The Oscars are upon us yet again. And like the nominees, not every joke can be a winner.
In fact, on the comedy side of the equation, the bar is pretty low. Tuning into the Academy Awards for the comedy is kinda like going to Omaha for sushi. Sure, they have it, but it’s made by the Nebraska sushi chef version of Bruce Vilanch.
And yet, not all bad Oscar jokes are created equal. Some are so awful that they deserve special mention. Like…
Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Moonlight’ Hand-Job Joke
Aside from the fact that this joke from 2017 made it clear that Kimmel’s main takeaway from Moonlight was the hand-job scene, Moonlight (eventually) winning Best Picture that night only made this joke even more cringeworthy: “There are a lot of sad movies this year. Of all the nominees, the only happy ending was the one in the middle of Moonlight.”
Chevy Chase’s Writers’-Strike-Addled Material
Despite a writers’ strike in 1988, the Academy decided to forge ahead with the Oscars broadcast anyway. In particular, they brought in Chevy Chase to desperately mug for three hours and prove that the studios needed to immediately give the writers whatever they were asking for. One not-so-shiny gem: “Tonight, we’ve got a great lineup of presenters who don’t need the written word to express themselves out here. And just in case they do, remember: There may be a writers’ strike, but there is not a readers’ strike.”
Seth MacFarlane Mocking Domestic Violence
A cartoon dog couldn’t even make this bit funny: “Django Unchained, now that was an intense film. 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.”
The James Franco and Anne Hathaway Disaster
In an attempt to appeal to younger viewers, the Academy decided to bring on Franco and Hathaway as co-hosts in 2011, presumably choosing that pairing by throwing darts at a list of celebrities. The two had zero chemistry and even worse comedic timing. I mean, check out this exchange:
Franco: It’s been such a great year for big studio pictures, tiny independent films…
Hathaway: And it’s been a great year for lesbians
Franco: That’s right.
Hathaway: Not just in general, but in movies.
Franco: The Kids are All Right.
Franco: Black Swan.
Hathaway: Dancing lesbians
Franco: Toy Story 3.
Hathaway: Where’s the dad?
Humanitarian Sean Penn Being Not So Humanitarian
Penn, world-renowned for his sense of humor and sensitivity, uttered the following when awarding Alejandro G. Iñárritu the Best Picture Oscar in 2015: “And the Oscar goes to… Who gave this son of a bitch his green card? Birdman!”
Jerry Lewis’ Not-So-Funny Ad-Libbing
Every year, everyone inevitably asks, “Why does the Oscars broadcast always run long?” The answer: Because the one time it ran short in 1959, the Academy had to have Lewis beg everyone to remain in their seats while he awkwardly stalled for time.
Bob Hope’s Suicide Crack
Apparently, the gift bags were pretty intense back in 1955: “The winners will, of course, take home an Oscar. The losers will all be presented with monogrammed do-it-yourself suicide kits.”
John Travolta ‘Jokingly’ Creeping on Idina Menzel
At the 2014 Oscars, Travolta made news for absolutely butchering Idina Menzel’s name, introducing her as “Adele Dazeem.” The following year, Menzel got her revenge by introducing Travolta as her “very dear friend, Glom Gazingo.” But the way Travolta began jokingly touching her face after he came out made the whole thing far more creepy than funny.
Ellen DeGeneres Trying to Dunk on Liza Minnelli
“The real Captain Phillips is here tonight. And the real Philomena is here tonight. And I have to say, one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have ever seen in my entire life. (Camera cuts to the real Liza Minelli) Seriously — good job, sir.”
Chris Rock Lamely Engaging in Asian and Jewish Stereotypes
In 2016, long before The Slap, Rock explained the vote-tabulation process and brought out the “most dedicated, accurate and hard-working” accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers: Three cute little Asian children he introduced as “Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz.”
The double whammy of Asians-are-good-at-math/Jews-are-good-with-money received a ton of backlash, especially because the joke came not long after Rock took the Academy to task for its lack of cultural diversity. To make matters worse, Rock followed the gag by saying, “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids.” To make matters even worse, it was later revealed that the kids’ parents weren’t informed about what the joke was about before they agreed to let their children be part of the ceremony.