The former 'black-ish' star's opening monologue paid tribute to shows he watched growing up
The set onstage at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles was styled as "Mr. Anderson's Neighborhood," a nod to the decade-spanning childhood show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. It was all part of Anderson's aim for nostalgia.
"We're going to commemorate the greatest shows of today while paying tribute to some of the iconic series that mean so much to us. Simply put, television has shaped the world and more importantly, it shaped me," the host said.
Alongside the choir, Anderson reminisced about Hollywood and history, singing: "Ain't we lucky we've got 'em, good times." At one point, Anderson sang his way into a rendition of the Phil Collins classic, "In the Air Tonight," with backing drums from Barker.
The musical arrangement was met with applause from the star-studded crowd — but it may not last the entire night. Anderson also joked there would be no other music on the 2024 broadcast.
Instead of the usual awards show play-off songs, Anderson introduced his mother — Doris "Mama Doris" Bowman — the woman who would be responsible for wrapping up the celebrities time on stage.
"Tonight, my mama — she is going to be the Emmy's play-off mama. Now, when you see my mama comin' just thank Jesus and your family and wrap it up," he joked. "I don't want nobody to get disrespectful with my mama because my mama is from the West side of Chicago and she can throw them hands."
Bowman stood in the crowd to tell her son, "Shut up. That's enough," as his monologue time ran out.
In case fans were wondering, Bowman really did stand up in the audience with an "out of time" sign when The White Lotus star Jennifer Coolidge went a few seconds over her best supporting actress in a limited or anthology series acceptance speech.
As is tradition at awards shows of this magnitude, when a winner goes long on their acceptance speech, music plays to nudge them off the stage. But at this year's Emmys, Bowman was tapped to appear instead, tasked with nudging over-talkers to the wings.
"We're going to see what kind of fun we can have without stepping on anyone's toes, because we know people have points to make, thank-yous to make and mission statements to make during an acceptance speech," Anderson, 53, recently told PEOPLE.
He added, "We have to be courteous to all the other nominees and actors who may be winning that night and courteous to the audience members who are watching at home."
While Anderson wasn't playing favorites, he wished luck to Black nominees including Quinta Brunson, Dominique Fishback, Ayo Edebiri, Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph. (Pals Keke Palmer and Storm Reid already won awards for their work at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremonies on Jan. 6 and 7.)
"I'm rooting for everybody Black, but I'm rooting for everybody. It's hard to do what we do. There is a science and there is a craft to it," he said. "I'm just excited to be at the helm hosting one of the biggest nights in Hollywood."
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See PEOPLE's full coverage of the 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards as they're broadcasting live on Fox from the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles.
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