Weeks after leaving his job, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was onstage at the Emmy Awards on Sunday joking about one of his first — and more dubious — claims from the press room.
Host Stephen Colbert, playing the straight man in his opening monologue, said it was difficult to tell how many people would be watching the show. At that point, Spicer wheeled a podium onto the Los Angeles stage.
“This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys period, both in person and around the world,” Spicer said. The reference was to his Inauguration Day claims, contradicted by photos, about how big the audience was for President Donald Trump’s oath of office.
“Wow,” Colbert replied. “That really soothes my fragile ego.”
Even without Spicer’s surprise appearance, politics couldn’t help but make its way onto the Emmy Awards stage, especially since Colbert noted that Trump was the biggest TV star of the year.
Spicer’s joke rubbed several people the wrong way on social media, and Colbert didn’t let him off the hook, either. Pointing out Robert DeNiro in the audience, he noted that the actor had been nominated for his role in the HBO movie “Wizard of Lies” (about Bernard Madoff). Colbert joked that he thought the movie was “The Sean Spicer Story.”
Colbert blamed the Emmys for Trump’s election as president. He suggested if Trump had won an award for “Celebrity Apprentice,” he might not have run for president. He showed a clip of a presidential debate where Trump said he should have won an Emmy.
“Unlike the presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote,” he said.
Actor Alec Baldwin, who won a comedy supporting actor award for his memorable impersonations of Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” couldn’t resist picking up that baton when he grasped his trophy.
“I suppose I should say, at long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” he said.
“SNL” had a smash year with its political comedy, led particularly by Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy’s impersonation of Spicer. It dominated the Emmys, too, with the show winning for variety sketch series and Kate McKinnon, who portrayed Hillary Clinton, taking a supporting actress award. McKinnon thanked Clinton from the stage for her “grace and grit.”
Three acting veterans got in the toughest shot at Trump — without mentioning his name. Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the stars of the movie “Nine to Five,” appeared to present an award.
“Back in 1980 in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” Fonda said.
“And in 2017,” Tomlin added, “we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”