Stephen Colbert recruited former White House press secretary Sean Spicer during the hilarious 2017 Emmy Awards opening monologue. “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period – both in person and around the world,” a grinning Spicer, who rode in on a mobile podium, told the audience, poking fun of his outlandish press briefing claim that President Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest in history. Spicer’s Saturday Night Live impersonator Melissa McCarthy was among the many celebs in the audience seen gasping in shock in reaction to his unannounced cameo.
The Late Show host blended political and TV-related commentary throughout his wide-ranging set, with plenty of punchlines directed at Trump. Colbert dubbed the president 2017’s biggest TV star – in a tie with SNL‘s Trump impersonator, Alec Baldwin. “You guys are neck and neck,” he told the actor. “And Alec, you’re up against a lot of neck.”
The comedian blamed the Emmys for Trump’s election win, joking that if the GOP leader’s former reality show, The Apprentice, had won a coveted award, “he wouldn’t have run for president.” In a series of rapid-fire barbs, he called the president (in a Breaking Bad reference) “Walter Much Whiter” and cracked that, unlike presidents, “Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote.”
Colbert opened his sharp monologue by thanking first responders to Hurricane Irma and Harvey (and encouraging viewers to donate via the Hand in Hand 2017 website.) But the tone lightened as the late-night host shifted to wisecracks about the “HBO hacker ransom,” Netflix’s domination in the TV landscape and the overall booming status of streaming video. “These days, everybody loves streaming video,” he said. “Just ask Ted Cruz. But knock first – you don’t wanna just walk in.”
Pre-monologue, the comedian opened the ceremony with a quirky, pre-filmed musical sequence focused on the escapism of modern TV. “Don’t you worry about global warming or the Middle East,” he sang, summarizing some of the evening’s heavily nominated shows – including Stranger Things, Veep and The Americans – that help keep us distracted from the “fears and phobias” dominating America in 2017.
He also offered some practical assistance, crooning, “My HBO Go password is SEXBOT123,” before hitting the Emmys stage with a troop of dancers (male and female) styled like the child-bearing women from Hulu’s dystopic The Handmaid’s Tale.