Seth MacFarlane Bombs at the Oscars

There’s an old Show Business story about an aging vaudeville comic who is about to meet his Maker. His friends and family come to his deathbed to say their goodbyes. One of his former partners, dismayed at seeing his friend’s frail state, leans in to whisper, “Dying is hard.”

The vaudevillian looks up and says, “Not as hard as comedy.”

Seth MacFarlane tried to be funny as the host of the 2013 Oscar telecast and proceeded to lay more eggs than a chicken farm in rural New Jersey. He bombed because he broke the three cardinal rules of comedy:

            • He announced that he was about to tell a joke.
            • He snickered or laughed after he told the joke.
            • He mis-timed his delivery by pausing too long before his punch lines.

His content was another matter.  Content is all a matter of taste, and many critics found Mr. MacFarlane’s mockery of women, Jews, blacks, gays, alcoholics, children, and even the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, thoroughly tasteless.

Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, summed it up perfectly: “It wasn’t funny,” Mr. Foxman said. “It was ugly.”

Mr. MacFarlane, in a sense, agreed. When asked whether he would repeat his performance for the next Oscar broadcast, he said, “No way.”