Golden Globes Ricky Gervais
Credit: NBC

This time, Ricky Gervais could only really shock if he was polite — which was seemingly his plan for hosting the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards. The comedian was far less shocking than last year, taking shots at mostly safe targets like Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and NBC, while his zingers about celebrities in the ballroom avoided last year’s gasp-inducing harshness.

“So, where was I? Nervous? Don’t be,” Gervais reassured. Here’s the best of bunch:

— “You get Britain’s biggest comedian, hosting the second-biggest awards show on America’s third biggest network. It’s four? It’s fourth.”

— “The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton — a bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought.” Later he noted that Kardashian’s marriage lasted 72 days. “I’ve sat through longer James Cameron acceptance speeches,” he said.

— On Eddie Murphy quitting his Oscar hosting gig: “He walked out on them. Good for him. When the man who says ‘yes’ to Norbit says ‘no’ to you. You know you’re in trouble.”

— Saying he’s not allowed to mention Jodie Foster’s “beaver,” referring supposedly to her film starring Mel Gibson The Beaver: “I haven’t seen it myself. I’ve spoken to a lot of guys here, they haven’t seen it either. But that doesn’t mean it’s not any good.”

— Noting Justin Beiber nearly had to take a paternity test: “What a waste of a test that would have been. The only way he could impregnate a girl if if he borrowed Martha Stewart’s old turkey baster.”

— On Bridesmaids showing that women can be as crude as men: “Farting, burping, cursing, performing wild sex acts, even pooping in the sink. I heard for research they spent the weekend with Dame Helen Mirren.

— On Boardwalk Empire: “It’s about a load of immigrants who came to America about a 100 years ago and they got involved in bribery and corruption and worked their way up into high society. But enough about the Hollywood Foreign Press.” And then added: “They do a lot of charity work and they’re non profit organization — just like NBC.”

— Introducing Melissa McCarthy: “[She] made her mark in comedy this summer by defecating into a sink. Amazingly, that’s still less demeaning than what most of you have done to make it in show business.”

— Introducing Colin Firth: “What you don’t know is that he’s very racist. Very. And I mean, really nasty stuff. I’ve seen him punch a little blind kitten.”

— Introducing Natalie Portman: “Last year, our next presenter won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for her work in Black Swan. This year, she took some time out to have a baby. Consequently, she’s been nominated for nothing. Really pathetic. But she learned that valuable lesson you all already knew: Never put family first. Please welcome the very foolish Natalie Portman.”

Regardless of how you feel about Gervais, he’s been able to arguably generate more suspense and anticipation for his jokes than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has for who wins tonight’s awards. Rarely has the host of any award show prompted so much interest and speculation than Gervais has spurred by simply returning to Globes podium.

A few days ago in Pasadena, Gervais told reporters that he doesn’t really care if the audience is offended by his jokes. “I’ve got nothing against those people in the room,” he said. “I admire most of them. They are just gags. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or undermine the moral fabric of America. I’d rather they laugh than gasp, but I cherish the gasps along with the laughs.”

For those who missed Gervais’ performance last year, here’s last year’s list of Gervais’ rudest Globes jokes. This year’s full winner’s list here.

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