Ricky Gervais got support from Sharon Osbourne for his Golden Globes performance but has been roundly criticized by others for going over the line. ((Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty))

Ricky Gervais, host of the Golden Globes, has been roundly given the thumbs down on his performance, which was full of what many consider nasty quips about Scientology, homosexuality and many celebrities in the audience.

The outspoken British comedian, on his second turn as host of the star-studded event, opened the Sunday night gala with a Charlie Sheen jab about drinking, picking up a porn star and his ex-wife to do a threesome.

He also introduced Bruce Willis as "Ashton Kutcher's dad" — a reference to the young actor's marriage to Willis's ex, Demi Moore, who is much older than Kutcher.

Gervais didn't stop his sarcastic comments, also quipping about Robert Downey Jr.'s past drug addiction.


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Then, when the actor came out to present, he shot back: "Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show has been pretty good so far, wouldn't you?"

Downey Jr. was presenting the best comedy actress prize and also talked about how he tried to sleep with all of them.

In another cringe-worthy moment, Gervais mimicked a vulgar sexual act when talking about Hugh Hefner's new 24-year-old wife.

He also made a not-so-veiled jab at actors who were Scientologists and rumoured to be gay.

"I Love You Phillip Morris stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor — two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So, the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists. Probably. My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke."

Other presenters also expressed their disapproval. Tom Hanks and his Toy Story 3 co-star Tim Allen gave a one-two punch with Hanks, saying: "We recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian," to which Allen quickly added: "Neither of which he is now."

Close to edge

In the pre-show broadcast on the EI network, Gervais gave plenty of warning in terms of taking risks on his remarks: "I think I'll go just close enough to the edge but not go over it."

He also said he felt the celebrities could take it: "I'm not worried about the celebrities. They're all right, they're not scary!"

Gervais did have some boosters, including fellow Brit Sharon Osbourne, who tweeted: "Ricky Gervais is so irreverent and rude and I absolutely adore him. He says what people are thinking."

As the gala wore on, the comedian, who created the original The Office series in Britain, became less and less involved with the show, with the television announcer doing most of the introductions.

When he returned to the stage, Gervais stuck to the script, leading many to speculate he had been given a stern warning to tone down.

With all the talk about his long absence during the show, Gervais released a statement late Monday explaining why he was gone.

"I was allowed to choose who I would introduce in advance. I obviously chose presenters who I had the best jokes for, and who I knew had a good sense of humour. Everyone took it well, and the atmosphere backstage and at the after show was great."