Helming a major awards show is ostensibly an honor, but increasingly, in the world of live-tweeting, it's a thankless assignment—and one that was made even more tedious this year by the fact that the Emmy telecast was held on a Monday. Did Meyers rise to the occasion?
Walking the red carpet before the show, the first-time host told E! that he’d focus his barbs on “what’s happening in the world of television,” as opposed to taking stabs at individual shows or actors, and held true to his word.
Reflecting on Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards—which have been cited by many as the reason the Emmys were bumped to Monday for the first time in nearly 40 years, even though the real culprit was preseason football—Meyers lampooned the irony of MTV handing out awards for music videos, which are at best a rarity on the channel anymore. “That’s like network TV holding an awards show and giving all the trophies to cable and Netflix,” Meyers quipped. “That would be crazy.”
His more biting jokes included a stab at Orange Is the New Black, which raised eyebrows earlier this year when it was submitted in the comedy category. “We had comedies that made you laugh, and comedies that made you cry... because they were dramas submitted as comedies,” Meyers quipped.
Employing the same play-it-safe approach he used as the host of Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” Meyers went for chuckles, not guffaws, and succeeded in being inoffensive—but he also came off more like a warm-up act than the main attraction. Even Ricky Gervais was more pointed when he presented the award for Best Writing for a Variety Special, taking a jab at four-time winner Jim Parsons, who'd beaten Gervais in the Best Lead Actor in a Comedy category earlier in the evening.
And that’s unsurprising. As the newly minted host of Late Night with Seth Meyers, Meyers was in the same rock-and-a-hard-place quandary that previous hosts Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O’Brien have faced in the past: He will eventually find himself interviewing many of the nominees (or at least requesting an appearance from them) on Late Night. So, perhaps the Academy should look outside the realm of talk shows in the future? I’d like to nominate Julia Louis-Dreyfus, personally—but that’s another conversation.
All of this is not to say that Meyers was a poor host. His “Weekend Update”-style opening monologue consisted mostly of one-liners and his signature smirk, after a beat. Among the more noteworthy zingers were:
– “HBO is like the kid you grew up with who ended up doing way better than you expected.”
– “If you’re an actor on Game of Thrones, I imagine you wait for next week’s script the way most people wait for biopsy results.”
– And, while offering advice to showrunners regarding what to do once a series begins to gain ratings and critical acclaim: “Kill off all the main characters—otherwise, before you know it, you’re paying Sheldon a million dollars an episode.”
Meyers’ best bit by far was a pre-taped Emmy edition of Billy on the Street with Billy Eichner, in which the two comedians ran through the streets of New York City and approached random strangers to get their thoughts on this year's nominations and snubs. (Spoiler alert: Most people weren’t aware/didn’t care one way or the other.) A highlight? One man misidentifying Meyers as “Seth MacFarlane.”
A mock Q&A session with celebrities in the audience was pretty grim (although who knew Julianna Margulies had comedy chops?), as was an unexpected performance by “Weird Al” Yankovic, who offered his own take on the theme songs from Mad Men, Homeland, Scandal, Game of Thrones, and Modern Family. But those segments, by design, took the focus off of Meyers and directed it toward his bench players—an odd tactic for a host, but clearly one borrowed from Meyers’ years at SNL.
In his opening monologue, Meyers cracked that no one remembers the 1976 Emmys because they were held on a Monday. For better or worse, Meyers didn’t do anything to help the 2014 Emmys stand out—but maybe that’s just what NBC was going for.
What did you think of Meyers' turn as host?
AIRED ON 9/18/2016
Season 68 : Episode 1