Did Ricky Gervais Fall Flat at Golden Globes?

PHOTO: Ricky Gervais (l), and Jodie Foster, are seen during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Jan. 15, 2012, in Los Angeles, Calif.PlayPaul Drinkwater/NBC/AP Photo
WATCH Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes Zingers

For all the hype, Ricky Gervais seemed to play it safe at Sunday night's Golden Globes.

That's the consensus among critics even if the British comedian is giving himself rave reviews and a magazine poll showed that most respondents found him "hilarious."

"The crowd was with me this time. They went where I went," Gervais told Deadline.com. "It's like they were ready for me this time and it felt pitch-perfect."

NBC was also backing its host for the third year in a row.

"I think he scored," Paul Telegdy, the NBC executive in charge of the Globes telecast, told Deadline. "I believe people were prepared after last year, but I would say that he was as disruptive and intrusive this year. I can't see how he could have been more outrageous."

Critics found plenty of ways he was lacking.

"If somebody told Ricky Gervais not to offend anyone when he hosted the Golden Globes telecast Sunday night, it pretty much worked," the New York Daily News' David Hinckley wrote. "Now if only the same memo had reminded him to still be funny."

Deadline's Nikki Finke was more direct, writing during her live blog that the host "stunk."

"I'm truly embarrassed for Ricky Gervais that he felt the need to blow so much smoke up George Clooney's a**," Finke wrote. "He's killing his career right now."

Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker also said Gervais "sucked up" to Clooney and his barbs didn't pay off.

"His more aggressive laugh lines missed by being so random, as when he accused presenter Colin Firth of being "racist,'" Tucker wrote. "And a 'Like A Virgin' joke regarding Madonna? Sheesh."

British newspaper The Telegraph seemed to agree.

"His monologue had its share of barbs, but it fell short of the standard for which Gervais is known, and came nowhere close to last year's acerbic tone that had everyone debating his performance afterward. This year, he played it safe," the newspaper's review said.

Huffington Post's Michael Russnow put some of the blame on the audience, which seemed prepared for Gervais' slings.

"From the outset, when he first appeared to a polite round of applause of quite short duration, he seemed very uneasy in spite of his previously announced bravado. Even the audience had muted expressions on their faces from nothing at all to forced smiles, and responded with only limited displays of laughter," Russnow said.

Few rose to his bait, with the notable exception of Madonna, who fired back: "If I'm still just like a virgin, Ricky, then why don't you come over here and do something about it?" She paused. "I haven't kissed a girl in a few years ... on TV."

Not everyone was down on Gervais. In a People magazine online poll, 89 percent of voters thought Gervais was "hilarious" with only 11 percent believing he "crossed the line" during the show.

Here are a few of Gervais' zingers:

"I musn't mention Mel Gibson this year. Not his private life, not his politics, not his recent films, and especially not Jodie Foster's 'Beaver.' I haven't seen it myself," at which point Foster gave a thumbs up. After a beat, he said: "I've spoken for a lot of guys here, they haven't seen it either. But that doesn't mean it's not any good."

Foster did not look entirely pleased.

Gervais had started off with one for NBC.

"Tonight you get Britain's biggest comedian, hosting the world's second-biggest awards show, on America's third biggest network … (beat) Sorry, fourth."

Later on in the monologue, he came to reality-TV queen Kim Kardashian.

"The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton. Bit louder, bit trashier, bit drunker. And more easily bought. Allegedly."

Low-hanging fruit, but Gervais collected it well.

On to Justin Bieber:

"The only way that he could have impregnated a girl is if he borrowed one of Martha Stewart's turkey basters."

Gervais, sharing the stage with Johnny Depp, had a question: "Have you seen 'The Tourist' yet?"

"Uh … no," Depp, star of the movie, mumbled in response.

And this one:

"There's a pecking order here," Gervais explained. "TV 'round the edge. Movie stars in the middle."

Then he introduced George Clooney, a "rare" person who "managed to move all the way from the back, when he was on 'ER,' to right down the front."

The ol' seven-second delay came in handy when Gervais, introducing Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, said he couldn't "understand a f******g word they say."

As for Colin Firth:

"What you don't know about him is, is he's very racist. Very. I mean, really, nasty stuff. Also, I've seen him punch a little blind kitten. Please welcome the evil Colin Firth."

And with that, out came Firth.