Anthony Anderson is a first-time host at this year's Emmy Awards. It's a daunting task, sure. And thanks to Jo Koy bombing at the Golden Globe Awards, it's clear that a light roasting of all the most famous people in Hollywood can make for a tough crowd—if the jokes don't land. Luckily, the black-ish star borrowed a page or two from John Mulaney's successful gig at the Governors Awards and proved that celebrities are still down to laugh at themselves.
Anderson also had some help, too. The Emmys only celebrate the year's performances in television, so there was no need to enter the danger zone by comparing Oppenheimer to Barbie. Other off-limit topics—such as Bradley Cooper's fake nose in Maestro and Taylor Swift's appearances at Chiefs games—were also punted safely out of the monologue.
Instead, Anderson stuck to the hits. This year's show is celebrating 75 years by paying homage to classics such as Cheers, Good Times, I Love Lucy, The Facts of Life, and the HBO primetime hit, The Sopranos. The black-ish star walked out and put on his jacket during a riff of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood, welcoming the audience "on this beautiful MLK Day."He also used his monologue to tell (and sing!) a personal story about growing up and watching old television shows. "Television has shaped the world," he said." More importantly, it's shaped me."
Anderson also joked about having a white person in his Compton choir, stating that Yellowstone's Kevin Costner was also from Compton. "I wonder if he was a blood or a crip," Anderson mused, before shouting, "Yellowstone!" Travis Barker even showed up to perform Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight" during a short tribute to Miami Vice.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 16, 2024
After the medley, the Anderson introduced his mother to the crowd. Her job is to stop people from speaking too long during their acceptance speeches, he said, because she wanted to get to the damn afterparty already. "Tonight, my momma, she is going to be the Emmys playoff momma," he announced. There were no jokes about the way Succession ended, how ripped Jeremy Allen White is on The Bear, how life is like being trapped in The White Lotus resort, or any highlights of the other series that were sure to sweep the competition at the annual awards show. Anderson simply bowed out of his monologue after just six minutes—when his mother stood up and told him to get off the stage and start the show already.
Though Anderson kept the topic out of his monologue, the number of acting and writing awards given out at this year's ceremony may also prompt a fair amount of winners to dedicate time in their acceptance speeches to the need for better working conditions following the major SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes that occurred this past year.
— Television Academy (@TelevisionAcad) January 16, 2024
To cap off his monologue, Anderson introduced a surprise appearance from Christina Applegate. The actress was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis back in 2021, with Anderson joking at the Emmys, "You are totally shaming me with disability by standing up." Applegate then handed out the first award of the night to Ayo Edibiri for her supporting role on The Bear. Just watch out for Anderson's mother during those acceptance speeches. She will cut you off.
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