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30 embarrassing award show moments

30 embarrassing award show moments

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Radium treatment in London

Award shows are so elegant — the dresses, the performances, the drama! But there have been some not-so-elegant moments, such as falls, inappropriate remarks, and mispronounced names, among a slew of other cringeworthy incidents.

If you’re not afraid of a little secondhand embarrassment, read on to find 30 embarrassing award show moments.

1. ‘Imma let you finish’

Award show: MTV Video Music Awards (MTV VMAs)
Year: 2009
Ah yes, how can we forget this iconic moment? Rapper and Kim Kardashian beau Kanye West has done a lot of embarrassing things, but this one remains one of his all-time cringe moments. It all began when Taylor Swift was in the middle of accepting an award for her music video “You Belong With Me.”

Embarrassing awards show moments

Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

West jumped on stage and interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech to tell the audience that Beyoncé should have won the award. “Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” West said. Beyoncé’s reaction echoed a lot of viewers’ at the time …

NEXT: Who’s Adele Dazeem?

2. John Travolta calls Idina Menzel ‘Adele Dazeem’

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2014
Oh, John Travolta … You’re a great dancer but not the greatest award show presenter. During the 2014 Academy Awards, Travolta introduced actress and singer Idina Menzel for her performance of “Let it Go” from Frozen but didn’t quite say her name right.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Instead of “Idina Menzel,” the Saturday Night Fever star called her “Adele Dazeem” (*Facepalm*). A true professional, Menzel graciously stepped on stage without acknowledging Travolta’s flub. Fortunately, this mistake just raised awareness of Menzel.

NEXT: Some audiences thought this was on purpose.

3. Jennifer Lawrence falls down

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2013
This might truly be one of the most embarrassing award show moments (or it could all be an act). The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence was walking up to the stage to accept her Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook when she tripped and fell on the steps.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

“I kept thinking, ‘Cakewalk, cakewalk, cakewalk.’ I thought, ‘Why is cakewalk stuck in my head?’” she told W Magazine. “I realized my stylist had told me, ‘Kick, walk, kick, walk.’ You are supposed to kick the dress out while you walk, and I totally forgot.”

NEXT: We were all thinking it, he just said it …

4. Ricky Gervais pokes fun at Hollywood

Award show: Golden Globes
Year: 2020
British comedian and former The Office star Ricky Gervais hosted the 2020 Golden Globes with scathing commentary about Hollywood. While some viewers watched gleefully, some stars visibly cringed. “If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech,” Gervais said.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Paul Drinkwater/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

“You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,” he continued. Other topics covered — ISIS, a lack of diversity in Hollywood, and Jeffrey Epstein (‘I know he’s your friend but I don’t care … You had to make your own way here in your own plane, didn’t you?’).

NEXT: Be careful when wearing cloaks, folks — even if it’s Armani!

5. Madonna gets yanked downstairs

Award show: British Record Industry Trusts Show (The BRIT Awards)
Year: 2015
Madonna handled one of the most embarrassing award show moments with grace — despite falling downstairs. The culprit in this fiasco was a wardrobe malfunction, more specifically, a cape. A backup dancer ripped off Madge’s cloak before it was untied.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Samir Hussein/Redferns via Getty Images

Madonna was pulled backward down a few stairs and onto the floor as a consequence. She stopped singing “Living for Love” for a moment but then powered through the rest of the number. A true professional!

NEXT: This wouldn’t have happened with a live band — just saying!

6. Beyoncé’s backing track goes berserk

Award show: MTV European Music Awards (MTV EMAs)
Year: 2003
What do you do when the track you’re supposed to sing over goes haywire? Queen Bey kept her performance of “Baby Boy” moving despite backing track malfunctions, but eventually gave up.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

“Baby boy, you are so damn fine,” kept repeating over and over as Beyoncé waved to the audience and headed backstage. This incident proves that you can’t win them all — even if you’re a queen.

NEXT: Red was a good album — but apparently not Grammy material.

7. Taylor Swift looked like she thought she won another Grammy

Award show: Grammy Awards
Year: 2014
In Swift’s defense, it DID sound like presenter Alicia Keys was going to say “Red” at first. Of course, the internet had a swift (get it?) reaction to the pop star’s facial expression when she thought Red won the award for Album of the Year.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Recording Academy / GRAMMYs via YouTube

The Grammy instead went to French robot DJs Daft Punk (they’re just DRESSED UP as robots, Linda) for their album Random Access Memories. Swift had previously taken home a Grammy for her album Fearless, so one for Red would have been a double whammy! Alas, it wasn’t her day …

NEXT: Note to self — don’t get on Nicki Minaj’s bad side … 

8. Nicki Minaj confronts Miley Cyrus

Award show: MTV VMAs
Year: 2015
This was possibly one of the most embarrassing award show moments, at least for Miley Cyrus — Nicki Minaj was probably quite pleased with herself. It all started when Cyrus told The New York Times that Minaj is “not too kind.”

