Quips and comedy awards at the 60th Primetime Emmys

"What if I just kept talking for 12 minutes? What would happen? That was the opener." — Jeremy Piven, winning his third consecutive Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy for Entourage. The hosts talked for only five minutes, Piven. It just felt like 12. Having the five nominees for reality show host host the Emmys was a downright dreadful idea, and somehow even worse in the execution.

"I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of a television program that promotes the gratuitous indulgence of self-gratification. But enough about the Emmys." — Julia Louis-Dreyfus, after a clip from "The Contest" episode of Seinfeld.

Perhaps the funniest bit: When Ricky Gervais came out and entered a staredown shakedown with Steve Carrel, who accepted Gervais’ Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy last year. It began with Gervais: "I couldn’t come last year, which was a shame, but I still won. Do you remember? Thanks for that. The press called it a major upset, which means they thought I shouldn’t have won. They’ve asked me to give you some pointers on how to make a good acceptance speech. I don’t know why, as I’ve never made one, I wasn’t here. Still won one, though. Keep it short….please keep it short, particularly if you’re not onscreen talent. No one wants to hear from a producer. Don’t cry. It’s pathetic. It’s just an award" He introduced a clip package of acceptances. And then he turned his attention to Carrel. Mocking him mercilessly in the front row. Carrel kept a straight face, mostly. Gervais asked: "Have you even been to see Ghost Town yet? No. I sat through Evan Almighty. Give me my Emmy!" He finally got his Emmy and could hold it aloft on live TV.

"Let’s face it, we all owe a great deal to The Simpsons, but I owe more than most. You see, one of my first big jobs in television was writing dialogue for Bart Simpson. It was then I realized that a guy with crazy hair and a girl’s voice could make it in this business." — Conan O’Brien, and then a moment or two later: "You know, at this point I had planned on doing a few more jokes, but Katherine Heigl told me she didn’t think my material was Emmy-worthy."

The outstanding writing nominees: The Colbert Report writers all partied around the set of their upcoming Christmas special; The Daily Show nominees showed political convention crazies instead; Conan’s writers went with a big family photo of kids, zooming out to show them posing with Conan and Angelina Jolie; Letterman’s writers got dismissive comments from Dr. Phil; SNL went with Wii characters. Colbert’s team won and he went sincere in his acceptance speech. Who knew?

"Thank you. I’m Steve Martin, and I’ll be out here in just a minute." — Steve Martin

Cast members from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In returned four decades later for a nostalgic bit introducing the nominees for Outstanding Variety, Comedy or Music Program. "Without Laugh-In, I don’t know if I do comedy." — Jon Stewart

"It’s great to be a writer, because when you’re at a wedding, or something, and you tell people you’re a writer, they’re less interested in talking to you than if you tell them you’re an actor. Which is great." — Tina Fey

Colbert and Stewart presented the outstanding miniseries or special, and Colbert pulled out a bag of prunes and began eating. No politics, they say? The camera cut away, for reasons unknown. "I think right now, America needs a prune. It might not be a young, sexy plum," Colbert said. "Granted, it is shriveled, and at times, hard to swallow. But this dried up old prune has the experience we need." Stewart, what say you? "You know, after eight years of prunes, you would think…" Colbert: "Never enough. What could possibly go wrong?" Call the Prune Council! Is there a Prune Council? If so, they’re probably not happy.

Don Rickles went off-script, though for some reason, his co-presenter Kathy Griffin would not go gently with him into the cold, cold wind of ad-libbing, as she kept trying to read the prompter. "That was very sweet of you guys to stand. Next time, just leave a check at the door," Rickles said…"Let’s read these funny lines they wrote for us." Eye roll! Later, when he won an individual Emmy, he said this was the biggest award since "an ash tray from the Friars Club in New York." He thanked his wife, told the story of when they met, then said: "She just sits in Malibu, in the sand, with the jewelry, signaling ships."

Tom Hanks, accepting for best miniseries for HBO’s John Adams, had a weird nostalgic Forrest Gump exchange with presenter/Gump momma Sally Field.

Also nice to see Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White as part of the 60th anniversary festivities. And when they said 30 Rock was best comedy for a second consecutive year, Tina Fey felt she needed to make a plea as bold as the Arrested Development folks had made to keep the show running for another season, telling viewers to find them on NBC.com, Hulu.com, Verizon phones, United Airlines and sometimes on TV, including 9:30 p.m. Oct. 30 on NBC.

List of comedy Emmy winners after the jump!

Supporting Actor, Comedy: Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Supporting Actress, Comedy: Jean Smart, Samantha Who?
Writing for a Variety, Comedy or Music Program: The Colbert Report
Variety, Comedy or Music Program: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Directing for a Comedy Series: Barry Sonnenfeld, Pushing Daises ("Pie-lette")
Writing for a Comedy Series: Tina Fey, 30 Rock ("Cooter")
Individual performance in Variety/Music: Don Rickles
Actor, Comedy: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Actress, Comedy: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Comedy: 30 Rock

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →