Stephen Colbert fans expected the Emmy host to come out swinging against his favorite target.
It took a few minutes, but eventually, President Donald Trump was all that Colbert could talk about.
One of the first digs was during the show’s cold open musical act, when Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus sang, “Imagine if your President wasn’t loved by Nazis.”
Then the CBS Late Show host took the stage for the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony started by tackling the status of television as a whole. But then there was this: “There are 450 scripted shows … there’s no way anyone who could possibly watch all that TV, other than the president. Hello sir, thank you for joining us. Looking forward to the tweets.”
He later added, “The biggest TV star of the last year is Donald Trump. And, you know, Alec Baldwin. You guys are neck and neck, and Alec, you are up against a lot of neck.”
Said Colbert: “You cannot deny every Trump has been influenced by Trump in some way. All the late night shows, House of Cards, American Horror Story, and next year’s Latin Grammys, hosted by Sherrif Joe Arpaio.”
The emcee then noted how much the Emmy Awards mean to Trump, who was nominated multiple times for the Celebrity Apprentice but never won. “Why didn’t you give him an Emmy? If he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn’t have run for president,” Colbert joked. “In a way, this is all your fault. I thought you people love morally compromised anti-heroes. You love Walter White. He’s Walter-much-whiter.”
“The president has complained the Emmys are rigged,” Colbert added, before playing a video from the presidential debates where Trump said in response to Hillary Clinton mocking him for claiming the Emmy Awards were fixed that he “should have gotten” an award. Then Colbert continued: “But he didn’t. Because unlike the presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote” — which got a big reaction in the room. “Where do I find the courage to tell that joke in this room?”
There were a couple non-Trump political jokes as well, such as:
— “These days, everyone loves streaming video — just ask Ted Cruz. But knock first, you don’t just want to walk in.”
— “Bill Maher, I assume he’s black since he’s so comfortable using the n-word.”
Colbert has found ratings success and critical acclaim since sharpening his attacks against Trump this year, though his jokes have not been without controversy. Earlier this month, Colbert drew heat for mocking the president by doing a Nazi salute on air. And in May, Colbert used a rather profane term to make a joke about the president’s relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Before the ceremony, Colbert told CBS news that Trump was the biggest star in television: “The biggest TV star of this year is undoubtedly Donald Trump,” Colbert said. “No one’s close. You know, how like the Bible outsells every book of all time. Donald Trump is the Bible of the 2016-2017 television season. If you don’t include Donald Trump as a TV star this year, you’re lying.”