Danica Patrick Proves She’s No Comedian with Her ESPYs Monologue

Two months after retiring as a racecar driver, Danica Patrick hosted the annual ESPY Awards on Wednesday. Her seven-minute monologue received mixed reviews as many of her jokes fell flat with audience members.

Patrick, 36, is the first woman to host the award show, held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. “The ESPYs have never had a host like me before,” she said in her opening monologue. “As you can see, I’m their first race car driver.”

1001451870-594x594 Danica Patrick hosted the 2018 ESPYS in Los Angeles on July 8, 2018. Many of the jokes in her opening monologue fell flat with guests. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“I’ve been coming to the ESPYs for many years and when hosts have singled me out on a joke, I know it is a sign of great respect,” she said. “And I can’t wait to show that same respect to so many of you tonight.”

Many didn’t find Patrick funny. When it comes to jokes at the expense of others, timing is everything. Several of her gags she’d prepared for the show landed with the audience, but for others, her comedic timing was off and it led to some awkward moments.

Throughout her opening monologue, Patrick poked fun at many athletes in the audience including, Jose Altuve, Odell Beckham, LeBron James, J.R. Smith, Tiger Woods, the U.S. soccer team, Chloe Kim, and “Instagram’s Adam Rippon.”

“I’d make a joke about the U.S. soccer team,” Patrick said, “but they didn’t qualify for this monologue.”

Despite it falling flat, Patrick spent a lot of time prepping for the monologue. “For four or five days straight, all you do is you go over it,” Patrick told People magazine before the award show on Wednesday. “You read it, I rewrite it, I make edits, we talk about it, we practice. So it’s like cramming.”

“Everybody is their own person and you have to make the show built around you and your personality. For instance, for me, I’m ready to make jokes about athletes,” she said. “And you got to poke fun at yourself, too, which I’m going to.”

The ESPYs are an annual award ceremony that recognizes the athletic achievements of an individual or team during the calendar year. The show became emotional after the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was presented to the 141 survivors of sexual abuse at the hand of Larry Nassar. This was met with applause, tears, and a standing ovation from the athletes in attendance.

Patrick retired from racing in May after she spun out during the Indianapolis 500 in May and crashed into an outer wall during the 68th lap of the race.

The ESPYs (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) aired Wednesday night on ABC.