March 5, 2010 -- When you think back to Academy Awards ceremonies over the years, you might not remember what Julia Roberts wore or who won for best supporting actor, but you probably remember the hosts, particularly if they made you laugh and kept the show moving along.
This Sunday, for the first time in 23 years, the hosting duties will be handled by more than one person. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will share the stage.
The last time multiple hosts helmed the Oscars was 1987 when Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan did it, but never in the ceremony's 82-year history have there been just two co-hosts.
Martin's got experience under his belt, having hosted in 2001 and 2003, but it will be Baldwin's first turn on the Oscar stage.
"I've hosted twice before alone and they felt I needed help," Martin quipped.
"They felt it didn't go so well," said Baldwin.
The show's producers think the pairing of Baldwin and Martin harkens back to some of the great comedy teams of film -- Abbott and Costello, or Martin and Lewis.
"I think the Oscars are going to be intelligent, charming, urbane," said Baldwin.
"And then we'll be there," Martin added.
With an average audience of over 36 million in the U.S. and hundreds of millions of others around the globe, there is a lot of pressure on the pair to do well. Martin, the experienced host, thinks he's ready.
"The first time I did it, I was very nervous ahead of time," he said. "Second time I did it I was less nervous, although I still stood backstage, standing in front of a mirror alone, and they're just about to introduce you and you go, 'How did I, what did I, what am I doing?' But I think this time will be fine. I'll put everything on him."
Persons of the Week: Oscar Hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin
Baldwin never may have hosted the ceremony before, but he has another kind of Oscar experience that Martin's never had. He was nominated for best supporting actor back in 2004 for his role in "The Cooler."
"When you're nominated, it's very thrilling and very flattering, and it's tough, you know, to get up that hill and have a film considered and for you to be chosen," he said. "And I didn't win. Tim Robbins won for 'Mystic River' that night."
"Thank God you don't even remember," Martin said.
"I've blocked it out of my mind," Baldwin said.
If the two have witty back-and-forth down, it could be because they recently worked together in the movie "It's Complicated." Their co-star, Meryl Streep, is nominated for her role in another film -- Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."
Martin and Baldwin also both are known as frequent "Saturday Night Live" hosts. Martin holds the record with 15 "SNL" hosting gigs, but Baldwin is close behind with 14.
Tips From Past Hosts
With two days to go until the big show, the co-hosts' plans are a big secret. But in case they're looking for last-minute help, here are a few pointers from past hosts:
A host should give good advice, as Paul Hogan did in 1987, saying the key to speeches is to "be grateful, be gracious, get off."
He should play to his audience, as five-time host Johnny Carson always did. "I see a lot of new faces, especially on the old faces," Carson famously told his celebrity audience in 1978.
Always remember: It's Hollywood, so you never know where your next job is coming. Ellen DeGeneres demonstrated that when she hosted in 2007 and took the chance to slip a script to Martin Scorsese.
Be nimble on your feet, just as David Niven was in 1974. When a man unexpectedly streaked naked across stage, he told the audience, "Probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings."
Don't try too hard to force a joke, as David Letterman did in 1995 with his "Oprah, Uma" moment. Some say the late-night comic still is living that mistake down.
And please, make us laugh.