Jan. 5, 2012 at 4:30 PM ET
Ricky Gervais swore he'd never host the Golden Globes again, but on Jan. 15, he'll be back at it for a third time. The comedian tells TODAY's Matt Lauer that he only agreed to it the first time because he "thought it'd be fun," but now it's evolved into a challenge to get the hosting gig right.
"I got it a bit wrong I think the first time. I tried too hard with the shtick, the comedy, and I should have just gone out there and done zingers, I think, because the attention span of someone at an award show, particularly the Golden Globe, is about a second," Gervais said. "They're drinkin', they're talkin', they're seein' someone. You know, you've gotta grab their attention ... They're there to see if they've won an award, but they don't wanna see this guy come out and telling jokes. Certainly not jokes at their expense."
Still, he says, "I don't know what I did wrong, really. What did I say that was untrue? I made a joke suggesting that Charlie Sheen might like a night out. I said that Robert Downey Jr. spent some time in clinics. And he did. I'm not judging him by that; it's a joke."
Gervais assured Lauer that when showtime comes around, no restrictions will have been placed on him, no topic is off limits. Given the comedian's comfort with a) telling jokes at celebs' expense and b) mining dicey territory for a joke, it's probably fair to expect a controversial performance from Gervais, despite any criticism that's flung his way (Check him out in videos from 2011 and 2010, below).
"I've never really succumbed to peer pressure. And this feeds into my humor. I deal in taboo subjects for that reason .... Not only am I fascinated with them, but I like to take the audience to places that it hasn't been before," the comedian told Lauer. "Otherwise, what's the point? There's enough anodyne comedy out there. And I like that feeling of -- no harm can come with dealing with taboos. You know, they are taboo because people don't deal with them."
Ultimately, this is part of what factors in to what makes Gervais, in his opinion, "bulletproof."
"You eventually come to the conclusion that your reputation is what strangers think of you, but your character is who you really are," Gervais said of taking criticism. "And, again, it just makes you bulletproof. You know? What do I care if someone likes what I do or not? I just don't anymore. If you get your own way, if you get final edit and you enjoy what you're doing and things turn out exactly as you wanted 'em, what -- what else is there?"
Will the third time be the last time, though? Gervais remained positive it wouldn't, but then played coy: "This is -- no one believes me now -- this will be the last time. The last time for a while, at least. What tipped the balance was everyone saying they'd never invite me back."
Gervais promised Lauer the same swagger he displayed during the interview will be on display during the Globes broadcast Jan. 15. "I might even really be drunk," Gervais added.
For more of Lauer's exclusive interview with Gervais, check out the clip above from Friday's TODAY show, or tune into Dateline on Sunday.