oscars 2021

Lil Rel Howery Takes All This Awkward Live Oscars Coverage, Makes It Fun

Photo: Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be a red-carpet event without some level of spine-tingling awkwardness, and Sunday’s Oscars: Into the Spotlight preshow to the 93rd Annual Academy Awards was no different. But whether it was an abrupt camera cut to, or just the ambient weirdness of canned interview questions, Lil Rel Howery channeled that live-television unease into what felt like genuine, giddy fun. For example, the moment when Howery found himself dancing next to the one and only, “very all-around dope” Angela Bassett. “Why am I dancing?,” Rel mused. “We shouldn’t be dancing like this. We look like we’re having too much fun.” Howery asked later, “When you go to Walgreens, do you have glam stuff on, too?”

Photo: ABC

We also want to know what happened the last time Rel hung out with tonight’s Best Supporting Actor winner, Judas and the Black Messiah’s Daniel Kaluuya. “Remember when we went to that sports bar?,” he mused. Well, what happened?! We want to know. Bring them back for Oscars: After Party, because we need answers.

But our favorite Lil Rel moment during the preshow? His chat with this year’s Best Director winner, Chloé Zhao, which started before he knew they were even on air. “I’m just happy to see people,” Howery mused, as Zhao gestured that they were now on television. “Hey! What’s going on? I guess we’re back. I didn’t know that; I just started talking.” In response to the director’s anecdote about finding herself ravenously hungry while meeting with Frances McDormand about Nomadland and asking for dairy-free snacks, Rel chortled, “That’s so random.”

And how did Rel close out their interview? By casually suggesting Zhao put him in her next film, which is just good networking. In an evening full of unwieldy, potentially cringeworthy moments, there’s no sigh of relief bigger than realizing you’re in good hands, or, more importantly, hands that are having actual fun. Here’s to Lil Rel Howery hosting a pre-Oscars cocktail hour every year. He’s got the moves down.

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Lil Rel Howery Takes Awkward Oscars Coverage, Makes It Fun