Host Stephen Colbert said it was difficult to tell how many people would be watching the show.
“What really matters to Donald Trump is ratings. You gotta have the big numbers,” Colbert said. “Unfortunately at this point, we have no way of knowing how big our audience is. I mean is there anyone who can say how big our audience is? Sean, do you know?”
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 U.S. President Trump’s oath of office.
“Wow,” Colbert replied. “That really soothes my fragile ego.”
Colbert didn’t let Spicer off the hook. 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.
Spicer’s joke rubbed several people the wrong way on social media.
Many Twitter users criticized the moment for attempting to “normalize” a person who spread lies during his time as press secretary.
Sean Spicer stood in the White House and lied to the American ppl. Bringing him on the Emmys is just as bad as Fallon ruffling Trump's hair
— Courtney Miller (@coamiller) September 18, 2017
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) September 18, 2017
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 18, 2017
Sean Spicer just walked onstage at the #Emmys2017 and I turned it off. I will not laugh at, applaud, or normalize these maniacs.
— RichardAmelius (@RichardAmelius) September 18, 2017
Since when is okay to normalized and give airtime like a guy like Sean spicer not funny, wake up this shouldn't happen pic.twitter.com/SKL4wPlrnP
— Jimmie Copeland (@jimmiec4) September 18, 2017
I'm not ready to laugh "with" Sean Spicer. I think he is an evil, opportunistic liar that hurt our country.
— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) September 18, 2017
me watching the Sean Spicer bit at the Emmys pic.twitter.com/hUYkIVtJHL
— JuanPa (@jpbrammer) September 18, 2017
So, we are rewarding @seanspicer for lying through his teeth day after day in the name of the trump? The Republican Party? It's not cute.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) September 18, 2017
Hollywood just tousled Sean Spicer's hair.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) September 18, 2017
Others were comparing Spicer’s ability to find another job to Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality against blacks.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) September 18, 2017
Colin Kaepernick: too controversial, can't get a job
Sean Spicer: jokes around at the Emmys, gets a Harvard fellowship #America
— nicole (@nicolairamirez) September 18, 2017
Sean Spicer is on the Emmys and Colin Kaepernick can't get a job. Makes sense.
— J. Tallman (@tallbaby21) September 18, 2017
Wait but how did Sean Spicer get a job before Colin Kaepernick?
— Logan Greig (@lcgreig03) September 18, 2017
— funndamentalz (@funndamentalz) September 18, 2017
Harvard should have invited Colin Kaepernick to be a fellow instead of Sean Spicer. One of them told the truth & one of them lied…a lot.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) September 15, 2017
Others were entertained by the reaction of celebrities in the crowd.
— Emily Longeretta (@emilylongeretta) September 18, 2017
— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) September 18, 2017
— Andrew Weil (@AndrewSWeil) September 18, 2017
Many other Twitter users didn’t find Spicer’s cameo “funny” at all.
Seeing Sean Spicer during the Emmys mock the actual lie he told the American people about inauguration crowd is I don't know, not funny.
— Mary Georgantopoulos (@marygeorgant) September 18, 2017
SEAN SPICER DOES NOT GET TO BE FUNNY
— Ira Madison III (@ira) September 18, 2017
DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE 2018 SEAN SPICER REDEMPTION TOUR
— Joanna Rothkopf (@joannarothkopf) September 18, 2017
Melissa McCarthy playing Sean Spicer is hilarious. Sean Spicer playing himself is…well…not funny.
— Janice Petranech (@jpaula58) September 18, 2017
The only acceptable reason to invite Sean Spicer on stage is to have a trap door open up under him
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) September 18, 2017
Sean Spicer: *shows up at Emmys*
Melissa McCarthy: pic.twitter.com/1EWvP90ZKN
— Brandi Brands (@brandigolightly) September 18, 2017
Following the show Sunday night, Spicer joined many other Emmy guests making their way to the official Governors Ball after party. He told The Hollywood Reporter “it’s an honour” to attend and participate in the Emmys. “I have a lot of respect for folks who do what they do in film and on television, so it’s a real honour to be invited,” Spicer said.
When Spicer was asked whether he considered the negative reactions his appearance might receive, he said “not so much.”
“I was more worried about the logistical reactions,” he said. “I’ve never wheeled a podium before. The one I’m used to is pretty stationary.”
When asked if he was worried about Trump taking offence to the skit, Spicer said “I certainly hope not.”
Spicer told the New York Times on Monday that the skit “was an attempt to poke a little fun at myself and add a little bit of levity to the event.”
He said that he didn’t give Trump or any senior White House staff a heads-up about his appearance on the awards show, which had been in the works for several days.
Spicer revealed that Colbert suggested the idea himself and passed it onto him through his producer at CBS.
—With files from the Associated Press