One of the biggest questions of the Academy Awards every year that doesn’t revolve around who is going to win is, “Will the host of the show do a good job?” It’s a big question because the host of the show basically makes or breaks the entertainment value. If the host is uninteresting or bland, then the show will definitely feel every bit of its length. But if the host can at least bring a few laughs, then the show will feel a little bit shorter.
It’s a gig not many people want to do. Great common day stand-up comedians tend to shy away from it. Just look at how Eddie Murphy turned the whole thing down last year. Even though the reward for doing a good job on the show is the host gets to entertain their biggest audience in the world live, the risk is too big. A bad performance makes the host a pariah. An example is James Franco. He showed up, he wasn’t funny or enthusiastic, and the show was a mess. Anne Hathaway, who is usually always entertaining, was trying way too hard to carry the load and struggled because of it.
Hugh Jackman did his best and added musical numbers to the show. He performed well, but not many people think of Hugh Jackman as a comedic person. His most famous role is Wolverine. And Jon Stewart, who was actually pretty funny on the show, felt like he held back from all of his comedy. He didn't provide the same edginess he brings to "The Daily Show."
The Academy Awards in the past have gotten older comedians who know how to bring gravitas and tongue-in-cheek humor. Bob Hope could always get away with making fun of someone because of his comedy persona, and so could Billy Crystal. The Billy Crystal that hosted the in the 90s brought the perfect amount of self-appreciation and self-deprecation to the show. The show can’t always be about making everyone in the audience have a bigger ego. They have to politely be made fun of as well.
This brings me to Seth MacFarlane. He is probably at the height of his appeal, and coming off of a big comedy “Ted,” he has the high profile film to go along with it. But will his style of humor go too far for the show? If this was The Golden Globes I’d probably say he didn’t go far enough. The Golden Globes is a fun filled time. The Academy Awards seems to have an air of snobbishness above it.
So if MacFarlane brings his random and raunchy “Family Guy” routine to the show, I think he will alienate the older crowd, but actually bring younger people to the plate. MacFarlane makes fun of everybody, and no one in the audience will be safe. If MacFarlane treats the show like a roast, I think it will be much appreciated. The common people already think actors and directors are at a higher status in society. It would be nice to see that they can be made fun of as well without trying to destroy their lives (a la paparazzi).
The show has some promise for entertainment, but only if MacFarlane is able to implement his brand of humor. Otherwise he will just be a guy reading lame jokes like James Franco.