Colin Jost and Michael Che opened the 2018 Emmy Awards with a monologue that took on this year’s biggest nominees as well as allegations of sexual harassment around Hollywood, television’s continued diversity issues and the dwindling industry itself. “We just want to say a quick hello to the thousands of you here in the audience tonight, and to the hundreds watching at home,” Jost cracked in the show’s first moments.
During the opening bit, Che welcomed the “many, many talented and creative people in Hollywood who haven’t been caught yet,” and noted that this was first year that Emmy attendees were allowed to drink in the audience. “Because the one thing Hollywood needs right now is people losing their inhibitions at a work function,” Jost joked.
The hosts also pointed out that, this year, Netflix was the most-nominated network, with Jost quipping, “If you’re a network executive, that’s the scariest thing you can possibly hear, except maybe, ‘Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.'”
The Weekend Update hosts also poked fun at nominees like The Handmaid’s Tale (“It’s Roots for white women,” Che cracked) and This Is Us (noting that the show’s next season would focus on one character’s experience in the Vietnam War, Jost quipped, “This was in response to viewers who wrote in and said, ‘Sadder, please.'”). They also pointed out that over the past year, several shows, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man Standing, had been canceled and then swiftly revived. “And Roseanne was canceled by herself but picked up by white nationalists,” Jost added.
Jost and Che also mocked Hollywood’s historical lack of diversity, though they did note that TV networks were trying to remedy that problem with reboots of Magnum, P.I. and Bewitched that would feature a Latino man and a black woman in the starring roles, respectively. “But it’s gonna get balanced out by an all-white reboot of Atlanta called 15 Miles Outside of Atlanta,” Jost cracked. “And it focuses on white women who call the police on the cast of Atlanta.”
Hollywood’s attempts to rectify its diversity issues were also the subject of a pre-monologue musical number led by Jost and Che’s Saturday Night Live castmates, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson. The pair performed a song that cheekily praised the Emmys for solving bigotry in Hollywood, singing, “We solved it, we’ve gotten with the times/ There’s room for all our voices, but mostly Shonda Rhimes.”
The number featured an array of guests — Kristen Bell, Sterling K. Brown, Tituss Burgess, Ricky Martin and John Legend — who helped McKinnon and Thompson belt the track’s “We solved it” refrain. Andy Samberg made a brief cameo as the token white man, though he quickly ushered himself off the stage. But after a performance by the “One of Each Dancers,” RuPaul appeared with a phone call for Thompson.
“Long way to go?” Thompson deadpanned after being informed that they had not in fact solved the diversity problem. “Cart before the horse? Spiking the ball at the 50 yard line?” After hanging up, Thompson thanked RuPaul, and the Drag Race host put a fine point on the bit, cracking, “Wait, hold up, you call me up here for one line in a stupid skit? Y’all ain’t right.”