I thought Ellen did a fine job. Kept it light, kept it relaxed. Didn't try too hard. Let the jokes sell themselves.
She remembered her real audience wasn't the stars and bigwigs in the hall but people watching on TV.
She played to the camera not the room. Movie stars and comedians are trained to pretend the camera isn’t there. Ellen didn’t just look at the camera. She looked into it. She looked at us.
Then she made the stars look at us too.
That was the brilliance behind the selfie.
She had them breaking the fourth wall in an unironic way.
She got the stars involved without making them have to clown it up. They looked human but still kept their movie star dignity. That was the point of the pizza bit. It was a natural follow-up to the selfie. There was no payoff because there was no joke. It wasn’t a bit. It was an exercise. Instead of leaving them to go back to just sitting there as isolated objects of desire and envy to be gawked at by us, Ellen had them up and moving around and mingling with each other and by extension at that point with us. She’d brought us into the room.
It was a Carson-level job of hosting but she did it on her own terms and in her own style. It wasn’t incidental to his hosting of the Oscars that Johnny Carson was the greatest talk show host ever. Ellen made the Oscars a special episode of her talk show.
The Glinda costume might have been a bit much.
And I still want to know if the pizza delivery guy got his tip.
But the main thing she did right---and I loved the guy to death the first couple times he hosted---was pretend Billy Crystal never existed.
Adapted from my Twitter feed, very early Monday morning, March 3, 2014.