Seth MacFarlane looks good in a tux. He knows his way around a showtune. And he can milk laughs from a stuffed animal.
So, is there anything for the fresh face of Sunday's Oscars telecast to worry about?
Not if he follows this to-do list for the successful first-time host:
1. Follow a Disaster: At the 1990 Oscars, a year after Rob Lowe and a certain Disney heroine brought the house down in wrecking-ball fashion, the first words out of Billy Crystal's mouth were, "Is that [applause] for me, or are you just glad I'm not Snow White?" The line got a big laugh, Crystal moved onto Jack Nicholson jokes and the first of the comic's nine Academy Award shows was successfully launched.
As MacFarlane's luck would have it, the Family Guy guy is following Crystal's most recent stint, and while that outing was hardly a disaster, it was hardly Crystal's finest three hours. On the downside, MacFarlane is also following Tina Fey's and Amy Poehler's Golden Globes, which was anything but a disaster.
2. Set a Tone, Stick to the Tone: The 2007 Ellen DeGeneres Oscars started with an Errol Morris-directed, interview-style segment that generously featured dozens of nominees, even the un-famous ones. From there, DeGeneres went on to celebrate that year's Academy class—there were jibes, sure, but there was also the idea that nobody there that night was going to lose. It worked.
3. Do the Show With Steve Martin: Granted, this bit of advice isn't going to work for MacFarlane, who's solo, but, really, it worked wonders for Alec Baldwin.
4. Be Yourself, or an Approximation Thereof: DeGeneres and Martin were their smart stand-up selves; Johnny Carson was his puckish Tonight Show self, only in a white tie and tails. MacFarlane will have to finesse this point as only viewers of the Charlie Sheen roast know approximately what his live-action stage persona is, but as long as he's sure what he is, then everybody should be fine.
5. If You Can't Be Yourself, Then Be Hugh Jackman: All first-time hosts should be as commanding as the 2009 show's star.
6. Whatever It Was That James Franco Was Doing, Don't Do That: We are serious: Don't. Do. That.
7. Confer With Whoopi Goldberg: In 1994, Goldberg had to follow Crystal, who, at the time, had killed on the telecast for four straight years. On top of that, she got stuck, as it were, with Schindler's List, which though a powerful film isn't exactly a comedy goldmine. Goldberg owned up to the handicaps in her opening monologue, and she owned the show, surviving to host again.
8. Become a Second-Time Host: With certain exceptions, notably DeGeneres and Jackman, if you only host once, then your stint is perceived to have been a disaster, even if it wasn't. Hi, Chris Rock and David Letterman.