Creative Arts Emmys: Host Nicole Byer, Winners Address Pandemic, Racial Equality

Nicole Byer - Getty - H 2020
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The 'Nailed It!' host performed a bit themed to the socially-distant ceremony on Monday night.

Nicole Byer jokingly awarded "COVID-19 Compliance Awards" during the first night of 2020's virtual Creative Arts Emmys on Monday.

The Creative Arts Emmys (and Nailed It!) host performed a bit themed to the socially-distant ceremony (where acceptance speeches were pre-taped) when she nominated The Masked Singer, among other titles, for the fake prize: "because, honestly, you should know it — we should all be wearing masks," she explained. Fellow nominees included At Home With Amy Sedaris ("You guys, stay home") and Big Little Lies because "the use of Plexiglass as PPE is good."

Byer ended up awarding Nailed It! as the winner, despite not being named previously as a nominee. "It's my show," she explained.

Other shows nominated for a subsequent joke award — "Questionable COVID-19 Compliance" — included Carpool Karaoke: The Series - Stranger Things (singing in a car is a "super-spreader event," she noted); Killing Eve ("anytime you're smelling each other you're probably not six feet apart") and Queer Eye.

The Creative Arts Emmys also poked fun at its first pandemic-era ceremony during the traditional plaudits to the accounting firm responsible for counting ballots. Employees of Ernst & Young were pictured in yellow Hazmat suits, with one carrying a suitcase presumably filled with the names of winners.

During her monologue, Byer noted the show's change of scene as she stood in front of the Television Academy's sign in North Hollywood. "Ordinarily, we'd be having this show in a packed theater somewhere in Los Angeles, but as we know, there's nothing ordinary about 2020. It's wild! And I'll admit, it's a little odd to be hosting a show like this with no audience but it comforts me to know that you're all applauding wildly for me at home," she joked.

On the ceremony's second night on Tuesday, Byer argued that television has become "what some might call an essential service" due to the uptick in viewership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tuesday's show also honored late-night television, which Byer said has "led the way for this new normal," with a short video compilation of late-night hosts filming from their respective homes.

Elsewhere, other presenters and winners also addressed the pandemic, along with other topical issues including equality and politics.

John Oliver, in his acceptance speech for outstanding writing for a variety show for Last Week Tonight, thanked the Emmys "for not holding the Emmys in person this year because of, you know, The Thing."

During Thursday evening's ceremony, Byer noted that due to many isolating at home, television has become its own "essential service." A montage followed showing late-night hosts performing their sets from home as well as philanthropic series like Saturday Night Seder and iHeartRadio Living Room Concert for America. "Throughout the pandemic, the television industry has shown that no matter the obstacles the show must go on. We will always find a way to produce outstanding programming and the Emmys will always be here to honor it," Byers added at the end of the montage.

Later in the evening, The Voice director Alan Carter shared a behind-the-scenes look at the NBC competition series as it follows safety guidelines, from temperature checks before entering any building to his overseeing over 20 Skype calls.

Meanwhile, the academy also mentioned that Ernst & Young is responsible for tallying the votes and keep the winners secret. In reference to the pandemic, three "executives" were shown holding briefcases, with two in hazmat suits and a third wearing an inflatable bubble ball. All three were standing six feet apart.

As Van Jones, Elijah Allan-Blitz and Jana Carter accepted a win for The Messy Truth VR Experience for best original interactive program, Jones said the win is dedicated to "all the people marching for justice all around the world."

The final awards of Thursday night both went to Quibi's police drama #Freerayshawn, with Laurence Fishburn and Jasmine Cephas Jones each accepting a win for their roles in the short-form series.  "As I sit here on my rooftop in the middle of Brooklyn in the middle of a pandemic in the social climate that we’re in, I am honored and grateful to be a part of an important story that is #Freesayshawn," Jones shared in her acceptance speech. "Let's vote in November and let’s continue to tell these important stories."

During the final night of the Creative Emmys on Saturday, RuPaul joked about making a political statement "every time I bat my false eyelashes" as he accepted a win for outstanding host for a reality or competition program.

"Tonight, the only political statement I want to make is this: love. Love for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, love for Black queens and brown queens and love for the United States of America where a little gay boy with nothing more than a pussycat wig and a dream can build an international platform that celebrates sweet sensitive souls everywhere."

Paul also included a call to vote on Nov. 3 with his a twist on his signature line: "The time has come for you to vote for your life!," and dedicated his Emmy to Drag Race alum Chi Chi DeVayne, who died on Aug. 20.

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 5:54 p.m. Updated to include comments during Tuesday's ceremony.

Wednesday, Sep. 17, 5:20 p.m. Updated to include comments during Wednesday's ceremony.

Saturday, Sep. 19, 5:20 p.m. Updated to include comments during Saturday's ceremony.