2023 CMAs: Luke Bryan & Peyton Manning’s Hilarious Opening Monologue

Terry Wyatt / Getty Images

The two co-hosts once again graced the stage at the Country Music Association Awards to host the show and deliver an expected amusing opening act.

The 57th Annual CMA Awards kicked off live Wednesday night from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Starting with a performance by Jelly Roll and Wynonna Judd singing his CMA-nominated song “Need a Favor,” the audience saluted the opening number with a standing ovation.

The duo then turned the stage over to the CMA’s co-hosts Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning who kicked off their monologue with a jab at the world’s ‘most famous couple.’ 

Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning speak onstage during the 57th Annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on November 08, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Luke Bryan & Peyton Manning host the 57th Annual CMA Awards. Photo: Terry Wyatt / Getty Images

“We’re back. You know what that means?” Manning asked Bryan, who didn’t skip a beat, replying, “Yep, Travis and Taylor weren’t available.”

Bryan and Manning, who co-hosted 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 asked. “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.”

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce holding hands.
Taylor Swift & Travis Kelce Holding Hands. Photo: PEOPLE / GOTHAM / GC IMAGES

Then it came time for Bryan to challenge Manning on his knowledge of country songs after commenting that he’d seen Manning sing on stage with Parker McCollum.

“You know what Peyton, I want to give you a chance to sing tonight and at the same time, we’ll all get to see how much you know about country music. So I’ll sing the first line or two of a famous song and you sing the next line. You want to do this?”

“Absolutely not, no. There is no upside for me in this. I don’t know why I would do that, no.”

After a roaring cheer from the audience, Peyton shook his head and said,  “Alright, okay. I’ll give it a shot. Game on!”

Peyton Manning on stage with Parker McCollum singing, "Red Dirt Road."
Peyton Manning on stage with Parker McCollum singing, “Red Dirt Road.” Photo: ABC / Youtube

Starting with classics including Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler” and Garth Brooks’s “Friends In Low Places,” Peyton held his own, showcasing his subpar singing abilities, not missing a beat.

Luke then told Peyton he had one more song up his sleeve by a ‘legendary country artist.’ Peyton became excited at this news and replied, “Okay, this will be easy, great. Hit me!” But when Bryan started singing his hit “One Margarita,” Manning trolled the singer and said, “I got nothing. Is that song even out yet?” 

After trying the song for a second time, Manning looked towards his co-host and said, “I mean, I am stumped. I don’t know what to tell you, Luke,” earning a big laugh from the crowd.

They saved the most memorable moment for the end as Manning good-naturedly teased Bryan about his zipper mishap on stage, which had gone viral in a video. In the end, it was a lighthearted and enjoyable start to the 57th annual CMA Awards!

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 two co-hosts saved the best for last when Manning good-naturedly teased Bryan about performing with his zipper down, which had gone viral in a video. They put the video up on the big screen, which once again earned a good-sized laugh from the audience.

All in all, it was a fun, friendly way to kick off the 57th annual CMA Awards!

Watch Bryan and Manning’s opening monologue below!

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