After a lackluster opening number that focused on interpretive dance, Kenan Thompson actually told jokes at the 2022 Emmys. Thompson took aim at Netflix’s flagging fortunes and Yellowjackets‘s relegation to Showtime, but he saved his biggest burn for Leonardo DiCaprio and his well-known penchant for only dating women under the age of 25. For that last joke, Thompson roped in Euphoria star and Best Actress nominee Zendaya.
“Zendaya just turned 26 last week,” Thompson said. “26 is a weird age in Hollywood. I mean, you’re young enough to play a high school student, but you’re too old to date Leonardo DiCaprio.” The crowd laughed at the joke as Zendaya put her head in her hands.
Thompson went on to crack a joke about Succession‘s extremely white cast — “Succession is the only show that’s got three brothers and no brothers.” — before making a jab at how long it would take Only Murders in the Building stars Steve Martin and Martin Short to get to the stage. (It’s an old age joke. Co-star Selena Gomez pouted and comforted Short, who was seated next to her.)
Other targets of Thompson’s impish humor included the streaming and premium networks whose presence has overcome the Emmys in recent years.
“A lot of the shows nominated for Best Drama were hard to watch. Stranger Things was hard to watch because it was so scary. Squid Game was hard to watch because it was so violent. And Yellowjackets was so hard to watch because it was on Showtime.” That last joke even got jokes from the Yellowjackets table.
But Showtime had it easy compared to Netflix, whose plummeting stock shares are clearly the talk of the industry right now.
“[Squid Game] is a contest you enter when you’re in massive debt and desperate for money. Joining the cast next season? Netflix.” Thompson said to muted laughter, which he ate up.
Later, after praising Abbott Elementary for their choice to donate their campaign funds to schools in need, Thompson quipped, “That’s what it’s all about. It’s about helping those in need. That’s why all my salary from tonight’s show is going straight to Netflix.”