When Stephen Colbert was announced as the host of the Emmy Awards, fans knew that the event would be full of current political moment. The star's own show has become a nightly source of cutting political commentary. The full transcript of Colbert's opening monologue at the 2017 Emmys shows that there is little political ground he's afraid to take on. If his opening number called out viewers for relying on television too heavily as a means of ignoring the current political moment, his opening remarks took on that moment directly.
Colbert began by taking a a traditional dig at Hollywood's biggest stars. "This is exciting. Can you feel it? This is TV’s greatest honor, us celebrating us. Tonight we binge ourselves. Can you feel it?" he asked. "This room is crackling with the collective energy of people who for the last 48 hours have consumed nothing but distilled water and Crest white strips."
Then the star took a moment to acknowledge that Game of Thrones wouldn't be nominated for the most recent season, which actually opens up the competition to some new shows. Colbert said,
"All the nominees look so beautiful this evening. So happy. Just a reminder if you do win, don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you get up here, namely 'Game of Thrones' for not being eligible this year."
He then continued with some routine thank yous to the network, but he was also sure to recognize the first responders who helped people during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey:
"Now, personally I have to take a moment to thank CBS chairman Leslie Moonvez. I literally have to thank him, it’s in my contract. Unfortunately Les could not be here tonight to receive my gratitude so I accept it on his behalf. But while were thanking people, nobody deserves more thanks right now than our first responders ."
Elaborating on first responders' impact and importance, the host added,
"They have been working tirelessly following the disaster in Texas and Florida, and we have to thank also the friends who showed up with the food, the neighbors with boats, that nuns with chainsaws, the complete strangers who stepped up to help rebuild. And if you haven’t donated to hurricane relief yet you still can by going to handinhand2017.com and giving generously. I believe Billy Eichner is still standing by to take your call."
Finally, Colbert turned his attention toward Donald Trump, who is likely to be on the receiving end of most of the night's biggest burns.
"What a year it has been for television, the industry is booming, there are over 450 original scripted shows made this year. Of course there’s no way anyone could actually watch that much TV, other than the president, who seems to have a lot of time for that sort of thing. Hello sir, thank you for joining us! Looking forward to the tweets."
Of course, this is the first time that most of the Emmy-nominated shows find a home on streaming networks and joked about this shift appropriately. Colbert elaborated,
"And there have never been more platforms to get your TV than right now. You have broadcast, cable, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Voodoo, Netflix, Vitamix, Crackle, crumble, bumble, Bber eyeball, and DintyMooreStew.com. Dinty Moore has a 10 episode deal with Martin Scorcese. Rumor is Levi Schrieber is playing a brooding chunk of meat.
Of course, these days everybody loves streaming video. Just ask Ted Cruz. But knock first, you don’t want to just walk in."
And, no joke about technology would be complete without one comment on Ted Cruz, whose Twitter account recently liked a pornographic video.
"Netflix alone racked in 92 Emmy nominations this year. And may I remind you, five years ago their hottest show was a scratched DVD of 'Finding Nemo.'
Now we have amazing shows like Stranger Things, Millie Bobbie Brown is here tonight. She’s amazing in that show, proving once and for all that there are roles in Hollywood for women over 12. Of course, premium cable still has a ton of great shows. I am sure HBO will take home a lot of Emmys tonight, which they will have to melt down to pay for next year’s hacker ransom. Too soon?"
More Donald Trump jokes ensued, and Colbert's ability to seamlessly work them into the monologue is noteworthy:
"Broadcast TV also had its triumphs this year. Remember broadcast, the TV OG, where it all started? Broadcast TV is breaking new ground — in fact, this season, CBS will have twice as many Sheldon’s as any other network in history."
Much like all of us, Colbert needs to know what happens to Milo Ventimiglia's character on This Is Us, but unfortunately he wasn't able to get the fans any answers. He explained,
"All the broadcast networks have put out great shows the past year, like 'This Is Us,' but seriously Milo you’re gonna die this season, right? Just give us a hint. You slip in a bathtub? Is it bad clams, are you mauled by a circus lion in a convenience store, what happens? I’m just saying, your fans want to see you dead. It’s a compliment."
Then in one of the most jaw-dropping moments, Colbert continued,
"And this has been a great year for diversity in television. In fact, for the third year in a row, this is the most diverse group of nominees in history.
That’s impressive. I did not know you could applaud while patting yourself on the back at the same time. And there are so many talented African-American nominees. Jeffrey Wright. Viola Davis. Samira Wiley. Uzo Aduba. Anthony Anderson from ABC’s 'black-ish.' And of course Bill Maher. I assume he’s back since he’s so comfortable using the n-word. I don’t know. Goodnight, that’s my time everybody."
Colbert walked off the stage with that one, before returning and shouting out one of Hollywood's most talented. He said,
"There’s so many stars here tonight. Oprah. Oprah’s in the front row right now. Oprah was snubbed this year. What is wrong with you people? What in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is wrong with you people? I’m really sorry, Oprah, I was hoping this would be your breakout year. Hopefully, next year you’ll have a better seat. I’m sorry."
After that, he touched on Saturday Night Live, as well as one of Trump's more surprising decisions. Colbert said,
"But, if we’re honest with ourselves and as artists I think we have to be honest with ourselves, we know that the biggest TV star of the last year is Donald Trump. I mean, I like him. 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. However you feel about the president and you do feel about the president, you can’t deny that every show is influenced by Donald Trump in some way. All the late night shows, obviously. 'House of Cards.' The new season of 'American Horror Story.' And of course next year’s Latin Grammys, hosted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Muy caliente."
Continuing the trend of going in on Trump, Colbert brought up a seemingly sore subject. He told the crowd,
"And we all know the Emmys mean a lot to Donald Trump, because he was nominated multiple times for 'The Apprentice,' but he never won. Why didn’t you give him an Emmy? I tell you this, if he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn’t have run for president. So in a way, this is all your fault. I thought you people loved morally compromised antiheroes. You like Walter White. He’s just Walter Much Whiter. And he never forgave you and he never will. The president has complained repeatedly that the Emmys are rigged. He even went after the host a few years back tweeting, 'That Seth Meyers is hosting the Emmy Awards is a total joke. He is very awkward with almost no talent. Marbles in his mouth.' Well, 'marbles in his mouth,' that’s harsh. That’s quite an accusation. Any response, Seth?"
At that moment, the camera flawlessly panned to Meyers, who had literal marbles drop from his mouth. A+ timing there.
And then Colbert only continued to hammer his point home:
"Even during the campaign, Trump would not let it go. This exchange actually happened in the debates. ('There was even a time when he didn’t win an Emmy for his show three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.' 'Should’ve gotten it.') But he didn’t. Because unlike the presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote. Where do I find the courage to tell that joke in this room?"
Yikes to that popular vote joke. He then emphasized what seemingly matters most to the U.S. leader by adding,
"Of course what really matters to Donald Trump is ratings. You gotta have the big numbers. I certainly hope we achieve that tonight. Unfortunately, at this point, we have no way of knowing how big our audience is? Sean, do you know?"
Spicer then appeared on screen — podium and all — to say, "This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys period. Both in person and around the world." Then, Colbert wrapped it up with the ultimate kicker.
"Wow, that really soothes my fragile ego. I can understand why he’d want one of these guys around. Melissa McCarthy, everyone, give it up."
And there you have it — Colbert's Trump-filled speech, in full. Honestly, did you expect anything less from one of the kings of latenight?