Golden Globes: Host Ricky Gervais was just too nasty.

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 piñata

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.

"It seemed like everything was three dimensional this year, except the characters in

'The Tourist,'

" he quipped, taking a shot at A-list darlings

Angelina Jolie


Johnny Depp

, whose nominations he joked were the product of bribery. While Depp smiled grimly, Gervais moved on to laud the un-nominated

"I Love You Phillip Morris"

as being movie in which two heterosexual men play two gay men "so the opposite of some famous Scientologists." Then, he went on to mime the sexual congress of

Hugh Hefner

and his new fiancee and to deliver a rather stale

Mel Gibson


Robert Downey Jr.

may have put it best. After Gervais introduced him with references to

Betty Ford

and correctional facilities, the

"Iron Man"

actor smiled at the audience and said: "Aside from the fact that it's been unusually mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show is pretty good."

As far as the actual awards went, it was an evening filled with many wonderful moments —

Katey Sagal

won a much-deserved award for her role in



"Sons of Anarchy,"
Chris Colfer


Jane Lynch


Steve Buscemi


"Boardwalk Empire,"
Melissa Leo


Christian Bale


"The Fighter,"
Annette Bening


"The Kids Are All Right,"
Colin Firth


"The King's Speech,"
Aaron Sorkin


"The Social Network"

— all of whom were by turns gracious, witty and above all in tune with the elastic but still professionally proscribed form of the awards show.

Gervais, on the other hand, was busy defining the role of the perfect host by defying it. Poking fun at big stars is in the job description. But televised teasing requires a lightness of touch or else it quickly becomes bullying.

For a few short hours, an awards show host wields undeniable power. He or she can make a joke about someone in the audience and that person is stuck between a camera and a hard place — get all shirty about it and you risk looking like

Sean Penn


Jude Law


Chris Rock

's rather gentle ribbing. So most just smiled, perhaps at the memory of Gervais' own dismal box office record, and prayed for a quick cutaway.

And Gervais went one step further, introducing presenters in a cock-eyed way, so

Scarlett Johansson

, the evening's first presenter, walked out in the wake of a weird Mel Gibson as anti-Semite joke.

Steve Carell


Tina Fey

were, obviously, better armed — "It never gets old," Carell cracked when Gervais introduced him with a tired reference to their feud of "The Office" — but

Bruce Willis

didn't know quite what to say when he was as "

Ashton Kutcher

's father."

Other things contributed to what was a remarkably strange, even by awards show standards, evening. After winning for television movie or mini-series, the producer of "Carlos" kept referring to the

Hollywood Foreign Press Association

as "the academy," which was rather embarrassing; Downey followed up his dis of Gervais with a weirdly lecherous introduction involving film actresses; Annette Bening's hair looked like her stylist used a leaf blower; the mash-up for the Cecil B. De Mille Award winner

Robert De Niro

included such oddities as "King of


" but no "Bang the Drum Slowly"?; and

Justin Bieber

presented an award without taking his hands out of his pockets.

But the coup de grace was when

Tom Hanks


Tim Allen

stepped up to present the Golden Globe for comedy or musical. "We recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby and kindly comedian," said Hanks. "Neither of which he is now," added Allen.

No comedian worth his salt expects to be loved by everyone. But slapped down in public by Woody and Buzz? That's got to sting.