Saturday Night Live veteran Kenan Thompson may be a first-time Emmy host, but his opening monologue at the Emmys 2022 was anything but amateur. “It is I, the mayor of television, Kenan Thompson,” the 44-year-old comedian and six-time Emmy nominee began the 74th Emmy Awards to a buzzing crowd at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. “TV is all we have,” he then declared, “from Netflix and chill to Paramount+ and eating dinner alone.”
But despite an onslaught of TV currently on the air, puzzlingly enough, a top-hat-clad Thompson’s opening monologue was largely an ode to TV that is no longer airing.
At one point, he danced along to the Friends theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” complete with burnt orange couch and colorful umbrellas. He then quipped: “Eh, you all ever see Living Single? I really think you’d like it,” a nod to the similarities of both ‘90s-era sitcoms. He then appeared as a box in The Brady Bunch family theme song and even introduced a cameo from the cast of the original series. That was followed by performances Thompson as Ice-T in Law & Order and a Targaryen (wig included!) in Game of Thrones. The only nominated show to get a shoutout? That would be Netflix’s Stranger Things, up for 13 Emmys.
In his opening monologue, Thompson avoided any jabs at Will Smith and Chris Rock’s Oscars altercation, although several hours of the show remain. Prior to the telecast, Thompson said that he would resist easy punchlines about the incident—or any humor that could potentially put him in the line of fire. “You know, I’m not going out there like hurting anybody’s feelings for the sake of other people laughing,” he previously told Deadline. “We’re supposed to all be laughing together, even that person the joke is about.”
Thompson also made it clear that he would center his hosting remarks on the year’s biggest nominees, many of which, he confessed to The Los Angeles Times, he had yet to see. “I’m just keeping it natural and watching what looks appealing,” Thompson said of catching up on the most-nominated shows. “But I really should go down the list and comb through everything so at least I know the faces when I run into them.”
If his monologue is any indication, Thompson hasn’t binge-watched too many of this year’s potential winners.
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