I like Crystal as host: he is quick on his feet, is enough of an insider to be “of” the industry, but as a comedian is enough of an outsider to not pull his punches:
- When he hosts the Oscars for the eighth time, he’ll serve as master of ceremonies, jokester, writer and maybe even song-and-dance man. In the past, he has described himself as the live telecast’s “jockey.”
The key is turning his insecurities into energy.
“If you don’t have a little nerves, then something is wrong with you,” he told reporters when he was first announced as the host. “If I don’t have a little bit of dry-mouth before I go out onstage, I get concerned. … Fear is a good motivator.”
While he’s quick-witted and chatty onstage, Crystal is mellow and contemplative backstage. He doesn’t like to discuss the show when he’s in the midst of actually preparing for it.
But in an earlier interview with The Associated Press, he talked openly about his preparation on the big day.
“I usually have to be here at 8:30 in the morning, so I’m up real early and I work out with my trainer. We do stretching and get ready, then I leave and I’m here.”
Crystal, 55, said he has one tradition whenever he appears at the Oscars: He carries a toothbrush in his jacket pocket. It’s something he’s done since his first hosting duty in 1990.
The reason? As a child growing up on Long Island, he’d rehearse Oscar speeches in the bathroom mirror while holding his toothbrush like an award.
….His favorite surprises: When his “City Slickers” co-star Jack Palance (news), who had just won best supporting actor in 1992, tried to prove his 72-year-old virility by dropping to the stage floor to do one-armed push-ups.
Luckily that major award came near the top of the show, giving Crystal a running gag for the rest of the night. Crystal would give occasional reports to the audience that Palance was performing increasingly unlikely stunts, such as bungee-jumping from the Hollywood sign.
The same evening, Crystal introduced 100-year-old motion-picture pioneer Hal Roach, the producer of the “Our Gang” shorts. Roach responded with an unmiked, impromptu speech from his seat.
“It came back to me and I said, ‘It makes sense he got his start in silent films,'” Crystal remembered. [AP]