The headline message of the Banshees of Inisherin, one of the drama movies nominated for several Academy Awards, is that you should always try to be nice. It might not be particularly memorable or give you much of a legacy, but kindness towards others should always be our priority in life.
Unfortunately, that niceness doesn’t seem to extend to awards show presenters, with Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars being the latest example of what happens when you don’t know how to be funny, and so just choose to be kind of rude, instead.
Anyone who knows me knows that, at my core, I’m a hater. And that may be true, but one thing I won’t abide by is hating being a substitute for comedy, good presenting, and in some cases, a personality.
This time last year, everyone was clutching their pearls over Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on-stage. But despite the seemingly-unanimous insistence that this Oscars moment not overshadow another awards ceremony, Jimmy Kimmel just couldn’t stop talking about it.
There’s addressing the elephant in the room, I understand that. But if you’re still talking about it two and a half hours into the awards, then it isn’t just lazy comedy— it feels like a desperate grab at low-hanging fruit because you don’t know what else to talk about.
In fairness, I know that many awards show presenters have their jokes scripted, so Kimmel can’t be entirely blamed for bringing up The Slap every chance he had.
But what was even more painful than the constant ‘slap’ references was the other jokes they were punctuated with. Examples of the jokes made include ones that seemed to stereotype Irish people for violence, ones that appeared to make fun of Steven Spielberg’s dead mother, and, at one point, asking someone who was shot by the Taliban as a child what they thought about the Don’t Worry Darling drama.
Awards shows are always going to be a bit cringey, and have one or two jokes falling flat — in fact, if you’re a presenter and haven’t generated at least one awkward moment, you have arguably failed at one of the most fundamental tenants of your job.
Maybe I’ll be called ‘woke’ for questioning why so many of Kimmel’s jokes hinged on dunking on other people, but even if we move past the mean-spiritedness of his repetitive jokes, there’s also the argument that it didn’t pay off.
Whether the jokes were ad-libbed by Kimmel himself or scripted by a host of staff writers, the result was still crickets and tumbleweeds. I don’t think anyone in that audience so much as exhaled through their nose or uttered a singular guffaw in the entire time Kimmel was on-stage.
Clearly, getting backhanded by a Best Actor winner wasn’t enough to discourage hosts from relying on personal jibes for humour. But hopefully, the sheer lack of interest in unfunny jokes this year was enough of a slap in the face on its own.
If you want stuff that’s actually funny, here’s our recommendations on some of the best new movies, comedy movies, and comedy series you should check out.