lazy. It is Oscar night, dammit, put on a show, be a trooper.


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