When Ellen eased the country back into laughing

Ellen DeGeneres in a outfit spoofing Björk's swan attire from the Oscars.
Ellen DeGeneres kept it lively in 2001 after the events of 9/11 led to two Emmys cancellations before going ahead with the ceremony in November.
(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

This is one of our nine most surprising, historic and memorable moments from past Emmys. See the full list.

After two postponements following the tragic events of 9/11, Ellen DeGeneres hosted an unfussy 2001 Emmys in November with hilarious vigor. She nonchalantly opened her monologue with “Welcome to the 53rd, 54th and 55th Emmy Awards’’ and deftly handled the moment with such lines as “What can bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews.” Funny bits on- and offstage took viewers on a tour around the Shubert Theatre, a run-in with Jiminy Glick (Martin Short) and an impromptu interview with an unsuspecting seat filler to ask, “What celebrity left you the warmest seat?” The most eye-popping moment: the comedian wearing a swan dress inspired by what singer-songwriter Björk wore at the Academy Awards earlier that year. To the laughing crowd she quipped, “I guess this is business casual.” The momentous evening concluded with a standing ovation and, quite possibly, a healing nation comfortable enough to laugh once again.