"This may be the saddest Emmys of all time, but we could not be happier," he said.
The CBS telecast, hosted with gusto by Neil Patrick Harris, was smothered by five "in memoriam" tributes to individuals as well as a montage late in the telecast. It was, in a word, a bummer.
Harris tried to bring up the energy with jokes and a mid-broadcast song-and-dance number called "The Number in the Middle of the Show." But nothing seemed to help. Every time the show got moving, a tribute cast a pall over the proceedings.
Most of the presenter banter was strained and only a few acceptance speeches drew laughs. Here are the night's best moments, which were few. (Click through the gallery at top of page for images from the telecast.)
Accepting the variety series Emmy for "The Colbert Report," Colbert cracked, "It's a cliche to say it's an honor just to be nominated. It's more than that; it's also a lie. This is way better." When he accepted the writing award, he said, "Wow, the Emmys are so good this year." If only that were true.
In a pre-taped howler, the cast of "How I Met Your Mother" do a commercial for the Ryan Seacrest Center for Excessive Hosting, where they send Neil Patrick Harris because he is suffering from Excessive Hosting Disorder.
Awards imitate art
When Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepted her award for "Veep." fellow winner and costar Tony Hale followed her to the stage, standing behind her just like his "Veep" character does in the show. He whispered names and comments into her ear so she could complete her speech.
Merritt Wever, a surprise supporting actress winner for "Nurse Jackie," was rendered pretty much speechless, thus delivering the night's most honest and brief acceptance. "Thank you so much," she said. "I gotta go. Bye."
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey show why they are the funniest ladies of the moment, again. During Harris' opening skit in which past hosts offered him advice, the women cat call him from the audience with comments like,
"Take your pants off! And twerk it!" When he said that would be degrading, Poehler responded, "It might be degrading, but we would be de-grateful."
Diahann Carroll, who was the first African-American to win in Emmy way back when, showed she's still a pro. "It's been such a long time since I've been standing in this place, I don't know what to do," Carroll said. "But the men are much more beautiful than when I was doing television. I don't know where you came from, but I'm very happy to see you."