Oscars audience split over Regina Hall’s emergency COVID test joke

a woman in a gown and four men in tuxedos
Regina Hall calls Simu Liu, Bradley Cooper, Tyler Perry and Timothée Chalamet onto the stage at the 94th Academy Awards.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Yes, the Oscars went there.

Oscars co-host Regina Hall took care to note that the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday were being held amid a pandemic. But this was no ordinary COVID joke.

Claiming that some of the required COVID test results had been lost, Hall said she would need certain attendees to do some emergency testing backstage.


“Don’t worry, it’s only a few people,” said Hall. “So when I call your name, I’m just going to need you to come with me.”

2022 Oscar winners full list, including ‘CODA,’ ‘Dune’ and Will Smith

March 27, 2022

She then called a few “totally random” people including Bradley Cooper, Timothée Chalamet, Tyler Perry and Simu Liu on stage as some of the folks who needed a “deep PCR” test.

“It’s simple,” she insisted. “I’m going to swab the back of your mouth with my tongue.”

The TV audience’s response to the bit — which carried on into frisking presenters Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa per the Academy’s “protocol” — was mixed on Twitter.

“Regina Hall’s ‘Covid test’ bit is easily the funniest thing an #Oscars host had done in a decade,” tweeted writer Saeed Jones.

“Regina is very relatable to me in this moment!!!” tweeted comedian Naomi Ekperigin, and added in a follow-up: “The fact that Regina Hall is single is all the proof you need that life isn’t fair!!!!”

“Regina Hall has low-key been one of the funniest women in Hollywood for nearly 25 years,” tweeted Jarett Wieselman. “She’s absolutely killing her #Oscars co-hosting gig.”


“regina hall been hilarious her whole life like my tummy hurts,” wrote another Twitter user who tweeted a clip of the “COVID patdown.”

‘CODA’ became a feel-good best picture winner and Jessica Chastain triumphed for ‘Tammy Faye,’ but all was overshadowed by best actor winner Will Smith.

March 27, 2022

Others did not find Hall’s segment humorous, pointing out it was inappropriate and was an example of societal double standards.

“That Regina Hall bit made me sooooo uncomfortable,” wrote one Twitter user. “What were she and the writers thinking??? So cringe.”

“If Regina Hall were a man & called women up to the stage & made this whole sexually charged ‘joke’ including frisking a women…everyone would have lost their minds,” wrote another Twitter user. “That was weird & awkward.”