Jimmy Kimmel Opens the Emmys: 'Why Are We Having An Awards Show In the Middle of the Pandemic?'

Jimmy Kimmel had no shortage of hilarious material for his 2020 Emmy Awards opening monologue.

Kimmel wasted no time in addressing the elephant in the room: that this year's award ceremony is like no other due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"It’s great to finally see people again," Kimmel said, as at-home viewers saw old footage of stars in the audience.

Of course, Kimmel was almost completely alone at the Staples Center, joking, "you can’t have a virus without a host."

Kimmel said that the "big" question of the night was why to continue on with the award show in the midst of a global pandemic, but noted that the world needs a little "fun" right now.

"It might seem frivolous and unnecessary to do this during a global pandemic," Kimmel said, teasing that it was equally unnecessary in other years, before going on to point out how "television is there for you" when stuck at home, keeping people connected and entertained.

"The world may be terrible, but TV has never been better," he said.

Jason Bateman made a surprise appearance in the empty room — which had been decorated with cardboard cutouts of several nominees — but quickly left when Kimmel said he could only stay if he promised to laugh at all his jokes.

The show was initially planned to take place at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles but was announced in July it will be moved to a virtual format. To abide by social distancing guidelines, Kimmel is hosting remotely from a stage inside the Staples Center, without an audience or red carpet.

Ahead of the ceremony, Kimmel — who has emceed the ceremony twice before — opened up to PEOPLE about the challenges of hosting a virtual awards ceremony.

"As a comedian, getting no laughs — which is certainly something I’ve become accustomed to, even in front of audiences — is tough," he told PEOPLE. "That’s the measure of whether something was funny. So the challenge is how to make it feel like not all the jokes are bombing."

The 72nd Emmy Awards are airing live Sunday from 8-11 p.m. ET on ABC.

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