Emmys Openings and Monologues From the Last 10 Years, Ranked

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The best time of the year continues this weekend with the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards.

But first, the let’s take a little trip down Emmys memory lane…

No edition of the Emmys would be complete without some sort of opening sketch, musical number or monologue — a gentle reminder of how easy it is to be bad at such a task. Hosting is not a walk in the park. It takes talent, which is why Neil Patrick Harris, Conan O’Brien and Ellen DeGeneres have each done it more than once. It’s more than just delivering jokes. Bad jokes are not fun, which is why you can’t quite recall what last year’s host, Seth Meyers, did in his opening.

If you’re like us and you tend to watch the Emmys from beginning-to-end (whether or not it’s part of your job), you’d agree that the opening monologue or sketch basically sets the tone for the rest of the 45-hour marathon. Let’s hope this year’s host, Andy Samberg, falls somewhere between the pipes of NPH and the class of Ellen. Or, maybe he’ll do his own thing and wow us all.

Here are the last 10 Emmys openings ranked from worst to best:

10. Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst, Ryan Seacrest (2008)

We searched the bowels of the internet for what felt like 10 days (it was more like a really long and frustrating hour) and could not, fortunately, find any video clips of these reality TV show figures actually hosting the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. Some say it was worse than James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s (un)forgettable Oscars fiasco. Jeff Probst and Tom Bergeron have since looked back with embarrassed eyeballs. Judging by this clip of the hosts being called up on stage to find out who won the Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality Show, reality show style, the 2008 Emmys hosts were definitely not something to write home about.


9. Seth Meyers (2014)

Seth Meyers’ opening monologue was half forgettable, half this-is-a-reminder-of-who-is-hosting-Late-Night. The fact that the Emmys aired on a Monday last year did not bode well for Meyers. Let him get back to writing monologues and bits for people like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who should host all the award shows all the time.

8. Jimmy Kimmel and a bunch of powerful women from TV (2012)

Behind every great host is at least half a dozen actresses in robes. The opening for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast included everything from botox jokes to punches to a very naked Lena Dunham eating cake (people were scared of nudity that year). We’d like to think Jimmy Kimmel hosting again is a scarier notion.


7. Brian & Stewie from Family Guy (2007)

If the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences knew what they were doing, they would’ve just let Brian and Stewie from Family Guy host the entire program in 2007. Instead, they let Ryan Seacrest do the rest of the work after the opening bit. It was pretty much downhill from there.


6. Jane Lynch (2011)

Believe it or not, Jane Lynch is the most recent woman to host the Emmys and only the third in the last decade. If you don’t have all the time in the world today, watch only the Mad Men part of the opening. Or the last segment, where Lynch sings live. Please let Jane Lynch do more things like this. (And watch Hollywood Game Night. It’s pretty good).


5. Jimmy Fallon and a bunch of famous people including the Glee kids (2010)

Jimmy Fallon had a little fun with the show of the season in 2010, jumping on the Glee bandwagon and asking some of the cast members to help him open the show. He was already doing something similar on Late Night and of course, we were already familiar with his Saturday Night Live antics. All in all, a good time. Why Jon Hamm didn’t win anything for his role in this opening is just beyond us. But then again, it’s the Emmys…


4. Neil Patrick Harris (2013)

The opening is more like Booth Jonathan’s “piece” on Girls Season 2. But other than that, the monologue is classic NPH. (Just ignore the Google Glass joke and the bit when some of the hosts of yesterday bombard him). Tina and Amy are possibly half the reason why this opening is where it is on our list.


3. Ellen DeGeneres (2005)

For her fourth Emmys hosting gig, Ellen DeGeneres told everyone watching that it was OK to laugh for the first time in weeks. Hurricane Katrina had devastated her hometown of New Orleans just the month before. There was no musical number from the host. No singing. Just good ‘ol stand-up comedy. This is how you open a show, ladies and gents.


2. Neil Patrick Harris (2009)

Should Tina Fey and Amy Poehler ever be unavailable (because they are busy saving the world), Neil Patrick Harris is your guy. NPH has hosted the Tony Awards four times, the Emmys twice and the Oscars earlier this year. He’s won Emmys for hosting the Tonys. We saw NPH on the small screen a lot in 2009. This was a treat. (Get tissues ready for the 2-minute mark when the camera cuts to Jon Hamm and his now-ex Jennifer Westfeldt. RIP love).


1. Conan O’Brien’s Second Time (2006)

Remember when Lost was a TV show we all loved? Remember when Conan was on something called NBC? What about Jack Bauer? House? For his second date with the Emmys as host (he hosted in 2002), his royal gingerness blessed the world with his funny and flirted with Pam from The Office as a real deal news ticker played on the bottom. Network giants, if you’re reading this, let Conan host a thing or two soon, OK?

The 67th Primetime Emmys will air this Sunday (Sept. 20) at 8 p.m. on FOX. Happy Emmys, folks.