Comedians Steve Martin and Chris Rock opened up the 2020 Academy Awards with their famously uncompromising style. It is the second year that the Academy has gone with a host-less format and when Martin asked why that was the case, Rock answered without missing a beat, “Twitter! Everybody’s got an embarrassing Tweet somewhere. I know I do.”
After warming up, Rock pointed out that two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali was in the audience. He won Best Supporting Actor in both 2017 and 2019 for Moonlight and Green Book, respectively. “You know what that means when the cops pull him over?” Rock quipped, “Nothing!”
Rock’s observations didn’t end there. When Martin suggested that there was something missing from the list directorial nominees this year, Rock answered, “Vaginas?” underscoring the lack of women who were nominated for Oscars this year.
Speaking of women, Cynthia Erivo was acknowledged in the audience, the only Black person in contention for an acting award this year. She is nominated for Best Actress and Best Song for her work in Harriet.
“Cynthia did such a great job in Harriet hiding Black people, that The Academy got her to hide all the Black nominees!” After pausing for a beat he asked, “Is Eddie Murphy under this stage?” Murphy starred in and produced the Netflix biopic Dolemite Is My Name, which won a Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy, but received no Oscar nominations.
The duo closed out with one more jab at the Academy, citing that in the 92-year history of the Awards not much had changed. There were no Black acting nominees in 1929 and in 2020 there is at least one. Progress, right? Watch the full open below:
(Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)