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The Golden Globes Monologue Was Bad—But One Joke in Particular Sank Jo Koy

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After a string of controversies in recent years, the 81st annual Golden Globes on Sunday night should have been a bid to return to awards show relevancy, but the ceremony's host made that an uphill battle. Comedian Jo Koy, who was announced as the host just two weeks before the ceremony, opened the show with a monologue that was cumbersome, contentious, and profoundly uncomfortable, setting the tone for a night that failed to impress.

While Koy's act played heavily into the age-old practice of celebrity ribbing, targeting everyone from Meryl Streep to Taylor Swift, his jokes more often than not fell flat with both attendees and viewers at home, especially as he ventured into the ribald or, in one particularly egregious instance, bald misogyny. Koy's lowest point in a decidedly unfunny monologue was cracking a joke about Barbie that unintentionally highlighted the underlying sexism that the film faced—and, in many ways, the point of the whole movie.

Read more: The Best and Worst Moments of the 2024 Golden Globe Awards

"Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies,” he said. "The key moment in Barbie is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite, and flat feet. Or what casting directors call character actor!"

The joke elicited unimpressed reactions from the night's attendees, including physical grimaces from Helen Mirren and Selena Gomez, as well as seemingly unamused responses from the Barbie cast and crew, including co-writer and director Greta Gerwig and stars Ryan Gosling and Issa Rae.

To make matters worse, Koy got defensive after the joke bombed, blaming his writers and the lack of time he had to prepare for the show.

"Yo, I got the gig 10 days ago, you want a perfect monologue?” he said, in an off-script moment. “Yo, shut up. You’re kidding me, right. Slow down. I wrote some of these, and they’re the ones you’re laughing at.”

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Online, the joke sparked major backlash, with many critiquing Koy for the blatant misogyny in his joke.

Others took Koy to task for his reductive treatment of Barbie, emphasizing how the joke highlighted the central conflicts and themes of the film.

All jokes aside, Barbie ended the night with some statues in hand—one for Billie Eilish and Finneas' song "What Was I Made For?" and another for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement—a decent if not triumphant showing for 2023's biggest release.

On Monday, Koy addressed the reaction to his hosting gig on GMA3: What You Need to Know. “It’s a tough room. It was a hard job, I’m not going to lie…I’d be lying if [I said] it doesn’t hurt. I hit a moment there where I was like, ‘Ah.’ Hosting is just a tough gig," he said, according to Variety. "Yes, I’m a stand-up comic but that hosting position it’s a different style. I kind of went in and did the writer’s thing. We had 10 days to write this monologue. It was a crash course. I feel bad, but I got to still say I loved what I did.”

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com