How Jimmy Kimmel Still Got a Standing Ovation During His Emmys Opening Monologue

The late-night host returned to host his third Emmys on Sunday -- with Jennifer Aniston onstage to support.

Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the 2020 Emmys on Sunday amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- because, as he joked, you can't have a virus without a host. 

"Hello, and welcome to the Pand-Emmys! It's great to finally see people again," he cracked, as old shots of stars clapping in the audience played. "Thank you for risking everything to be here, thank me for risking everything to be here. You know what they say, you can't have a virus without a host." 

"Why are we having an awards show in the middle of a pandemic, and what the hell am I doing here? This is the year they decide to have a host?" he continued. 

Kimmel noted it might seem "frivolous and unnecessary" to hold an awards show right now, but shared that amid social injustices, lockdowns and deaths occurring, this is the time we might need it most. "Right now, we need fun. My god, do we need fun," he said. 

The host previewed the night to come, before offering viewers a peek at how the Emmy team is bringing it all together this year. After taking some hand sanitizer from an Emmy-shaped bottle, Kimmel walked over to a giant screen with the night's nominees -- whom they're planning to feed in for each award. 

"What could possibly go right?" Kimmel jokingly asked. 

On the premises was DJ D-Nice, who would be providing some music as the show went without an orchestra. Jennifer Aniston was onstage with Kimmel, too -- though with social distancing protocols, the pair couldn't exactly have a real conversation. 

For this year's unusual ceremony amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kimmel is broadcasting live from Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles instead of onstage from the Emmys' usual home in the nearby Microsoft Theater. The awards show is following strict social distancing guidelines, which means there is no live audience, no red carpet and no pre-show on Emmy night.

"The Staples Center makes sense because it's so big," Michael Schneider, Variety's Senior Editor of TV Awards, told ET last month of the Emmys' new location. "If you want to socially distance your crew, keep them safe, that's a huge venue."

Without nominees present to collect their awards in person, the Emmys are adopting an alternative solution for acceptance speeches: going to where the nominees are. 

Producers are using up to 140 live feeds from the nominees' various locations -- whether at their home in the U.S. or abroad -- that will beam in live into Staples Center. State-of-the-art cameras will be provided to ensure high-quality feeds will be available for the broadcast. Translation: No grainy Zoom videos here.

After the Emmy nominations were announced in July (perhaps an early preview of what the ceremony may look like), producers sent a letter to select nominees about their plans for the virtual ceremony.

"As you’ve probably guessed, we’re not going to be asking you to come to the Microsoft Theatre [sic] in downtown L.A. on September 20th," the letter read, as obtained by multiple outlets.

The producers “are assembling a top notch team of technicians, producers and writers to work closely with Jimmy Kimmel and with you and your team, to make sure that we can film with you (and loved ones or whomever else you choose to be with) at your home, or another location of your choice. We’re going to make you look fabulous -- we’re exploring the cutting edge of technology to allow to use good cameras and lighting and look forward to working with you to produce your unique 'on screen' moments," the letter continued.

Watchmen is the most-nominated program at this year's awards show, with 26 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Regina King and more. Other top nominees include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Mandalorian, Ozark, Schitt's Creek and Succession. Tyler Perry, along with his charity, The Perry Foundation, will receive the Governors Award.

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards are live Sunday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC.

See more of Kimmel's best Emmy moments in the video below.


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