Jimmy Kimmel took aim at Donald Trump (and his puppet master, Celebrity Apprentice creator and producer Mark Burnett) as well as Dame Maggie Smith and the cast of Game of Thrones in his opening monologue at the Emmys Sunday night, with plenty of comic heat to go around.
Kimmel’s schtick began with a video montage that saw him hitching a ride to the Emmys with the cast of Modern Family, sharing a “Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden, a limo carrying Julia Louis-Dreyfus with Jeb Bush as the driver and ultimately getting dropped off by Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen atop her hulking dragon. Oh, and the dragon breathed fire on Ryan Seacrest, decimating him and the show’s theater.
Once Kimmel safely took the stage flanked by fiery digital screens, he worked through jabs at many of the year’s major nominees. His first order of business was walking Jeffrey Tambor’s automatic-win Emmy to the actor seated in the audience, joking about saving everyone “22 minutes.”
Kimmel had a few lines ready for Sarah Paulson, who brought former O.J. Simpson prosecutor and her American Crime Story character Marcia Clark as her plus-one to the ceremony. Kimmel ribbed her, “So, are you rooting for O.J. to win tonight?”
It was a virtual inevitability that the election would come up in the monologue, and Kimmel didn’t fail to touch on Trump’s incomprehensible rise. Kimmel placed the blame directly on Celebrity Apprentice creator Burnett, who had enabled the candidate by affording him a sensationalist reality platform. “When Trump builds that wall,” Kimmel threatened, “the first one going over is Mark Burnett.”
Kimmel saved some of his best material for, who else, Dame Maggie Smith. The perennial winner for her role as the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey seldom shows up for the ceremony, and Kimmel threatened her with a total revocation of her awards if she fails to come personally collect them. He challenged the 81-year-old actress to “get [her] Dowager Count-ass over here.”