For once, television's biggest night was full of surprises. Not only did the TV Academy honor many first-timers (most notably Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany and Mr. Robot's Rami Malek) and celebrate its diversity, Jimmy Kimmel did a pretty decent job as the Emmys host and sent us to bed at a reasonable hour. Here were some of the highlights.
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Jeffrey Tambor screws with red-carpet hosts
Hand signals from behind camera distracted Tambor during an interview on the red carpet, so the Transparent actor (and eventual winner for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) aped them for viewers at home to see and double-handedly saved an otherwise meh pre-show carpet.
In his opening bit, Kimmel showcased a true LA moment: being stuck in traffic. James Corden, Emilia Clarke, and the cast of Modern Family all appeared, but a brief cameo by former Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was the best part. Dubya's younger bro disclosed that he had joined ride-sharing services while in between jobs, alluded to his viral "please clap" moment, and tried to say his name as passionately as he could. Also, Jeb was wearing a cute little chauffeur's hat.
Kimmel pokes fun at the inevitable winners
Game of Thrones and The People v. O.J. Simpson had more than 20 Emmy nominations each, which explains Kimmel's prescient joke about how the night would progress. "The rest of you, if your show doesn't have a dragon or a white Bronco, go home now." Kimmel also said, "Television has the ability to make us laugh and cry and, during certain key parts of Game of Thrones, masturbate," and, after the camera cut to Kit Harington, added: "Whoa, that's what I'm talking about. Hi, Jon Snow, you're my freebie."
Cuba Gooding Jr.'s O.J. joke reaction > O.J. joke
It's like 1995 all over again. Jimmy Kimmel's opening bit was packed with gags about the Juice, including a re-creation of the iconic highway chase that had Malcolm-Jamal Warner reprising his role as A.C. But the best line came during the monologue: "Cuba Gooding Jr. was so good in The People v. O.J. Simpson, I now believe Cuba may have done it." Gooding Jr.'s face stole the moment.
Kimmel blames the creator of The Apprentice for the rise of Donald Trump
After the internet roasted Jimmy Fallon for going easy on Donald Trump, there might've been some pressure for Kimmel to take some more political jabs at the Republican presidential candidate. Instead, Kimmel needled reality super-producer Mark Burnett for having given Trump a platform with The Apprentice. "Thanks to Mark Burnett, we don't have to watch reality shows anymore, because we're living in one," joked Kimmel. "Thank you for coming all the way from England to tear us apart with your intricate plot. It worked, you sneaky little crumpet muncher."
Aziz Ansari couldn't get a speech in
After winning Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for his work on Netflix's Master of None, former Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang gave an inspiring, thoughtful speech about Asian-Americans on TV. Unfortunately, there was no time left for co-creator Aziz Ansari to say anything. The motormouth comedian tried to take the mic back, but he was already getting played off too hard by the trigger-happy Emmy band. He walked away and came back a couple times, but never got a chance to talk. Luckily, Ansari got to take the stage later in the show and give a shout-out to his parents, who were sitting in the audience. Emmy crisis averted!
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome four-time Emmy-winner Dr. Bill Cosby!"
The controversial comedian did not appear at the 2016 Emmys, but the prank made Kimmel -- and a decent portion of the audience -- laugh.
"Topple the patriarchy"
Wearing a very cool pair of sneakers, Transparent creator Jill Soloway took the stage with gusto to accept her second straight award in the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series category. After talking about her love for directing and thanking the Amazon original's cast and crew, she ended her speech with an enthusiastic plea to "topple the patriarchy!" -- which led Kimmel, the former host of Comedy Central's The Man Show, to quip, "I'm trying to figure out if 'topple the patriarchy' is a good thing for me or not."
Kimmel outs Hollywood's pickiest actors using sandwiches
It wouldn't be a Kimmel event without an appearance from one of his family members, so Mama Kimmel provided PB&J sandwiches for all the hungry Emmy attendees. "Raise your hand if you have a gluten allergy," the host said. "I just want America to see which of their favorite celebrities are the most annoying."
Leslie Jones tells the Emmy accountants to protect her Twitter
Chris Rock, take note: this is how you joke about snooze-inducing accountants who safeguard awards show secrets. Leslie Jones offered up a far better suggestion for how the CPAs could be using their skills: protecting her Twitter account, which recently got hacked. "Y'all over here using your skills to protect Best Voice-Over in a French Sitcom," said Jones. "Meanwhile, I'm butt-naked on CNN. I just wanted to feel beautiful, y'all. Can a sister feel beautiful?"
Courtney B. Vance says Angela Bassett "rocks his chain"
In a night of strong speeches, Courtney B. Vance's acceptance speech for his work on The People v. O.J. Simpson stands above them all. Lots of people thank their wives, husbands, and partners from the stage, but Vance put on a master class in thanking your spouse, taking a Jay Z reference from his American Crime Story co-star Sterling K. Brown's speech to name Bassett as "the woman that rocks my chain." If that's not romantic, what is?
"Everyone in L.A. knows, if you want to win, sit next to Marcia Clark," said Kimmel in his opening monologue, in reference to nominee Sarah Paulson, who, in a classy move, brought the litigator she played in The People v. O.J. Simpson as her plus-one. While Paulson did win for her dead-ringer Clark portrayal, Kimmel's joke didn't apply to the actor assigned to the seat on the other side of Marcia Clark: Narcos' Pedro Pascal (a.k.a. Game of Thrones' Oberyn Martell). But at least he enjoyed his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Kit Harington makes comedy with Andy Samberg
Fact: the Game of Thrones star and SNL alum starred together in 7 Days in Hell, a made-for-HBO tennis mockumentary you need to see. This bit, by design, had the best one-liners of the night. Jon Snow may be glum, but Harington packs a true British wit.
These two have a long history of giving each other shit, so it wasn't a surprise to see Jason Bourne show up on stage, chewing an apple and mocking Kimmel for losing to John Oliver. The best line? The Good Will Hunting gag at the end when Damon called to Kimmel across the stage, "Oh, hey, Jimmy! Tell your mom I like them apples."
Annual no-show Maggie Smith wins again
One of Kimmel's sillier opening bits involved Downton Abbey actress Maggie Smith, who has never shown up to the awards despite racking up an impressive nine Emmy nominations (and four wins) over her career. Kimmel said she would not get her trophy this year unless she showed up, and, in a perfect twist, Smith won again later in the show. "No, no no no," said Kimmel, interrupting the award's presenters. "We're not mailing this to her. Maggie, if you want this, it's in the lost and found." Cold.
Game of Thrones has how many Emmys?!?!
Game of Thrones made Emmy history last night. With its climatic Best Drama win at the end of the evening, the fantasy series pushed its total number of awards across its lifetime to 38, breaking the record of most wins by a prime time television series. NBC's Frasier, which had 37 wins over its 11 seasons, was the previous record holder -- sorry, Kelsey Grammer. And just think: GoT has two more seasons to go. By the end, they'll have more gold than you can find in the Iron Bank of Braavos.
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