Jimmy Kimmel gave a brilliantly funny opening monologue to the 2016 Emmy Awards taking sharp aim at Dame Maggie Smith and Donald Trump. Before taking the stage he took viewers on a joy ride with a video montage that showcased some of our favorite shows and stars from the year, a ride that started in the backseat of a white bronco.
The driver was Malcolm-Jamal Warner (did you catch the Theo reference?). Their journey was short, as Kimmel then thumbed a ride with Modern Family’s Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) but a smoke bomb derailed that ride. Next up it’s James Corden, and, yes, it’s carpool karaoke time. “You got to sing in the car, Jimmy,” Corden tells him. The song choice: Wham!’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. (bonus laughs for a quick flashback short that had Kimmel spoofing the original 1984 video with Kimmel as a look-alike George Michael in a white “Choose Life” T-shirt with Corden as his wigged dancing sidekick)
Corden thinks Kimmel can’t sing, and out he goes. As for his next ride, he stops a presidential motorcade. It’s Veep’s Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who is on her way to the Awards. “You know you are one of three presidents nominated tonight — you, President Underwood and LBJ?” Kimmel says. But she’s unimpressed over the Emmy Awards (you know it’s not like the Oscars) and closes the window. The driver, however, yells: “There’s plenty of room up front.” Surprise! It’s Jeb Bush.
“Hey, you’re driving?” Kimmel asks.
“Yeah, I’m in between jobs right now,” Bush says. “You know you can make $12 an hour driving for Uber?”
Bush asks if Kimmel’s nominated.
“Yeah,” Kimmel says.
“Wow. What’s that like?”
“You think you can win?”
“There’s a lot of competition. Probably not,” Kimmel says.
“Here’s what I know. If you run a positive campaign, the voters ultimately will make the right choice,” Bush shares.
But Jeb’s over Jimmy and out he goes … “And shave that wig off your face, you Godless Hollywood hippie.”
Kimmel kneels down and prays to the Oprah gods to get him to the Emmy Awards on time, and down swoops Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her dragon from Game of Thrones who transport him to the event. (Kudos to the dragon firebomb that scorched Ryan Seacrest along the way.)
As Kimmel took the stage at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, he had one quick thing to take care of before getting started. “Where is Jeffrey Tambor?” Kimmel asks. Spotted, he runs down and gives him an Emmy. “Alright that saves us 22 minutes,” Kimmel says to solid laughs. As for the rest of you, Kimmel says: “if your show doesn’t have a dragon or a white bronco in it — go home now.”
Second on his target list is The People Vs. O.J. Simpson star Sarah Paulson for her “plus one” guest. Paulson brought Marcia Clark with her. “Now that’s a guest,” Kimmel said. “Because everyone in LA knows if you want to win sit next to Marcia Clark.” Cameras turn to Paulson who gives a joking thumbs-down and boo to the comment. But Kimmel looks to Clark and asks: “This must be very strange for you, are you rooting for OJ to win this time?” She appreciated that one. Next his attentions turn to Paulson’s costar Cuba Gooding Jr., who played O.J. “Cuba Gooding Jr. was so good. He played O.J. so well I now believe Cuba may have done it.”
As we celebrate all the amazing shows this year, Kimmel stopped to credit television for having the ability to make us laugh and cry and in “certain key parts of Game of Thrones — masturbate.” Cameras pan to Jon Snow (Kit Harrington). “Hi Jon Snow. You’re my freebie you know,” he tells him.
For 60 plus years, television continues to surprise us, Kimmel said. He never imagined his favorite TV mom would be Louie Anderson (Louie plays Zach Galifianakas’ mother in the FX series Baskets). “Originally they were going to cast a woman for the role, but it’s very hard to find an actress over 50 who needs a part.”
And he continues with another hot topic in Hollywood — diversity. This year’s nominees are the most diverse ever, Kimmel touts. “And here in Hollywood the only thing we value more than diversity is congratulating ourselves on how much we value diversity. The Emmys are so diverse this year, the Oscars are now telling people we are their closest friends. We’re not by the way.”
In all seriousness (yeah, right) Kimmel asks everyone to take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve all come on the diversity front. “If you’re a person of color – especially if you are a nominee – please find a white person. Go ahead it shouldn’t be hard –just take a moment to reach out and say thanks for your bravery. Make a rainbow connection.”
BUT television can also tear us a part, Kimmel reminds, citing that if it wasn’t for television Donald Trump wouldn’t be running for president. While Kimmel assures the crowd Trump is not in the house (instead “he’s probably quietly rubbing up against his wife Melania while she pretends she is asleep”). Ouch. Then he turns the blame for Trump getting this far in the presidential race on reality TV producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice). “Thanks to Mark Burnett (pictured below) we don’t have to watch reality shows anymore, because we’re living in one.”
“You sneaky little crumpet muncher,” Kimmel calls him. “Who do you have lined up to fill the spot on the Supreme Court? Miley Cyrus or CeeLo? … I’m going on the record right now, if Donald Trump wins and he builds that wall. The first person we’re throwing over it is Mark Burnett. The tribe has spoken.”
As for new business, Kimmel jokes that this year — for the first time ever — you must be present to win. He then begins to lambast Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith for snubbing the Emmy Awards. “The new rule is called the Maggie Smith Rule.” Smith has been nominated for an Emmy nine times. She’s won the Emmy three times. But how many times do you think Maggie Smith has shown up to get the Emmy? Kimmel asks. “That’s right. No times. This year she had a Sunday ceramics class she couldn’t get out of … She goes to other award shows. She showed up at the Oscars to get an Oscar. She showed up at the Tonys. She goes to the Soul Train Awards every year but is she here in the audience tonight? She’s downton absent. What is wrong with us. Why do we keep nominating this woman? She’s treating us like the People’s Choice Awards. I have a message for you Lame Maggie Smith if you’re even bothering to watch: If you want an Emmy you better hop on a plane right now and get your Dowager Countess ass over here.”