Embarrassing awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

“And now back to this b**ch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press — Miley, what’s good?” Minaj clapped back at Cyrus after accepting her award for Best Hip-Hop Video.

NEXT: Just FYI, the award for “Artist of the Millennium” doesn’t exist.

9. Michael Jackson thought he won an award that doesn’t exist

Award show: MTV VMAs
Year: 2002
When singer Britney Spears introduced fellow singer Michael Jackson to wish him “happy birthday” at the 2002 MTV VMAs, she said she considered him the “artist of the millennium.” He was handed a treble clef-shaped award with a bright-red bow as a gift.

Embarrassing awards show moments

KMazur/WireImage via Getty Images

Jackson began making an acceptance speech: “When I was a little boy in Indiana if someone had told me I’d be getting the ‘Artist of the Millennium award,’ I wouldn’t have believed it.” Well, it’s pretty unbelievable because that award doesn’t exist.

NEXT: The internet called out this bit as sexist when it aired.

10. Sofía Vergara gets put on a pedestal

Award show: Emmy Awards
Year: 2014
The Modern Family star struck a pose on a rotating pedestal while the Television Academy’s chairman, Bruce Rosenblum, gave a speech about the TV industry. It ended with him saying: “What truly matters is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch.”

Embarrassing awards show moments

Michael Tran/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Sarah Begley wrote in Time: “Though the gimmick might have turned into a commentary on how Hollywood actresses are hypersexualized and objectified, the second beat of the joke never came. Instead, it ended with a straight-up justification for the sex-sells mentality.”

NEXT: Princess Diaries and Pineapple Express don’t mix …

11. Anne Hathaway and James Franco awkwardly cohost

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2011
The entirety of Princess Diaries actress Anne Hathaway and Pineapple Express actor James Franco’s hosting of the Oscars was cringey, to say the least. Thus, we’ve added it to our list of embarrassing award show moments, although it’s one long moment — or many moments?

Embarrassing awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Whatever, you get the gist. The critiques of Hathaway and Franco post-Oscars said that the pair’s personalities clashed, possibly creating the awkwardness between them. It’s probably a lot easier to cohost when you like your cohost, no?

NEXT: She wasn’t on stage with the rest of the girl group’s comeback at the end of 2019.

12. Melody shows up late to The Pussycat Dolls’ performance

Award show: American Music Awards (AMAs)
Year: 2006
Former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton told the Mirror Online that she felt “worthless” while in the group. “I had never felt insecure until I joined The Pussycat Dolls.” Melody was recruited as a singer — but record execs never let her sing. This AMAs performance is a prime example of this tension.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Michael Caulfied Archive/WireImage via Getty Images

Despite a chair falling over, The Dolls’ performance of “Buttons” was going well until Thornton appeared on stage with only 40 seconds left in the number. Thornton proceeded to sing off-pitch over Nicole Scherzinger’s vocals. She’s sung over Scherzinger before — but was on key.

NEXT: To her credit, she stood up right away.

13. Jennifer Lopez takes a spill

Award show: AMAs
Year: 2009
During her performance of “Louboutins” — which was boxing-themed for some reason — Jennifer Lopez attempted a stunt but didn’t quite land it right. Using her backup dancers as a makeshift staircase, J.Lo climbed up the stairs and jumped off the last dancer.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Unfortunately, she didn’t stick the landing and ended up on her butt. Lopez hopped up onto her feet almost immediately and finished the rest of “Louboutins” without an issue. Hey — it was a big stunt that you and I probably couldn’t do either.

NEXT: Some family members are a little TOO close.

14. Angelina Jolie kisses her brother on the lips

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2000
To be honest, I can’t tell that they’re kissing on the lips in this 2000 Academy Awards video. But a quick Google search of Angelina Jolie and her brother James Haven shows they have a history of lip-locking.

Embarrassing awards show moments

SGranitz/WireImage via Getty Images

This probably wouldn’t be an addition to a list of embarrassing award show moments for Jolie and Haven, but plenty of individuals were uncomfortable with that Oscars kiss. To make matters worse, Jolie said she was “in love” with her brother upon accepting her award for Girl, Interrupted.

NEXT: Note to self — don’t interrupt Jay-Z’s performances …

15. Lil Mama shows up to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance … uninvited

Award show: MTV VMAs
Year: 2009
Interestingly, this happened the same night that Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech (see slide number one). Let’s set the scene: Rapper Jay-Z and singer Alicia Keys were wrapping up a performance of “Empire State of Mind.”

