Following the highly successful inaugural season of his own show, The Colbert Report, former Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert found his new show nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards in 2006. The Colbert Report was up for four awards in the Variety, Music, or Comedy Program category — Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Individual Performance, Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Series. Of these, Colbert’s name was attached to the latter three, but only one of them was solely his to win or lose.
Colbert lost the Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program to Barry Manilow. Yes, that Barry Manilow. The guy whose songs regularly pop up on your parents’ favorite Spotify playlists. The category was stacked against Colbert from the start; the other nominees included David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and Hugh Jackman (who has claws for hands). But Manilow? Really? Surely his nomination was simply the Television Academy’s way of giving the singer a pat on the back.
Yet when Tracy Morgan and Tina Fey presented the award during the Emmys telecast, the winner’s name rhymed with “Marry Banilow.” Mr. “Copacabana” himself stuttered when he took the stage, saying he couldn’t “be more surprised” at his win. Little did the live audience and the viewers at home know that Colbert, along with some assistance from Daily Show host Jon Stewart, had prepared for this very moment.