John Oliver from "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series during the 72nd Emmy Awards telecast on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT/5:00 PM PDT on ABC. (Invision for the Television Academy/AP)

“I don’t really have a sense of whether people are enjoying this or not,” said John Oliver of this year’s Emmy show in the virtual press room of the award ceremony, moments after accepting Outstanding Variety Talk Series for HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” yet again. It’s the fifth consecutive win for the late night show.

The British comedian sat behind a desk from home, dressed down in a Liverpool hoodie.

“Like Jimmy [Kimmel] said at the start, it’s a little confusing as to why the Emmys are happening this year, so I really hope people are enjoying them,” he went on. “It’s very hard to get a sense of whether this is something people are enjoying or not. I guess I’ll look at Twitter later and get the answer.”

Kimmel, the host of the night, was full of jokes as he kicked off the digital 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.

“Well hello and welcome to the Pand-Emmys,” Kimmel began his monologue, wearing a tuxedo. “It’s great to finally see people again. Thank you for risking everything to be here. Thank me for risking everything to be here. You know what they say, you can’t have a virus without a host.”

Jimmy Kimmel at Emmys

Host Jimmy Kimmel presenting the virtual 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.  Courtesy

Soon, Kimmel addressed the question arguably on everyone’s mind: Why have a Hollywood award show in the middle of a pandemic?

“It might seem frivolous and unnecessary….What’s happening tonight is not important,” Kimmel continued. “It’s not gonna stop COVID-19. It’s not gonna put out the fires, but it’s fun. And right now, we need fun. My god do we need fun. This has been a miserable year. It’s been a year of division, injustice, disease, Zoom school, disaster and death.”

As he spoke, the camera showed an audience full of TV’s biggest stars. But those who took a closer look realized they were old clips from previous Emmys. The screen showed Kerry Washington, Ricky Gervais, Jon Stewart and then Jimmy Kimmel himself sitting among them at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

“Hey, was that me?” asked Kimmel from stage. “But wait, if I’m down there, how am I up here? That would mean that no one is in the audience. That would mean that I’m up here all alone, just like prom night.”

Viewers were suddenly presented with reality: empty chairs at the venue.

“Of course, I’m here all alone,” continued Kimmel. “Of course, we don’t have an audience. This isn’t a MAGA rally, it’s the Emmys.”

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