Embarrassing awards show moments

Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Then — out of nowhere — “Lip Gloss” singer Lil Mama hopped up on stage to pose with Keys and Jay-Z at the end of the song. Jay-Z was really unhappy, calling Lil Mama’s crashing of his performance “outta line.” Lil Mama later apologized.

NEXT: The unedited version of this photo is not safe for work (NSFW) …

16. Man streaks as Elizabeth Taylor takes the stage

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 1974
Oscars cohost David Niven was introducing actress Elizabeth Taylor when a naked man sporting a very ’70s mustache streaked across the stage, throwing up a peace sign in the process. After 30 seconds of laughter from the audience, Niven made a joke.

Hulton Archive via Getty Images

“Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” The streaker was artist, photographer, and gay rights activist Robert Opel. That moment gained Opel and his work some notoriety.

NEXT: This Golden Globes acceptance speech was a total cringe-fest.

17. Jacqueline Bisset’s strange Golden Globes acceptance speech

Award show: Golden Globes
Year: 2014
Upon accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries, or TV Movie for Dancing on the Edge, actress Jacqueline Bisset embarked on what some critics said was a strange speech. She dropped the “S word,” said forgiveness is her best beauty treatment …

Embarrassing awards show moments

Paul Drinkwater/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

And she said, “Like my mother used to say, ‘Go to hell and don’t come back.’” A report in Variety explained Bisset’s confusing behavior. Apparently, she didn’t know her category was coming up so soon and got frazzled when her name was called.

NEXT: The first fall was planned — the rest weren’t.

18. Katy Perry falls — four times

Award show: MTV Latin America Awards (Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica)
Year: 2008
At the end of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” performance, she jumped into a big pink cake — which was planned — but the other times she slipped on the icing on the ground probably weren’t.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Her guitarist tried to help her up, but Perry kept slipping. She eventually crawled away — gravity and icing overpowered her, apparently. Fortunately, this all occurred at the end of the performance, with the rest of the song going off without a hitch.

NEXT: This moment became a meme shared widely across the internet.

19. Nicole Kidman’s seal-like clapping

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2017
Viewers noticed actress Nicole Kidman’s unique method of clapping, which looked to some as one that was very seal-like. Memes of Kidman’s seal clapping circled the internet and she became the third-most Googled person from the Oscars red carpet.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Entertainment Tonight via YouTube

Apparently, she was clapping like this to avoid damaging her expensive rings. “It was really awkward!” Kidman told KISS FM. “I was like gosh, I want to clap, I don’t want to not be clapping, which would be worse, right? ‘Why isn’t Nicole clapping?’”

NEXT: “Awkward Man” also drove the internet wild.

20. ‘Awkward man’ creeps behind Neil Patrick Harris

Award show: Emmy Awards
Year: 2013
Actor Neil Patrick Harris was doing his thing, hosting the 2013 Emmys when a random man appeared behind him. The man had a “deer in headlights” expression like he accidentally made it onto the stage somehow. He eventually slowly sidestepped offstage.

Embarrassing awards show moments

mobyvedr via YouTube

This incident might have been planned — audiences later found out “Awkward Man” was Paul Greenberg, a writer on the award show. One would think a TV writer might not accidentally find themselves onstage …

NEXT: No fans were (seriously) injured during this performance.

21. Miguel accidentally falls on a fan

Award show: Billboard Music Awards
Year: 2013
This was a bummer for Miguel (and the fan he landed on) because it was such a good performance pre-clothesline. Miguel was killing it during a performance of “Adorn” at the Billboard Music Awards … until he jumped from one part of the stage to another.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Billboard.com

He ended up clotheslining a fan and landed on her with his crotch in her face. Looking at the video, that looks like it hurt! Miguel and the injured fan were interviewed backstage and she seemed OK except for the fact that she was icing her arm.

NEXT: “Just a little blood, but, whatever, rock and roll.” 

22. Joe Jonas falls and cuts his hand

Award show: AMAs
Year: 2007
To start off their performance, The Jonas Brothers had three panels of glass shatter in front of them. Unfortunately, brother Joe Jonas tripped over the panel threshold, fell, and sliced his hand on the glass on the ground.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

We’re not entertainment experts by any means, but I would think omitting any dangerous elements from the stage is a good idea. Joe Jonas was reported saying backstage: “Just a little blood, but, whatever, rock and roll.”

NEXT: Audiences thought he meant he was the first gay male to win an Oscar — which isn’t true.

23. Sam Smith screws up an Ian McKellen quote

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2016
For viewers that didn’t know that Sam Smith just screwed up an Ian McKellen quote, it sounded like the singer was congratulating himself. Upon accepting his Oscar for Best Original Song, Smith implied he was the first openly gay male to win one.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Apparently he was trying to quote Ian McKellen. Viewers and critics were confused for a second, because there have been other openly gay men to win Oscars. (See: Elton John, Dustin Lance Black, and Howard Ashman.)

