Before the envelopes came, the envelope was pushed.
Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais didn’t take much time during Sunday night’s awards telecast to remind television viewers and the assembled Hollywood heavyweights inside the The Beverly Hilton hotel why he was such a controversial choice to return for a fifth time.
“You’ll be pleased to know this is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I don’t care anymore,” Gervais said — and then proceeded to prove he meant every word.
The former star of the Biorports’s “The Office” opened with a broadside targeting actress Felicity Huffman’s imprisonment for a college admissions scandal involving her daughter.
“I also came here in a limo and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman,” he joked.
He quipped that accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who authorities said was found dead in his jail cell last August, didn’t die by suicide.
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“Shut up, I don’t care. I know he was your friend,” he said amid some uncomfortable groans.
Referring to the dearth of people of color in many categories, he explained that “the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is just very, very racist.”
There was a bleeped-out joke about Dame Judi Dench licking herself in “Cats,” a joke that landed almost as poorly as the movie itself.
The camera caught Tom Hanks visibly cringing several times during the monologue.
The HFPA shouldn’t have been too surprised. The last time Gervais hosted, in 2016, he caused outrage with a suggestion that while Caitlyn Jenner had “shown great bravery” in openly transitioning from a man to a woman, “she didn’t do a lot for women drivers” — a reference to the former Olympian’s involvement in a fatal car collision that left another woman dead.
And just two weeks ago, Gervais came under fire for several tweets that he insisted were jokes, but were viewed as transphobic by critics.
The pick was even more questionable because the HFPA tapped Sandra Oh as co-host last year with Andy Samberg. The actress was the first Asian American woman to host the telecast in what was applauded at the time as a move toward more inclusion.
On Sunday, Gervais took a jab at actors for working for companies with questionable morals, including Apple, Amazon and Disney, saying they had no right to make political speeches when accepting their awards.
“If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent,” he quipped.
“If you win an award, don’t make your little political speech. No one cares. You know nothing. Say thank you to your agent and get the f— off stage.”
Ethan Sacks writes for NBCNews.com.