Emmy hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost emerged Monday clad in tuxedos. But for a moment they looked almost naked without their usual “Weekend Update” news desk to give them cover.
It didn’t take them long, though, to stand and deliver.
“It is an honor to be here sharing the night with the many, many talented and creative people in Hollywood who haven’t been caught yet,” Che quipped.
The line proved among the strongest on a night where the “Saturday Night Live” duo, for the most part, succeeded in wringing uneasy laughs out of the entertainment industry’s lack of diversity and its mounting reckoning over a culture of sexism and far worse.
Unfamiliar setting aside, Che and Jost didn’t deviate much from their “Weekend Update” approach.
They outsourced segments to “SNL” co-stars: Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson led a star-studded, if so-so, opening musical number mocking Hollywood’s poor inclusion record. Show alumni Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen appeared in a moderately amusing recurring bit about Emmy history.
They kept to their own style: snarky Jost gave a shout-out to the “hundreds watching at home,” while blunt Che described “The Handmaid’s Tale” as “'Roots' with bonnets.”
Yet they maintained the easy rapport that’s seen them through four seasons together on “Weekend Update” — even if Che went solo for a sweet and funny video of him giving “Reparations Emmys” to African-American sitcom stars of years past, Marla Gibbs, Jimmie Walker and Jaleel White, among them.
Che and Jost largely kept TV’s biggest night moving, even if keeping things light proved a challenge during Emmy’s 70th outing (among the differences between the first awards in 1949 and now is that back then “we all agreed Nazis were bad,” Jost noted).
A breakout performance eluded the two, at least compared to former “SNL”/”Weekend Update” star Jimmy Fallon’s 2010 rollicking 2010 bow, which helped to eventually propel him to "The Tonight Show."
And other moments — 96-year-old Betty White’s heartfelt speech, an “in memoriam” segment set to Aretha Franklin’s classic version of “Amazing Grace” and Emmy-winning director Glenn Weiss’ surprise proposal to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen — overshadowed Che and Jost.
But the pair appeared happy enough to share the stage as they showed they're as fast on their feet as they are behind a desk.