NEXT: Some viewers were not happy with Seth MacFarlane after he did this.

24. Seth MacFarlane offends a bunch of people

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2013
Academy Awards host Seth MacFarlane did a lot of things to offend viewers across the U.S. in 2013. There was this offensive song about Hollywood actresses — Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron pre-recorded looks of shock to show during the song.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Mark Davis/WireImage via Getty Images

(Theron’s character that MacFarlane mentioned in his song was a victim of abuse, just FYI … ) Jennifer Lawrence was mentioned and was pre-recorded herself fist-bumping in victory. Among other offensive things MacFarlane said: calling Django Unchained Rihanna and Chris Brown’s “date movie.”

NEXT: The internet is still in love with this meme.

25. Chrissy Teigen’s crying face becomes a meme

Award show: Golden Globes
Year: 2015
The camera happened to land on Chrissy Teigen at a not-so-model-like moment and thus, her “crying face” became a meme. Sorry, Chrissy. The model was tearing up as her husband, singer John Legend, walked onstage to accept his award for “Best Original Song.”

Embarrassing awards show moments

Entertainment Tonight via YouTube

“Sorry I don’t practice my cry face okay,” Teigen quipped on Twitter after her “cry face” went viral. “It’s been 5 minutes and I’m a meme.” It’s been years since the 2015 Golden Globes, and the Teigen cry-face meme is still going strong on the internet.

NEXT: Whoever was in charge of the envelopes probably got fired.

26. The La La Land and Moonlight mix-up

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 2017
Iconic silver screen stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (otherwise known as Bonnie and Clyde) were presenting the Oscar for Best Picture when they were given the wrong envelope. They announced that La La Land had won, but Moonlight was the actual winner.

Embarrassed awards show moments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Turns out that Dunaway and Beatty were given the envelope announcing Emma Stone’s Best Actress award — but that award had already been announced. This much-talked-about incident became known as #EnvelopeGate on the internet.

NEXT: David Letterman wasn’t always funny.

27. David Letterman makes a bad Oprah and Uma Thurman joke

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 1995
Late Show host David Letterman had the honor — and difficult job — of hosting the Academy Awards in 1995. Letterman started off his hosting duties with a super lame joke: “I’ve been dying to do something all day and I think maybe we can take care of this,” he said.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Oscars via YouTube

“Oprah? Uma. Uma? Oprah. I feel much better. Have you kids met Keanu?” The audience laughed, but it’s unsure how many people actually thought that joke was hilarious. The YouTube commenters seem to think Letterman’s joke was funny, though.

NEXT: Here’s another meme-worthy moment from 2016 involving Leonardo DiCaprio.

28. That face Leonardo DiCaprio made at Lady Gaga

Award show: Golden Globes
Year: 2016
“Oh lord — that’s trending, huh?” Leonardo DiCaprio asked Entertainment Tonight after they showed him the then-viral GIF. The GIF in question shows Lady Gaga squeezing by DiCaprio to accept her Golden Globe. DiCaprio seemed to cringe.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Clevver News via YouTube

Things aren’t always what they seem, however. DiCaprio told Entertainment Tonight that he meant nothing by his cringe face. “I just didn’t know what was passing me, that’s all!” he said.

NEXT: Faith Hill maintains she was just joking and has nothing against Carrie Underwood.

29. Fans thought Faith Hill was mad at Carrie Underwood

Award show: Country Music Awards (CMAs)
Year: 2006
After singer Carrie Underwood was announced as the winner of the CMAs’ Female Vocalist of the Year award, fellow singer Faith Hill was seen throwing her hands up in the air grinning, then that smile turned to a scowl and she seemingly shouted “WHAT?” at the camera.

Embarrassing awards show moments

Joe Cavallaro via YouTube

At first, viewers thought Hill was freaking out over the loss. Hill came back saying she was just joking. The star said: “The idea that I would act disrespectful towards a fellow musician is unimaginable to me … Carrie is a talented and deserving Female Vocalist of the Year.”

NEXT: Disney sued the Academy Awards over this.

30. Rob Lowe sings ‘Proud Mary’ with Snow White

Award show: Academy Awards
Year: 1989
If you’re looking for a truly confusing but hilarious performance, look no further than this performance Rob Lowe did with an actress dressed up like Snow White. The New York Times had a scathing review written up about the performance.

Embarrassing awards show moments

DynapubsA via YouTube

“Snow White played as a simpering ninny, performed a duet of ‘Proud Mary’ with Rob Lowe, who would be well-advised to confine all future musical activities to the shower,” Janet Maslin wrote in March 1989 in The New York Times. Apparently, the show’s producer, Allan Carr, was shunned in Hollywood after this aired. Definitely one of the most embarrassing award show moments!