"We're all going to be very nice to each other."
That's what Stephen Colbert told ET ahead of hosting the 2017 Emmys, when asked whether anyone in the audience needed to be worried about his opening monologue. And come Sunday, he did play nicely with everyone -- except Donald Trump, who he had absolutely no problem repeatedly calling out.
"Of course, there's no way anyone could possibly watch that much TV. Except the president, who seems to have a lot of time for that sort of thing," Colbert cracked, then looked straight into the camera to give a shout out to the president in. "Good to have you with us. Looking forward to the tweets."
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The monologue began with a pre-record segment of Colbert in a blacksmith shop as he finished making the Emmys. Anthony Anderson and Allison Janney popped in, with the latter commenting on how crazy things are lately: "Our leaders are fighting. I hear HBO is bringing back the confederacy."
With that, Colbert launched into an increasingly political song and dance number about how everything is better on TV.
"Turn on every channel, well, except the news. Because troubles aren't so troubling when you see them in HD," he recited as he threw tissues behind the cast of This Is Us ("It feels so good to feel so sad!") and danced in the woods with the Stranger Things cast.
The number then tackled in rapid fire:
White supremacy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus popped up as her Veep character Selina Meyer to say, "Imagine if your president was not beloved by Nazis"
Russia: "Even treason is better when it's on TV," Colbert said in the backseat of a car driven Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in full-on The Americans disguises.
Police brutality and Trump's transgender military ban: "I love television. It's a pleasant distraction, but just imagine taking action," Chance the Rapper explained in a woke AF feature about the former ("I love Brooklyn Nine Nine, in fact I'm addicted / But where's the cop show where one gets convicted?") and the latter ("I miss the classics. I still think M*A*S*H rocks. But if Hawkeye can be a solider, why not Laverne Cox?")
Colbert arrived onstage with a posse of handmaids from The Handmaid's Tale, who ripped off their red robes to reveal sparkly leotards and danced in their bonnets. "This is TV's highest honors," Colbert told the crowd. "Us, celebrating us. Tonight, we binge ourselves."
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While Colbert had plenty of jokes about Netflix and Game of Thrones ("Just a reminder, if you do win, don't forget to help everyone who got you up here. Mainly Game of Thrones for not being eligible this year.), the majority of the monologue skewed political. Billy Eichner encouraged donations to Hand in Hand and Ted Cruz was the subject of a very subtle and very NSFW streaming joke.
Here is a rundown of Colbert's best jokes, including many about Trump:
On Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown: "She's amazing in that show, proving once and for all, there are roles in Hollywood for women over 12."
On This Is Us season two: "But seriously, Milo, you're going to die this season right?" Colbert asked if his character, Jack, might slip in the show or eat bad clams. "I'm just saying, your fans want to see you dead. It's a compliment."
On the most diverse nominees in Emmy history: "That's impressive. I didn't know you could applaud while patting yourself on the back at the same time." He mentioned nominees like Anderson and Viola Davis. "And Bill Maher. I assume he's black since he's so comfortable using the N-word."
On Trump: "We know that the biggest TV star of the last year was Donald Trump. You may not like it, but he's the biggest star. And Alec Baldwin, obviously. You guys are neck and neck, and Alec, you're up against a lot of neck."
"He was nominated multiple times for Celebrity Apprentice and never won. Why did you not give him an Emmy?...If he had an Emmy, he would not have run for president." He continued, "He never forgave you and he never will. The president has complained repeatedly that the Emmys are rigged," cuing a debates clip where Trump said he, "Shoulda gotten it."
"But he didn't," Colbert quipped. "Because unlike the presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote."