#OscarsSoWypipo: How Is the 2020 Academy Awards Going Hostless Again When Michael Harriot Is Right Here?

(L-R): In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Oscar statues are seen backstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. ; The Root’s Michael Harriot, cradling dual awards at the 2019 NABJ Awards.
Photo: Matt Petit - Handout (A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images), George M. Johnson (Michael Harriot)

If you think the 2020 Oscars was going to return to regularly scheduled programming by featuring a single comedian performing a snarkily narcissistic monologue in front of actors who take themselves too seriously, think again!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 92nd Academy Awards will carry on without a host for the second year in a row.

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“Let me confirm it now, together with the Academy, that there will be no traditional host this year,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke stated Wednesday at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter event. Burke noted at the previous TCA event last February that a hostless ceremony contributes to the network’s efforts to keep the telecast to no more than three hours.

THR adds:

Burke, in a March Creative Space interview with The Hollywood Reporter, suggested that ABC and the Academy would likely follow the same successful formula that saw a rare ratings uptick for the 2019 ceremony. “We’re having those conversations with the Academy right now,” she said at the time. “We are extremely happy with how the show went. Odds are you’ll see us repeating what we consider to be a successful formula.”

Last year’s kudocast, which saw Green Book win for best picture, averaged nearly 30 million viewers, up a whopping 11.5 percent year-over-year, and a 7.7 rating among the all-important adults 18-49 demographic, up 13 percent from a year ago. That bucked a downward spiral for the awards show, which in 2018 hit an all-time low of 26.54 million viewers and a 6.8 in the 18-49 demo.

In 2019, Kevin Hart decided to step down as host of the 91st Oscars after previous homophobic tweets surfaced. In his recent Netflix special, Hart admitted the way he handled the whole ordeal was wrong. Hart would’ve been the fifth black entertainer to host the biggest night of film.

When thinking of potential Oscars hosts, I initially thought of the unmatched Billy Porter (well, in addition to this headass list I wrote). He’s likable, effervescent and the Tony Award winner is perfect for the ceremony’s affinity for big musical numbers. But, like any good game player, I had to have a wild card. Enter The Root Senior Writer and world-renowned wypipologist, Michael Harriot.

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Harriot, who has quite a way with wit, would be the perfect solution to the awards season version of The Irishman. There could be a comedy sketch dedicated to his Clapback Mailbag series. Shit, he could do an entire musical number on his “How To Be a Better White Person in 2020” listicle and direct it to the vast majority of Academy members.

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Lastly, the whole thing would be a fabulous way to promote his upcoming books. Duh!

But, perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Does our beloved Harriot even want the job? A January 2019 Vox article pointed out that one of the reasons why it may be so difficult to find an Oscars host is that no one really wants the job:

One is that the job requires a lot of preparation — working with a writing staff to craft jokes and monologues, rehearsing, shooting promotional videos, maybe giving interviews — and it simply doesn’t pay much money. Jimmy Kimmel said he was paid $15,000 for hosting the 2017 Oscars, and for stars and comedians of the caliber the Academy is undoubtedly trying to hire, people with a high-enough profile to attract a wide viewership, that’s just not enough.

But there are plenty of other reasons, too. Seth MacFarlane, who came under widespread criticism after performing an ill-advised musical number called “We Saw Your Boobs” during his 2013 turn as Oscars host, said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that the gig has “all eyes on it,” which makes it a prime target for criticism.

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As such, The Root reached out to Harriot to comment on this particular hosting proposition. Harriot provided the following statement:

“I’m not quite sure I want to be in a room with that many white people at one time. Plus, I don’t know why we keep begging for representation at the Academy Awards when Oscar voters’ taste are generally trash. It’s not even about race. The fact that Meryl Streep hasn’t won ALL the Oscars is proof that they don’t know shit. One day, Meryl Streep is going to take a DNA test and discover she’s 1/16th black and we’ll finally realize why they keep discriminating against her. Plus, I am not qualified to host because I can’t tell white people apart. I still suspect that Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet are the same person. I was yesterday years old when I found out that Ryan Reynolds and Dane Cook were two different people. I don’t think the academy would look kindly upon me referring to the Best Actress category as: Best White Women Looking Forlorn About Some Shit Nobody Cares About. But if they ask me to host I would insist that the Oscars institute a separate category for black actors called ‘Best Movie White People Didn’t See Because It Wasn’t About Slavery.’ I’m all about equality. If I have to watch a movie like white people’s fish-fucking fantasies (The Shape of Water) then white people should have to watch Tyler Perry films. White people have been marginalized, too. Why is there no category for Best White Savior? We’ve overlooked Sandra Bullock’s contributions to cinema for far too long.”

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The 92nd Academy Awards will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on Feb. 9.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.