LOS ANGELES -- The opposite of dull and deferential is not snotty and abusive.
Just a little notion someone might have mentioned to Ricky Gervais before he once again took the stage at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday night as host of the 2011 Golden Globes. Last year, the famously astringent comic was mildly disappointing -- he swore he wasn't going to break a sweat hosting, and he didn't. This year, he was far better prepared and, one would imagine, much sweatier, as it quickly became clear that his material wasn't just falling flat, it was making many audience members and presenters uncomfortable and even angry.
Gervais was called out for unnecessary roughness by so many stars both backstage and on that it would not have been surprising to see a hook emerge suddenly stage left or to learn that the host had taken "suddenly ill" and so Jimmy Fallon (who killed at last year's Emmys) would be filling in.
Once again wielding a full glass of beer as a prop, Gervais started off with a shot at Hollywood pinata Charlie Sheen -- "It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking, or as Charlie Sheen calls it, 'breakfast' " -- and then quickly moved on to less obvious and more dangerous targets.