(LOS ANGELES) — Going into the Oscars, many wondered if host Seth MacFarlane, the man behind Family Guy, would push the envelope, or tone things down. Well, he pushed the envelope all right, but he didn’t quite tear it open. MacFarlane sang and danced up a storm, as past Oscar hosts have done, but he also made a series of jokes that were skating right on the edge of bad taste, while others crossed the line.
Opening the show, MacFarlane got off a series of edgy gags. Speaking about Argo, the host said, in reference to Ben Affleck being denied a best director nod, “It tells the previously classified story about an American hostage rescue in post-revolutionary Iran. The story was so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy.”
Talking about Lincoln star Daniel Day-Lewis’ penchant for completely immersing himself in his roles, MacFarlane said, “So when you saw a cell phone [on set], would you have to go, ‘Oh my God, what’s that?!’ If you bumped into Don Cheadle on the studio lot, did you try to free him?”
Describing Django Unchained, MacFarlane said, “This is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.” He also said that the movie, which liberally used the “n-word,” was “loosely based on Mel Gibson’s voice mails.”
A huge screen then descended from the ceiling, and William Shatner, in full Star Trek uniform as Captain James T. Kirk, appeared. In a long bit, he told MacFarlane that he’d come back in time from the 23rd century to tell him that he was doing such a terrible job that on Monday, he’d be named the worst Oscar host in history. When MacFarlane asked what he was going to do that was so bad, Shatner described several of the host’s “future” bits, all of which MacFarlane played out for the audience. They included:
–Performing an offensive song with the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus called “We Saw Your Boobs,” whose lyrics listed all the famous actresses in the room and which movies they bared their breasts in. Sample lyric: “Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry/Penelope Cruz in Vanilla Sky/And Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures and Jude/ And Hamlet. And Titanic. And Iris/ And Little Children. And The Reader/And whatever you’re shooting right now/We saw your boobs.”
— Staging a re-enactment of Flight with sock puppets.
–Coming on to Sally Field while wearing a Flying Nun outfit, and then making out with her.
When asked how he could remedy this so he wouldn’t get the worst reviews in history, Shatner told MacFarlane he had to give the audience what they wanted. This led to MacFarlane staging several traditional song-and-dance numbers: he sang “The Way You Look Tonight” as Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron danced, and he, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe sang and danced to “High Hopes.” Finally, he finished with a remake of the Beauty & The Beast song “Be Our Guest,” with the lyrics changed to mention the nominees. Shatner stated that MacFarlane’s efforts had worked, and displayed a “future” headline from Monday in which he was declared the best host ever.
For the rest of the night, MacFarlane continued to crack jokes that raised a few eyebrows. Among them:
— On Daniel Day-Lewis “becoming” Lincoln: “I would argue that the actor who got most inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth [audience groans] Really? 150 years and it’s still too soon, huh? I’ve got some Napoleon jokes coming up.”
— On Ben Affleck in Argo: “First time I saw him with all that dark facial hair I thought, my God, the Kardashians have finally made the jump to film.”
— Before introducing Salma Hayek: “We’ve reached that point where Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz takes the stage and we have no idea what they’re saying but we don’t care because they’re so attractive.”
— On 9-year-old Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis: “She’s adorable. She said to me backstage, ‘I really hope I don’t lose to that old lady, Jennifer Lawrence.’ To give you an idea of how young she is, it’ll be 16 years until she’s too old for Clooney.”
MacFarlane was also likely responsible for what came out of the mouth of Ted, the teddy bear star of MacFarlane’s top-grossing comedy film of the same name. Ted, via special effects, presented several awards with Mark Wahlberg, and made a bunch of Jewish jokes, including insisting that he himself was Jewish so he’d continue to “get work in this town.” When Wahlberg said that he was Catholic despite having a “berg” in his name, Ted told him, “Wrong answer!”
MacFarlane closed the show by duetting with Kristin Chenoweth on a comical song called “Here’s to the Losers.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN