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Luke Bryan, Peyton Manning’s Funniest 2023 CMA Awards Monologue Moments



Peyton Manning and Luke Bryan poked fun at country music’s biggest stars — and couldn’t help but mention Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce — while hosting the 2023 CMA Awards.

“We’re back. You know what that means?” Manning, 47, asked his cohost, also 47, during their opening monologue on Wednesday, November 8. Bryan didn’t skip a beat, replying, “Yep, Travis and Taylor weren’t available.” (Swift, 33, and Kelce, 34, have been making headlines since they started seeing each other in September. The “Exile” singer has since become a fixture at the tight end’s Kansas City Chiefs games.)

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Bryan and Manning, who cohosted the awards show for the first time in 2022, then made a joke about Swift’s star power — and one specific football team’s lack of efficiency.

“Luke, you know the difference between Taylor Swift and the New York Jets?” Manning pondered. “Uh, Taylor can sell out a stadium!” Bryan quipped.

The retired NFL quarterback applauded Bryan for nailing it, teasing, “I had you do that punchline Luke so I don’t get in trouble.”

Manning also brought his little brother, Eli Manning, into the discussion as he and Bryan commented on CMA Awards nominee Jelly Roll’s iconic face ink.

“Jelly Roll is so inspirational, he has my mom considering a face tattoo,” Bryan said, to which Peyton replied, “The Mannings are already way ahead of you pal. Eli got his already.” The former Indianapolis Colts player then showed a photo on stage of Eli, 42, with fake drawings all over his face.

The emcees concluded their opening monologue by singing together on stage. When Bryan started a song, he challenged his counterpart to finish it. Peyton trolled the singer when he claimed he couldn’t remember Bryan’s “One Margarita.”

Complete List of Nominees and Winners at the 2023 CMA Awards 434

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Country music stars are celebrating big wins at the 2023 CMA Awards. This year’s ceremony, which takes place on Wednesday, November 8, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, is being hosted by NFL legend Peyton Manning and country music’s own Luke Bryan for the second year in a row. In addition to his hosting duties, […]

Bryan revealed in October that he and Peyton easily secured the gig for a second time. “I think literally we were walking off the stage last year and the CMAs were already trying to get us to come on board one more time and sign up again,” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America.

The musician went on to tease the cohosts’ plans for landing laughs during the ceremony. “I think the main thing is just to be the master of ceremonies and let the music and the show and the artists speak for themselves,” Bryan explained. “Then, at some point, Peyton and I will have to try to come up with a couple funny jokes and poke a few people, but the bottom line is just be ourselves and really keep the people in the room engaged and the audience at home having fun and smiling.”

While Peyton and Bryan’s chemistry was evident at the 2022 awards show, they did not see eye to eye on how to approach their roles. “I think we both have our little things that we’re strong at and it’s fun to blend them together,” Bryan noted in a sneak peek published by Parade in October. “I am a little more loose, off the cuff, and Peyton wants a play in.”

Peyton then chimed in: “I spend most of my time kind of nudging him, ‘No, Luke, just read the teleprompter.’”

The pair’s monologue from the 2022 ceremony made headlines after Peyton referred to an awkward moment when Carrie Underwood gave Bryan side eye during his solo hosting venture the previous year. “Carrie Underwood and I have a lot in common,” Peyton told Bryan. “We both work with Brad Paisley, we’ve both been on Sunday Night Football a lot and we’re both very nervous about what Luke Bryan might say tonight.”

Bryan added at the time, “Hell, even I’m nervous about what Luke Bryan might say tonight.”

The joke made light of the fact that Underwood, 40, was spotted glaring at Bryan during the 2021 awards show after he poked fun at Aaron Rodgers’ anti-vaccination stance, which her husband, Mike Fisher, publicly supported.

“Whatever makes you country, you are welcome here tonight,” Bryan said at the time. “Rest assured, we’re following all the health protocols to keep everyone safe, and it is so great to be here with all my fellow artists — tested and together. Or immunized? Who is it? Just playing.”

The camera then panned to Underwood, who notably did not laugh at Bryan’s barb.

For more from Nashville, check out Us Weekly‘s VIP Guide to Music City.