Jimmy Kimmel Kicks Off 2020 Emmy Awards With Virtual Audience: "What Could Possibly Go Right?"

For the broadcast, the late-night host was onstage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

As the nation continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic, Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the 72nd Emmy Awards Sunday night with things looking rather different.

The late-night host, who famously hosted the Oscars the year they announced the wrong best picture winner, emceed the event audience-free from Staples Center in Los Angeles. The telecast deployed more than 100 cameras to broadcast live with nominees stationed across the globe.

"Welcome to the 'pandemmys.' Thank you for risking everything to be here," Kimmel said once he took the stage, as video footage from previous Emmys audiences was digitized to act as his audience.

Kimmel was quick to poke fun at the fact that the awards show was taking place now. "The big question I guess we should answer is, why would you have an award show in the middle of a pandemic? No, seriously I'm asking. Why are we having an awards show?"

The host addressed that the show is taking place amid a "miserable year" that's been filled with "division, injustice, disease, Zoom school and death."

"The world may be terrible but TV has never been better," Kimmel said. "Throughout the good times and the breaking bads for every day of your 600-pound life, television is there for you."

The digitized crowd was later removed to showcase the empty Staples Center arena Kimmel was actually speaking to. "I am up here all alone. Just like prom night," he joked, emphasizing for those who would think otherwise, "of course I'm here all alone. This isn't a MAGA rally. This is the Emmys."

"We filled the seats with cardboard cuts outs," Kimmel added, showing cutouts of stars such as Meryl Streep and Regina King in front of him. However, Jason Bateman made a physical appearance, "I haven't left the house for six months. I don't want to go back. I want to eat shrimp with the cast of The Crown," he told Kimmel after the late-night host told him he needed to leave.

"You could stay as long as you promise to laugh at my jokes," Kimmel told the Ozark actor, which ultimately convinced Bateman to leave.

Kimmel later explained how the award show would carry on despite nominees being unable to physically be there. "We have live feeds to and from more than 100 locations around the world. You know how hard it is to get your parents to FaceTime? Multiply that by a lot," he said.

Ahead of the show, Kimmel, who also serves as executive producer of this year's show, told The Hollywood Reporter that for the big event they'd be "heavily relying on Wi-Fi for this Emmys — more than any show ever has before." After already having agreed to host well before the pandemic struck, Kimmel quipped that he enjoys putting himself "in difficult situations."

"So if the worst happens and it all breaks down, there will definitely be a part of me that is amused by it. I sometimes step outside my body and laugh at myself. So whatever happens, it’ll be OK," he said.

After the nominees for the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards were announced in July, a new class of stars such as Euphoria's Zendaya, Normal People's Paul Mescal and more was introduced to the awards race as first-time nominees. Meanwhile, previous Oscar winners such as Mahershala Ali, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, and more are nominated for their respected roles on the small screen.

During the ceremony, Pop TV's Schitt's Creek swept the comedy series categories, with 7 wins, including best series. Meanwhile, HBO's Succession picked up four wins, including best drama series and HBO's Watchmen also picked up four honors, including best limited series.

The 72nd Emmy Awards aired live on ABC with Kimmel hosting.