Were you upset by that photo of CBS’s “Late Late Show” host James Corden planting a kiss on President Trump’s former press secretary, Sean Spicer, at the Emmy Awards? Corden is well-aware of the criticism and addressed the controversy on his show Monday night — however, he just responded with jokes.
The photo sparked backlash the day after the ceremony, as lots of viewers were already angered that Spicer was invited to the Emmys for a surprise cameo, saying it “normalized” the official who uttered many falsehoods during his tenure at the White House. Headlines were everywhere: “James Corden slammed for taking a photo with Sean Spicer at the Emmy Awards”; “People are seriously pissed at James Corden for kissing Sean Spicer at the Emmys”; “James Corden gets heat over Sean Spicer Emmys picture.”
During his monologue Monday, Corden kicked things off by saying, “The big winners last night were Donald Glover, Hulu and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Spicer won best actor in a comedy for his role in Donald Trump’s administration.”
“I’m kidding, of course,” he said. “But Sean Spicer actually did make a cameo at last night’s ceremony. According to some reports, at the after-party, Spicer was the post popular guy in the room. And I just want to say, I think people are forgetting that this man lied to the American people, and should not be embraced. These Hollywood phonies kissing up to Sean Spicer are disgusting. I mean, who did this? Who are we talking about here?!”
The Corden-Spicer picture flashed across the screen. Corden grimaced and looked away, as the audience cracked up and started applauding.
“Yeah,” Corden sighed. “I know you think that is a picture of me kissing Sean Spicer. But in the spirit of Sean Spicer — no, it isn’t!”
He continued his routine: “Anyone ever have that feeling when you get a little drunk and then wake up the next morning and think ‘Oh God, who did I kiss last night?’ It’s a bit like that.”
“To be fair, everyone was kissing ass last night at the Emmys,” he added. “I just happened to kiss the biggest one there.” (Corden’s crowd really liked that one.)
Then it seemed Corden might take a turn for the serious: “Understandably, some people have been disappointed by this photo. In truth, I’m disappointed by it as well. I am, have been reading a lot of harsh comments on Twitter today, and I hear you loud and clear, truly, I do,” he said. And he veered back to jokes: “So much so I’m really starting to regret that Carpool Karaoke that we’ve taped with Steve Bannon. Feels like a mistake today.”
After the laughter died down, he said, “I can promise you this, that kiss was a one-time thing … I’m not one of these people who has a couple of drinks and goes around kissing people that I don’t know.” He paused. “Except for that one time with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, right?”
Corden showed a picture of him kissing Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And another picture of him kissing Allison Janney. Then one of him kissing Harry Styles, and Niall Horan, and Bryan Cranston, and Daniel Radcliffe, and Ken Jeong.
“Basically, what I’m saying is, I need to learn how to shake hands!” Corden concluded, in an apparent effort to remind everyone that he kisses celebrities all the time.
While Corden is far from the most political person in late-night, in the aftermath of Spicer photo, some people drew comparisons to Jimmy Fallon’s incident last year, when the “Tonight Show” host playfully ruffled Trump’s hair during an interview. Afterward, Fallon admitted that moment was a “setback” to his reputation.