If the Academy had gotten its way, this year’s Oscars would have featured a “popular” movie category, four trophies handed out off screen, a running time of less than three hours with just two Best Original Song performances and comedian Kevin Hart as host. Hollywood wasn’t having any of it.
It’s been 30 years since the Oscars last went host-less, and for good reason. Perhaps the most thankless job in show business, the host nonetheless can serve as a steady hand to guide viewers through what could be a night of awkward transitions. The opening monologue jokes—beloved by Hollywood obsessives, despised by Fox & Friends—help set the tone for what could feel like a somber parade of tearful thank yous.
Without the benefit of a comedian at the helm Sunday night, the Oscars opened with a raucous performance by Queen, with Adam Lambert taking Freddie Mercury’s place to belt out “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” For a moment, it seemed as though they had given up on comedy altogether.
But then Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph emerged from backstage. Were they the show’s secret co-hosts?
“Good evening and welcome to the one-millionth Academy Awards!” Fey said. “We are not your hosts. But we’re going to stand here a little too long so that the people who get USA Today tomorrow will think that we hosted.”
“So, just a quick update, in case you’re confused,” Rudolph said. “There is no host tonight, there won’t be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall.”
“That’s right,” Poehler added. “And we won’t be doing awards during the commercials, but we will be presenting commercials during the awards. So if all the winners could please say ‘Hellman’s mayonnaise: we’re on the side of food’ instead of speeches, that would be great.”
After a handful of deliberately lame jokes, including Rudolph asking Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, “Wakanda plans do you have later?” Fey exclaimed, “Everyone, look under your you’re seats, you’re all getting one of those cheese sandwiches from the Fyre Festival!”
With that, they presented the Best Supporting Actress award to Regina King and left the stage, leaving very little for people to be angry about Monday morning.