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The 7 Most Awkward Emmy Speeches of All Time logo 9/12/2018 Malcolm Venable
Jon Stewart et al. posing for the camera: Jon Stewart at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards | Photo Credits: Getty Images © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Jon Stewart at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards | Photo Credits: Getty Images

The Emmys are about excellence in television, and as nerve-wracking as it must be to stand in front of thousands of people gawking and clapping at you like so many Nicole Kidmans, viewers want nothing more than to see winners nail that acceptance speech -- to soak up the glory under the spotlight and sail through a gracious speech with ease. This seems like not that big of an ask for people who literally get paid to read lines for a living but god bless those precious celebs, not everybody gets it right. Though truly terrible Emmy acceptance speeches are rare to non-existent, there have been some seriously uncomfortable ones over the years. TV Guide dug through the archives and found the seven most cringe-worthy.

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7. Bertram van Munster, 2014

The speech The Amazing Race co-creator gave for winning Outstanding Reality Competition was short and mostly fine -- at first. But he ended a boilerplate statement about the joys of travel with, "The world is not a bad place and you can travel safely." Say what now? It was just bizarre.

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6. Kathy Griffin, 2007

In accepting her Outstanding Reality Program trophy for My Life on the D-List, Kathy played off the worn awards show trope of thanking Jesus by uh, not thanking Jesus and instead saying, "Suck it Jesus, this award is my god now!" Hmm. Kathy does edgy and confrontational like nobody else in Hollywood, but disrespecting some 173 million Americans' sacred figure veered off the cliff from edgy into the deep depths of awkward.

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5. Chevy Chase, 1976

Chase won Best Supporting Actor in Comedy for his work on Saturday Night Live, but Chase's time was already short since he and fellow nominees ran up on stage in a silly bit. By the time he got to his speech, if you can call it that, Redd Foxx was giving him the "Hurry it up" sign. Not really known for being a gentle sweetheart, Chase joked that his win was "totally expected" (how humble!) and mumbled out a few seemingly sincere thanks before leaving the stage. Granted, this was the anything-goes '70s and everything about that period was awkward, but still.

4. Jon Stewart, 2012

In his win for Best Variety Show at the 64th Emmys, Jon Stewart came to the mic panting, out of breath after doing a bit with Jimmy Fallon, and then huffed, "Free. Sandwich." Uh, okay then? After congratulating peers including Stephen Colbert, he joked that after Earth had burned, people would "find a box of these [statues] and they will know just how predictable these f---ing things" were in moment that kept censors on their toes. Not only did Stewart get bleeped, his hard-working, anonymous (to people at home) team went unacknowledged while he acted silly. This isn't the Golden Globes, Jon. Calm down.

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3. Sally Field, 2007

Yup, one of the most memorable speech-makers of all time -- Ms. "You like me!" -- Sally Field started out on a poignant note in winning for Lead Actress on Brothers & Sisters. But after starting her speech talking about the value of moms and women, she started discussing women waiting for their children to come home from war and then lost her place as the audience clapped. That prompted a mini-freakout, more stammering and her shouting, "If mothers ruled the world there would be no g*ddamned wars in the first place," which may be true (here's hoping we get a chance to the theory) but on the whole, it was all very clumsy.

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2. Patty Duke, 1970

Winning for the TV movie My Sweet Charlie, Patty Duke gave an acceptance speech that included long dramatic pauses and seemingly unconnected ideas like when she said, "I've always been told not to say thank you for too long but the best words I ever learned were hello, enthusiasm and thank you." Some people at the time speculated that Duke was on drugs or drunk, and the moment had a small affect on her career. However, Duke's career didn't suffer too much in the long run. In fact, she went on to win two more Emmys and she became a prominent mental health advocate after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982.

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1. Allison Janney, 2004

Everyone loves Allison Janney; it's a fact. But few people love her acceptance speech when she won Lead Actress in a Drama for The West Wing in 2004. Accepting her fourth Emmy (she's got seven now) Janney said she'd spoken to her competitor, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'sMariska Hargitay, before the ceremony and promised she'd give her Emmy to Hargitay if she won. Once Janney got up to the podium, though, she realized how silly that would be in the moment (her words) but asked Hargitay to come on stage with her nonetheless. Cut to Hargitay, wearing a "Durr, I guess?" expression, getting out of her seat only to stand awkwardly at the margins of the stage while Janney finished her speech. It almost made sense, but when Janney then said she'd love it if Edie Falco and the rest of the nominees would join her on stage too, you realized that no, none of this makes sense. "I'm serious," she persisted, while the others very wisely stayed in their seats. Janney certainly gets points for humility and trying to foster a sense of community, but she didn't think this through. 

Ready to see who'll deliver the next bad Emmy speech? The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Monday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC.


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