Ricky Gervais Sets the Tone Early at Golden Globes, Then Backs Off

Ricky Gervais wasted no time in answering the question that had dominated the pre-Golden Globes hype.

Ricky Gervais wasted no time in answering the question that had dominated the pre-Golden Globes hype: Would he behave? Yes and no.

Taking the stage at the 69th Annual Golden Globes in Los Angeles Sunday night, Gervais took a sip from a glass of beer waiting there, and dug in.

"So, where was I? Nervous? Don’t be. Hello, I'm Ricky Gervais," quipped Gervais. What followed were jokes as sharp as we've come to expect from Gervais. But what set this year's crop apart from last year's was that they attacked faceless organizations or people who weren't in the room, as he steered clear of attendees' personal foibles. For example:

* "Tonight you get Britain's biggest comedian hosting the world's second-biggest awards show on the third biggest network."

* "The Golden Globes are to The Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton: a little bit louder, a little bit drunker and more easily bought--allegedly."

* "The Hollywood Foreign Press has warned me if I cause any controversy whatsoever, they'll definitely bring me back next year."

That said, Gervais couldn't resist one more shot at a favorite target after reading the list of rules the HFPA had given him.

* "I mustn't mention Mel Gibson--especially Jodie Foster's "Beaver," which I haven't seen."

Ryan Seacrest had caught up with Gervais on the red carpet, two hours before the funnyman took the stage, asking him if he'd been surprised by the reaction to his two previous performances, and the heated anticipation for his year's show.

"I thought (the press) blew it up (out of proportion)," Gervais told Seacrest.  "You usually have to murder someone to get that many column inches. I'm not looking to ruin anyone's night… I never mean to offend, there's just something about me."

The man has dropped some viciously funny jokes in his previous two years as Goden Globes host, but it certainly shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his work.

But after coming out strong, it became clear that Gervais had decided (or been convinced) to not offend anyone, leaving the penis jokes to Seth Rogen and George Clooney. Further dulling Gervais' impact was the Hollywood Foreign Press Association apparently deciding to devote far more of the show to acceptance speeches, which tented to run long.

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