In his opening monologue at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, Stephen Colbert wasted no time addressing the elephant
in the room who’s probably watching from the White House: Donald Trump. As usual, Colbert was unforgiving in his critique of the president. He focused his remarks on the ways Hollywood can do its part to stand up to the Trump regime. He singled out Alec Baldwin, the actor who parodied no. 45 last season on Saturday Night Live, reminding him of his obligation to stand “neck to neck” with Trump before making a joke about the president’s unsightly gizzard. Then something shocking happened. Colbert mentioned the size of the Emmys audience and noted, “Unfortunately, at this point we have no way of knowing how big our audience is.” Then, this:
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer emerged from backstage behind a podium with the words “THE EMMYS HOLLYWOOD” emblazoned across it, a facsimile of the one he frequently stood behind at the White House. In rather triumphant “look, they let me in on the joke” fashion, he announced, “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys period. Both in person and around the world.”
This, of course, is not the first time we’ve seen Spicer since he resigned from his post as press secretary two months ago. Earlier this month it was reported that Spicer will embark on a national speaking tour this fall, and just last week he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about his time as a federal employee. Still, it was a strange move for Colbert and CBS to make. Turning Spicer—a key accessory to the same presidential misdeeds that they spent the preceding moments critiquing—into a playful award-show side gag doesn’t exactly keep in step with the Hollywood Must Hold Trump To Task gospel they seemed to be preaching. Regardless, it certainly got a rise out of the members of the audience, including one Melissa McCarthy. And definitely Veep’s Anna Chlumsky:
The moment is already reverberating across the internet and will likely be one of the most memorable moments of the ceremony. Being memorable isn’t always the best thing, though.