By Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As Stephen Colbert took shots at U.S. President Donald Trump's tweeting habits at Sunday's Emmy Awards, it was the appearance of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer that stunned the star-studded audience, including Melissa McCarthy.
A beaming Spicer, donning a suit and bow tie, walked on stage wheeling in a podium that looked like the one he used to stand behind while addressing journalists at the White House, except it had 'The Emmys Hollywood' written on it.
McCarthy, who won a guest actress Emmy award this year for parodying Spicer on NBC's late night sketch show "Saturday Night Live," expressed surprise and laughed as she tapped her nose.
"This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period, both in person and around the world," Spicer said while pointing his finger at Colbert, the Emmys' host.
"Wow, that really soothes my fragile ego," Colbert deadpanned, before pointing at Spicer and saying, "Melissa McCarthy everyone, give it up," as Spicer laughed and shook his head.
Spicer served as Trump’s first press secretary, bursting onto the public stage in January with a scolding rant against reporters and accusing them of lowballing the size of the Inauguration Day crowd. He left the White House this summer, sparking a flurry of speculation as to his next career move.
The Emmy awards is likely to take a political twist this year, as stars and winners have often used awards show stages to make passionate speeches on topical issues.
The television industry's top awards kicked off with host Stephen Colbert singing a musical monologue that touched on climate change, news media and how streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon are taking on traditional TV.
The comedian then opened the ceremony poking fun at Trump, calling him "the biggest TV star of the last year," and criticizing the television academy for not giving Trump an Emmy award during his long-running tenure as the host of NBC's "The Apprentice."
"Why didn't you give him an Emmy? If he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn't have run for president," Colbert quipped.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Mary Milliken)