Weeks after leaving his job, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was onstage at the Emmy Awards on Sunday joking about one of his first — and more dubious — claims from the press room.
Host Stephen Colbert, playing the straight man in his opening monologue, said it was difficult to tell how many people would be watching the show. At that point, Spicer wheeled a podium onto the Los Angeles stage.
"This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys period, both in person and around the world," Spicer said. The reference was to his Inauguration Day claims, contradicted by photos, about how big the audience was for President Donald Trump's oath of office.
"Wow," Colbert replied. "That really soothes my fragile ego."
After his Emmy debut, Spicer admitted that he was "absolutely" nervous for his stunt.
"It's a lot bigger than a briefing room," Spicer told NBC4 Los Angeles.
The former Trump aide continued: "Obviously we're not necessarily politically aligned, but I have a lot of respect for the work the people do both in film and TV."
Spicer added that he had not heard from his former boss about his appearance but hoped the president "found it humorous."
Even without Spicer's surprise appearance, politics couldn't help but make its way onto the Emmy Awards stage, especially since Colbert noted that Trump was the biggest TV star of the year.
Spicer's joke rubbed several people the wrong way on social media, and Colbert didn't let him off the hook, either. Pointing out Robert DeNiro in the audience, he noted that the actor had been nominated for his role in the HBO movie "Wizard of Lies" (about Bernard Madoff). Colbert joked that he thought the movie was "The Sean Spicer Story."
On Twitter, actor Zach Braff contended the Spicer appearance was too soon: "I'm not ready to laugh 'with' Sean Spicer," he tweeted. One of former President Barack Obama's top aides, Dan Pfeiffer wrote, "congrats to @seanspicer for his new job as the punchline to an unfunny joke."
But he got some sympathy backstage from an unexpected source in Alec Baldwin, who won an Emmy for his memorable portrayal of Trump on "Saturday Night Live."
"I think the average person is very grateful for him to have a sense of humor and participate," Baldwin said. "And Spicer obviously was compelled to do certain things that we might not have respected, we might not have admired, we might have been super critical of in order to do his job, but I've done some jobs that are things you shouldn't admire or respect me for, either."