Rockville Centre-raised Amy Schumer attends the 94th Oscars at the...

Rockville Centre-raised Amy Schumer attends the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Sunday. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Angela Weiss

Late last week, Amy Schumer skipped out on an interview with a major newspaper (hint: Its initials are N, Y and T), which is rarely a good omen. She later explained that she was ill, which these days is an omen of an altogether different kind. But Schumer answered the bell Sunday night, as if she had all that much of a choice. This was the biggest stage of her life, and on the biggest stage of a troubled industry that isn't quite sure what it does any more.

Jokes were in order: 

“Know what’s in the In Memoriam package this year?" said she. "The Golden Globes.” Followed by, "the Academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man. I’m representing unbearable white women who call the cops when you get too loud.”

After taking the stage at the Dolby Theatre, the 94th's three hosts got it going, and efficiently. Among them, Wanda Sykes seemed to best summarize this ceremony, "where movie-lovers unite, to watch TV!"

But after that it was Schumer who got the pole position, where hosts throw out jokes to warm up the audience, or further define what sort of torture the rest of us are in for. (Take your pick, but this obvious shot was my favorite of those: "Leonardo DiCaprio has done so much to fight climate change and leave behind a greener planet for his girlfriends.")

For the 94th Oscars, Sunday night was a big deal indeed. This was a return to the Dolby Theatre, a return to post-pandemic normalcy and a return to hosts. The last three ceremonies went without any while the ratings impact, at least initially, was negligible. Then last year's ceremony was seen by just over 10 million viewers — catastrophic in Oscar terms — and the pressure was back on for the 94th. 

Could a host reverse the decline? Could three, perhaps? Speaking of pressure, could they possibly articulate what a host actually brings to these things anyway?

Enter a comic from Rockville Centre whose style and fan base couldn't be more different from the other two hosts she was matched with — one best-known for the "Scary movie" franchise (Regina Hall) and the other (Wanda Sykes) with the "Ice Age" one. 

Multiple host Oscars are not all that unusual. There have been 23 such ceremonies over the decades although in recent ones those tended to be when neither Whoopi Goldberg nor Billy Crystal were available. 

But Sunday night was a paradigm shift. The nominated pictures didn't just get smaller, they got streamed. Could a host (or hosts) even begin to make fun of this diminished scale, much less make sense of it?

No host really could, and these three didn't try. Instead, Schumer did what she had to and did it well. Maybe they matter after all?

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