Why this running gag about a jet ski was the funniest part of the Oscars

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Dave Fawbert
The Oscars had an excellent running gag about a jet ski

Most people agreed that the Oscars got it right this year: there was a focus on equality and inclusion - an inevitable and welcome development in the year of #MeToo and Time’s Up - no one really seemed to disagree with the choice of winners and, importantly, they managed to actually announce the correct winners this time around.

Of course, some people didn’t get the memo:

But, while this was a reminder that there is still plenty of work to be done, it was also important that the Oscars didn’t disappear down an entirely-serious rabbithole; after all, movies - and awards ceremonies - are meant to be fun.

Which leads us on to a mysterious jet ski.

Injecting a little levity into proceedings, host Jimmy Kimmel explained in his opening monologue:

“OK, before we start handing out the awards, some history, because we’re going to do things a little bit differently. The first Oscar ceremony lasted, this is true, 15 minutes, from beginning to end. And people still complained.

“So if you do win an Oscar tonight, we want you to give a speech. We want you to say whatever you feel needs to be said. Speak from the heart. We want passion. You have an opportunity and a platform to remind millions of people about important things like equal rights and equal treatment. If you want to encourage others to join the amazing students at Parkland at their march on the 24th, do that. If you want to thank a favorite teacher, do that. Or maybe you just want to thank your parents and tell your kids to go to sleep. What you say is entirely up to you. You don’t have to change the world. Do whatever you want.

“But with that said, this is a really long show. So here’s what we’re going to do. Not saying you shouldn’t give a long speech, but whoever gives the shortest speech tonight will go home with — Johnny, tell them what they’ll win.”

At which point a curtain opened to reveal an $18,000 jet ski, presented like a Bullseye gameshow prize, with Helen Mirren cast as the glamorous assistant (although the merits of using a glamorous female assistant were mercifully not dissected at length on social media).

Oscars jet ski

Kimmel had a stopwatch with him, which he whipped out at regular intervals to remind people of the prize on offer - and the jet ski made an appearance in several winners’ speeches, although, naturally, many decided to savour their triumph rather than go for the concise option.

68-year-old Roger Deakins, who won an Oscar for the first time after 14 nominations in the Best Cinematography category for his work on Blade Runner 2049 joked: “I guess I better say something, or else they’ll give me a jet ski, and I don’t see myself on a jet ski somehow.”

Meanwhile, Gary Oldman, who won Best Actor, stated, not inaccurately, toward the end of his three-minute acceptance speech: “Obviously I’m not going to win the ski,” while Sam Rockwell, who won Best Supporting Actor, opened his winners’ speech with: “Run that clock, Jimmy, I wanna get that ski jet or whatever that was.”

However, he didn’t walk, or drive, away with the jet ski; instead that honour went to Mark Bridges, another first-time winner in the Best Costume Design category for his work on Phantom Thread, whose speech lasted a mere 30 seconds. At the end of the ceremony he posed, complete with life jacket, alongside Mirren on his new steed.

Oscars jet ski

Mark Bridges on his brand new jet ski

A winner from The Shape of Water would probably have made more sense, but you can’t have everything can you?

(Images: Rex)


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Dave Fawbert staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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