By James Hibberd
Updated September 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The bar for “funny” on TV is rarely lower than on award shows, where only the most cautious of jokes tend to slip through. But this year, the Emmys seemed more cautious than ever: Alec Baldwin bowed out from the ceremony after his telephone hacking scandal joke was cut from the opening skit (Leonard Nimoy took his place). And the running gag behind usual award show rebel Ricky Gervais’ taped segment was about how he was not allowed to insult anybody. Still, some witty lines made the cut and here they are:

— “There’s Betty White, she’s the reason we start the show at 5 p.m.” — host Jane Lynch.

— “I don’t know what I’m going to talk about in therapy now” — Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen.

— “Oh, poor little Ricky Gervais, someone didn’t get enough hugs from Mommy and somehow it’s Hollywood’s fault” — Lynch.

— “I was wondering where the half man was” — Ashton Kutcher when he “accidentally” showed up on The Office set.

— “A lot of people are very curious why I’m a lesbian … Ladies and gentleman, the cast of Entourage” — Lynch.

— “There are so many movie stars doing TV now that TV stars have been forced into providing voices for video games. And those very same video games are then turned into movies starring the very same people who put the TV stars out of work in the first place. Hakuna Matata, my friends, circle of life?” — Lynch.

— Noting that he was recently approached by gay couple thanking him because Modern Family makes viewers more tolerant, showrunner Steve Levitan agreed: “There’s nothing wrong with a loving, committed relationship between an old man and a hot young woman — and looking around the room tonight, I see many of you agree.”

Of course, as readers pointed out below, the best joke of the night wasn’t verbal — Amy Poehler and company going on stage when their names were read as nominees.