Wanted: Writers for Awards Show Jokes. Must Be Skilled at Diplomacy

In the middle of struggling through the opening monologue of the Golden Globes in January, the comic Jo Koy did something unusual, if not unprecedented, for the host of a major awards show: He blamed the writers.

“I wrote some of these — and they’re the ones you’re laughing at,” he said of his jokes, prompting writers across the country to grind their teeth.

Koy, who later apologized, endured some light mockery a week after the show, when his ex-girlfriend Chelsea Handler followed up a successful joke in her monologue at the Critics Choice Awards by saying, “Thank you for laughing at that. My writers wrote it.”

If something positive came from this episode, it’s that a spotlight was put on a corner of the showbiz work force that tends to remain in the shadows: the joke writers for awards shows like the Oscars on Sunday.

“It’s a small fraternity, and they always remained anonymous,” said Bruce Vilanch, the best known of this breed, who said his acclaim for the job, which included starring in the 1999 documentary “Get Bruce!,” had spurred resentment among his predecessors. “They were not personalities in their own way. They never talked about this stuff. I think there was almost a code.”

Chelsea Handler made sure to acknowledge her writers when she hosted the Critics Choice Awards.Credit…Kevin Winter/Getty Images For Critics Choice
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