Kimmel started the show by welcoming everyone to the “Pan-Demmys.” He then joked, “you can’t have a virus without a host.”
In his opening monologue, Kimmel questioned why hold the ceremony at all: “It might seem frivolous and unnecessary to do this during a global pandemic, but you know what else seems frivolous and unnecessary? Doing it every other year.”
Fact check: true. Hollywood giving itself awards is frivolous and unnecessary.
Still, the crowded audience seemed to be eating it up (laughing harder than the jokes warranted), before the ruse was revealed: the reaction shots were from past years, and the Staples Center was in fact empty, except for a few cardboard cutouts of celebrities in the front rows.
“Of course I’m here all alone, of course we don’t have an audience,” Kimmel said. “This isn’t a MAGA rally – it’s the Emmys!”
The auditorium wasn’t entirely empty, though. Jason Bateman made an appearance as part of a bit during the opening monologue. He was sitting in the audience, trying to blend in with the cardboard cutouts, simply because he was excited to be out of the house after six months of lockdowns. The bit was mildly funny, but it demonstrates how difficult it is to do live comedy without an audience. Everything felt quiet and stilted. The jokes just fell flat, like when a comedian tries to do stand-up comedy over Zoom.
Ironically, Bateman’s career was revived thanks to “Arrested Development,” which was one of the first sitcoms to move away from traditional three-camera studio audience setting to a single-camera format, but that worked due to the ability to edit the show, and add music. But doing a bit live in an empty theater… the empty space was noticeable.
Later in the show, in a nod to “Schitt’s Creek” (which is set in Ontario), Kimmel quipped, “Trump’s gonna build that wall on the northern border!”
Like him or hate him, you gotta admit the president himself could have come up with funnier stuff than these stale jokes. Joe Rogan says the president is funny.
In yet another swipe at Trump, “Barry” actor Anthony Carrigan pretended to be a Russian operative stealing mail-in votes.
Stewie Griffin has the best response: