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Billy Crystal Or Ricky Gervais: Which Awards Host Is Funnier?

Hosts

Posted: 11/20/11 03:31 AM ET

Despite the ripples of anger and resentment felt across certain Hollywood circles in the wake of Ricky Gervais' controversial performance as host of the Golden Globe Awards in January, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced Friday that the British comedian will return to the podium at the annual awards gala in 2012.

According to those present at the vote - which saw 46 out of 62 members of the HFPA electing to retain Gervais - a majority of the dissenters were older members who found Gervais' material in January to be in poor taste. A blog post on the HFPA website stated, "While many welcome Gervais' return, not everyone is happy with the decision."

The HFPA's decision to bring back the unorthodox and unabashed Gervais comes on the heels of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's announcement that veteran Oscars host Billy Crystal will replace Eddie Murphy as MC for the 2012 Academy Awards.

The choice of Crystal as a replacement for Murphy, who's resignation earlier this month followed that of director/pal Brett Ratner, who himself stepped down as producer for the awards ceremony after statements he made on the Howard Stern show were deemed homophobic and offensive, has been decried by critics as proof that the Oscars have stopped caring about appealing to younger audiences.

Still, some see Crystal's return to the hosting gig as a breath of fresh air after last year's telecast, in which twenty-something movie stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway drew both poor ratings and scathing reviews, despite their popularity among younger audiences.

In the words of Entertainment Tonight's Darren Franich, "It's almost as If the show has been going through a midlife crisis - buying a shiny new car, dating people young enough to be its grandchildren - and now it's admitting that, well, sometimes the safe choice is the best choice."

If the Oscars have in fact embraced the 'safe choice' with Crystal -- who once opened the show by wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask, embracing a smiling Anthony Hopkins and inviting him to dinner - then the Golden Globes are embracing their role as a contradictory identity to the Oscars with the choice to bring back Gervais -- who once introduced Mel Gibson as a presenter by quipping, "I enjoy a drink as much as the next guy, unless..." You can guess where he was going with that one.

Perhaps the dichotomy between the two comedians can best be summed up in this recent tweet from Gervais:


Ricky Gervais
Just told Billy Crystal he'd better not use any of my holocaust or pedophile material at The Oscars. He agreed (true)

The battle over which comedic approach prevails - classic or cutting edge - won't be decided until both awards shows have aired and the Nielsen ratings assessed. In the meantime, we want to know who you think is funnier: Billy or Ricky?

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Billy Crystal's opening monologue from the 69th Annual Academy Awards in 1997.
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Filed by Evan Allis  |