Jo Koy’s Golden Globes Monologue Was Full of Tired Sexism and Racism

jo-koy-golden-globes-sexism-racism-barbie-taylor-swift
Jo Koy attends the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 7, 2024. (Lionel Hahn / Getty Images)

On Sunday, Jan. 7, the annual Golden Globe Awards aired live from Los Angeles. From Barbie vs. Oppenheimer, to Timothée Chalamet vs. Nicholas Cage, this night had a lot of steep competition. But many could not have predicted the biggest “beef” to occur on that stage: host Jo Koy vs. everybody else.

Many critics, viewers and audience members sitting in the Beverly Hilton were not impressed with the opening monologue by the 52-year-old comedian, finding his jokes sexist or just unfunny.

Two jokes in particular—one about the film Barbie, which had been up for seven awards that night (winning only two), and another about musician Taylor Swift—garnered the most intense backlash.

C’mon Barbie, Let’s Go (Smash the) Patriarchy

During the monologue, Koy took aim at the Greta Gerwig’s iconic summer blockbuster by comparing it to Christopher Nolan’s biographic thriller Oppenheimer:

Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies. I watched Barbie, I loved it. I really did love it. I don’t want you guys to think I’m a creep, but it was weird being attracted to a plastic doll.”

And this is what he had to say about the film itself:

“The key moment in Barbie is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite and flat feet. Or, what casting directors call ‘character actor.'”

*eye roll in nonbinary AFAB*

(Koy appears as a weekly guest host on The Adam Carolla Show podcast. Carolla has said of his politics, “I want a secure border, I’m not into the welfare state, I’m not into all those freebie lunch programs,” and of women comedians, “chicks [are] always the least funny on the writing staff” and “dudes are funnier than chicks.”)

Coming in Swift-ly

If the jokes about Barbie weren’t enough to draw the ire of uterus-owners everywhere, his jokes about Taylor Swift, who was in attendance, definitely did.

Koy made this joke about the singer, referencing her relationship with boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs football team:

“The difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL, on the Golden Globes, we have fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift, I swear.”

In response to the joke made at her expense, Swift made an uncomfortable looking face before taking a sip of her drink:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C11g6FJtWBj/?igsh=MTBlZjE4YzMxOA%3D%3D

Swift has previously addressed negative reactions to NFL coverage of her attendance at Kelce’s games. In her profile for Time’s Person of the Year, Swift said, “I’m just there to support Travis. I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads, and Chads.”

The Color Purple Joke

While much of the media has been discussing the jokes about Barbie and Swift, they weren’t the only targets of Koy’s attempt at comedy during the show. The mixed-race white and Filipino Koy, who is the second ever Asian person to host the Golden Globes (Sandra Oh was the first to do it back in 2019), also decided to include some jokes at the expense of the recent musical film adaptation of The Color Purple:

“The Color Purple is also what happens to your butt when you take Ozempic.”

One TikTok user, Katone Roberts, made a video criticizing the joke, as well as his frustration with defenders saying people “just need to have a sense of humor.”

https://www.tiktok.com/@katone/video/7321901714267704607?_r=1&_t=8itdmDu2s8M

The Crowd Aint Lovin’ It

In real time, as Koy was performing his monologue, it was clear that the in-person audience was not impressed by what they were hearing. Here are some highlights:

https://twitter.com/priyant1987/status/1744180012562178429?s=21
https://twitter.com/priyant1987/status/1744189930774106379?s=21
Ryan Gosling reacts to Koy’s joke about being “attracted to a doll.” (CBS)
Barbie director Greta Gerwig reacts to a joke during the Barbie section of Koy’s monologue. (CBS)
Robert Downey Jr. reacts to jokes about Oppenheimer. (CBS)

Some reports also observe times when boos could be heard from the audience.

New York Times media reporter Nicole Sperling who was present at the event, alleged on X that “one prominent director,” whom she did not name, had said, “They all showed up. They are all here and this is what they give us? This is a disaster.”

Sperling herself wrote that she had “never seen an audience rebel against an emcee so quickly.”

Press Reactions

Comedy, like all art, is subjective. But the press’ response to Koy’s performance on that Golden Globes stage has been overwhelmingly negative.

Evan Rosen from the New York Daily News called the monologue “cringey.”

Shirley Li from The Atlantic wrote that “practically every joke failed to land, mostly because the punch lines were dated or obvious.”

Television critic Alison Herman from Variety called Koy as an Awards show host “woefully unqualified.”

Some critics, like Sian Cain from The Guardian, went even further. According to Cain, “Koy was special, in that he seemed to quickly provoke outright hostility the Beverly Hilton has not seen since Richard Nixon threw his famous tantrum.

Justin Curto from Vulture speculated that this “pained, cringeworthy Globes opening,” in which Koy “immediately threw his writers under the bus” following the joke about Barbie’s “boobies” could possibly result in the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) going back on strike.

Taking it to TikTok

Many viewers have taken to TikTok following the broadcast to share their displeasure with Koy’s jokes.

https://www.tiktok.com/@officialasblive/video/7321850547647155489?_r=1&_t=8isHFeTHJ9i
@soogia1

I still choose to celebrate despite the steaming 💩 #jokoy left on that stage. He’s being rightfully dragged though. #goldenglobes #aliwong #stevenyeun #leesungjin #greenscreen

♬ Dance You Outta My Head – Cat Janice
https://www.tiktok.com/@kandykapelle/video/7322173201470033183?_r=1&_t=8iv7wzZO1UI

Some users even took this moment to comment with some jokes of their own:

https://www.tiktok.com/@iam_kjmiller/video/7321711628397907242?_r=1&_t=8isErNgUXVL
https://www.tiktok.com/@miss_pettigrew/video/7321897309556526366?_r=1&_t=8itdZEEDidG

Bring on the Defense

Amid this PR nightmare, Koy appeared on GMA3 to respond to the criticism. “I’d be lying if [I said] it doesn’t hurt. I feel bad, but I got to still say I loved what I did.”

The stand-up comic further explained that hosting was a “tough gig” and called it a “different style” than the stand-up comedy “position” he was used to. He also referred to the performance as an “off night.”

“I wanted to give a little bit more of me, and I fell a little short. That’s all,” said Koy.

In response to the joke about Swift, he admitted it was “a little flat” and “weird.” Still, he defended himself, arguing, “It was more on the NFL…I was trying to make fun of the NFL using cutaways and how the Globes didn’t have to do that. So it was more of a jab toward the NFL. But it just didn’t come out that way.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Koy has not responded to the criticism of the jokes at the expense of Barbie and The Color Purple.

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About

Red Rosenberg is a former intern and current contributor at Ms.They are an autistic nonbinary lesbian. They prefer to go by they/them pronouns. They graduated from Los Angeles Pierce College in June 2020. They hold an associate of arts for transfer degree in journalism and two associates of arts degrees for arts and humanities, and social and behavioral science, respectively. They have previously worked at Pierce College's Bull Magazine and Roundup Newspaper.