Cedric the Entertainer Pays Homage to Biz Markie with Emmys 2021 Opening Performance

The show's host kicked off the night by parodying the late rapper's hit "Just a Friend"

Cedric the Entertainer has made his debut as host of the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

During Sunday's annual awards show, the Neighborhood actor, 57, kicked things off by recalling some of his favorite television moments.

"You know why I wanted to host the Emmys? Because it gives me a chance to thank TV for all that it's meant to me," he said in a pre-recorded video. "We all have our favorite shows from growing up but my favorite TV memory is sitting with my grandmother watching our programs together. And tonight, it isn't about just about the very best of this past year, it's all about the things that we love about television."

Cedric the entertainer

Cedric continued, "Now some of ya'll thought this celebration would be more subdued, kind of like an Emmys light, but, that's not the way this host treats his best friend."

Then Cedric busted onto the Emmys stage with a performance of the late Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," parodied to pay tribute to television. "TV, you got what I need," he sang.

cedric the entertainer
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Rappers LL Cool J and Lil Dicky and actress-singer Rita Wilson joined in as well. They got the whole audience of celebrities involved, too, with Anthony Anderson, Mandy Moore, Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez and Tracee Ellis Ross, among the stars standing in their seats to sing along.

"This is the Emmys people, that's how we do it!" Cedric said when they wrapped the song, adding, "R.I.P. to the one and only Biz Markie."

Later, during his monologue, Cedric talked about having to be vaccinated to attend the ceremony.

Never miss a story — sign up forPEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"I did not have a reaction like Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend, okay," Cedric joked. "I got Pfizer, you know what I'm saying? Because I'm bougie, alright? Pfizer, that's the Neiman Marcus of vaccines, you know what I mean? Moderna, that's Macy's and then Johnson and Johnson, that's TJ Maxx of course."

The comedian joked that with so many famous faces in the room, "we [are] not leaving until we find a new host of Jeopardy! in here somewhere."

Cedric also discussed the pressures of hosting the Emmys.

"It comes with a lot of pressure being Black hosting a job like this. Because my people they expect that I can just give an award to anybody," he said. "Black people are like 'Yo Ced, come on man, you got to give Martin Lawrence an Emmy. And not just Martin, see, you got to give Sheneneh one too.' I'm like, 'That's the same person dog.' Jimmy Kimmel don't have that problem."

Cedric previously opened up about hosting the show for the first time and the ideas he had in mind to make the evening a night to remember.

"We wanted to do something that reminded viewers of the big shows," he told PEOPLE. "Two of my favorite Emmy hosts are Billy Crystal and Martin Short. We didn't want to go Broadway with it, but we do want to do something similar to that. So we got a big, fun number to open up and show that's got some sketches."

"I love television, so I wanted to do these mashups of me mixed in with other TV shows," he continued. "So you may see me on The Crown. You may see me inside Succession. I mean, these are fun ideas that we really want to have fun with. We all love shows and we wish, like, 'Oh, I wish I could be on that show.' And so here's a good opportunity for me to do it with the magic of technology."

He added that he was just a bit "nervous" going into the hosting gig, especially given that the event will have a limited in-person, live audience of nominees and their guests, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Emmys to go mostly virtual in 2020.

RELATED VIDEO: Cedric the Entertainer Jokes He's 'the Tom Brady of This Joint' as He Preps to Host the Emmys

"So I think that had me a little, say, nervous if you will, to think about like, 'Oh, I'm the guy that's bringing it back out,'" he said. "This is how we set the mark. So I think that that's the only place where I feel like there's pressure, but I plan on having a good time."

The 73rd Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, are airing live from 8-11 p.m. ET on CBS.

Catch PEOPLE (the TV show!) Monday through Friday on select TV stations (check your local listings for exact times). You can also stream the show daily at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT on PeopleTV.com and People.com.

Related Articles