And it was clear that, at times, the crowd didn’t know whether to laugh or grimace at the jokes.
In one of his first bits, Meyers said for the actors nominated that night, the award announcements constituted “the first time in a three months it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out loud.”
Willem Dafoe, the butt of that particular joke, looked a bit uneasy in response:
Later, Meyers confronted “the elephant not in the room,” aka accused sexual predator and former producer Harvey Weinstein.
“Harvey Weinstein isn’t here tonight because, well, I’ve heard rumors that he’s crazy and difficult to work with,” Meyers said (at the 3:08 mark below). “But don’t worry. He’ll be back in 20 years when he becomes the first person ever booed during the In Memoriam.”
The quip received a confused smattering of clapping, boos and groans. “It’ll sound like that,” Meyers kidded.
The host was hardly deterred by the mixed reaction. He also poked fun at alleged sexual assaulter Kevin Spacey, who was replaced in the film “All The Money in the World” by Christopher Plummer.
While discussing “The Shape of Water,” Meyers even called out Woody Allen, who allegedly sexually abused his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.
“When I first heard about a film where a naive young woman falls in love with a disgusting sea monster, I thought, ‘Oh man, not another Woody Allen movie,’” Meyers said.
Meyers also had jokes that he thought would be too controversial coming from him, so he passed the baton to other celebs like Jessica Chastain. He set her up with the first line of a joke and let the actress deliver the provocative punchline:
However, joke participant Amy Poehler made it obvious that she didn’t need any help with hers.
Ahead of the night, the “Late Night” host told The Hollywood Reporter that he wouldn’t be mentioning Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean the president got away completely unscathed.
Meyers joked about when Seth Rogen, rather than Trump, “was the guy making trouble with North Korea,” referring to Rogen’s movie “The Interview.”
“Simpler times,” Meyers said.
“Give it up for the Hollywood Foreign Press, a string of three words that could not have been better designed to infuriate our president,” the host said later on. “The only name that would make him angrier would be the Hillary Mexico Salad Association.”
Meyers also reminisced about the time he joked about Trump being unqualified to be president during the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which some said inspired the current president to run.
Trying to recapture that same magic, Meyers decided to point out how “unqualified” Oprah is to be president, too.
Oprah, we’ll see you in 2020.