Julie Bowen and Sarah Hyland couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing.
Julie Bowen and Sarah Hyland couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. Supplied

Stars reel at Stephen Colbert’s shocking Emmys opener

EMMYS host Stephen Colbert pulled no punches during a blistering comic monologue to open the awards' 69th ceremony.

But it was a surprise cameo from former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that left Hollywood's A-listers reeling.

During a frequently politically-charged monologue, Colbert wondered aloud that there was no real way to know exactly how many people were tuning in - when Spicer suddenly appeared on stage, behind his familiar White House lectern.

And just to clarify: No, it wasn't Melissa McCarthy doing her spot-on Spicer impersonation from SNL. She was in the audience, looking just as shocked as anyone else.

Melissa McCarthy.
Melissa McCarthy. Supplied

Spicer trotted out a couple of now-familiar lines about the Emmys audience being the "biggest ever", channelling his claims about President Trump's inauguration. As the stars reeled at his appearance on stage, Colbert played him off.

Yep, that’s the real Sean Spicer.
Yep, that’s the real Sean Spicer. Supplied

"Melissa McCarthy everybody, give it up," he joked.

Elsewhere in his opening monologue, Colbert focused on the President and his longtime obsession with TV ratings - and the fact that he never won an Emmy for his work on The Apprentice, despite frequent nominations.

Julie Bowen and Sarah Hyland couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing.
Julie Bowen and Sarah Hyland couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. Supplied

"The biggest TV star of the last year is Donald Trump … and Alec Baldwin. You guys are neck and neck. And Alec, you're up against a lot of neck," he said.

Colbert pointed out that if Trump had won an Emmy, he probably wouldn't have bothered to run for President - "so in a way, this is all your fault."

Colbert even dug up a forgotten moment from last year's Presidential debates when Trump mentioned he "should've won" an Emmy for The Apprentice.

"But he didn't. Unlike the Presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote," he quipped.

So pernicious was the President's anti-Emmys grudge, in 2014 he tweeted that then-Emmys host Seth Meyers had "almost no talent" and "marbles in his mouth."

After dredging up the old tweet, Colbert cut to Meyers in the audience to give him a right of reply. About to speak, a torrent of marbles fell from Meyers' mouth.

Conservative Republican politician Ted Cruz also copped a serve, a week after making headlines after his official Twitter account 'liked' a porn video.

"Everybody loves streaming video - just asked Ted Cruz. But knock first, you don't want to just walk in," the host warned.

It wasn't all politics - Colbert also took aim at the stars in the room, "people who for the last 48 hours have consumed nothing but distilled water and Crest white strips."

Stephen Colbert opens the 2017 Emmy Awards.
Stephen Colbert opens the 2017 Emmy Awards. Contributed

He noted that this year's field of nominees was the most racially diverse ever, and after the applause had died down, mused: "I did not know you could applaud while patting yourself on the back, well done."

Colbert congratulated the night's pool of African-American nominees, including (very white) talk show host Bill Maher, who recently courted controversy for his use of the n-word.

"I assume he's black because he's so comfortable using the N-word," said Colbert.

Elsewhere, 13-year-old St ranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown was singled out for "proving once and for all that there are roles in Holywood for women over 12," while HBO was the butt of one close-to-the-bone joke, in the wake of their recent hacking scandal:

"HBO will win a lot of Emmys tonight … which they'll have to melt down for gold to pay for next year's hacker ransom," he said.

Colbert also reminded those winning an award tonight to "thank everyone who got you up here - namely Game of Thrones for not being nominated this year."