Bruce Talks Oscars With Forbes

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Oscars 2008
Oscars’ Leading Funnyman
Lacey Rose, 02.22.08, 7:25 PM ET

After three-plus months of labor strife, Hollywood needs a good laugh. And Bruce Vilanch is ready.

In addition to stints in Broadway’s Hairspray and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, Vilanch has been the man behind the Oscar jokes since 1989.

He spoke to about his Oscar-night superstitions, what makes an Academy Award show joke and his post-show plans. When we last spoke, you didn’t know if there was even going to be an Oscar show this year. You said if the strike wasn’t resolved in time, you’d be watching the show in a bathrobe on your couch with Chinese food. Looks like the moo shoo dish will have to wait, huh?

Vilanch: The good part is the presenters have only had a few days to vet their material. This means that there is not that strong a likelihood that I’m going to get a call from Renee Zellweger’s pilates instructor with an opinion on the page she inadvertently left at the gym. The bad part is [that] the producers now know we can write the show in two weeks. I’m expecting rollbacks.

So how do you prepare for the big show?

I watch every movie made last year and pretend I’m working.

Any day-of superstitions you care to share?

I kiss the hem of Joan Rivers’ gown.

What makes a funny Oscar joke?

Something that combines what’s happening in the world with what’s happening in the world of movies. The best example, from some years ago: “There are a billion people watching tonight. And Linda Tripp, who’s taping.”

Has there ever been a joke you didn’t use, but wish you had?

Please, I’ve spent thousands on shrinks to bury these memories.

Is it too soon to laugh about the strike?

No, I’m just afraid we may make too many jokes.

With the possible exception of Juno, you’ve got some pretty dark films in the running this year. How do you make people laugh about topics like crime and murder?

Our presidential candidates do such a fine job of that, who can touch them?

Any big post-Oscar plans? Hitting the Oscar party circuit, perhaps?

If the show’s good, I go to all of them. If it tanks, I’m in a Bronco on the 405.