As Mr. Spicer prepared to return to Washington, he was asked if he was worried that Mr. Trump would take offense over the skit, which many viewers saw as lampooning the president’s preoccupation with the size of his inauguration crowd.
“I certainly hope not,” Mr. Spicer said after a brief pause. “This was an attempt to poke a little fun at myself and add a little bit of levity to the event.”
Mr. Spicer made his Emmys appearance at the end of Mr. Colbert’s opening monologue, which included a long riff about Mr. Trump’s uneasy relationship with the entertainment industry and his apparent frustration that his NBC reality series “The Apprentice” never won an Emmy Award.
Mr. Colbert, a frequent critic of both Mr. Trump and Mr. Spicer, went on to say that the president was primarily concerned with TV ratings, but that there was no way to know how large his audience was.
Mr. Colbert asked, “Sean, do you know?”
At that point, Mr. Spicer shot out of the wings — pushing a podium similar to the one immortalized by Melissa McCarthy in her impersonation of him on “Saturday Night Live.”
He recited his briefing room statement, nearly word for word. “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period — both in person and around the world,” he declared with a semi-straight face.
Laughter and applause could be heard throughout the Microsoft Theater, and celebrities in the audience were seen on the telecast, reacting with their mouths agape.
Mr. Spicer said he did not give the president or senior White House staff a heads up about his appearance, which had been in the works for several days.
In fact, virtually no one knew about it. According to Mr. Spicer, Mr. Colbert suggested the idea himself, and passed it to the former press secretary through his producer at CBS, who had gotten to know Mr. Spicer well years earlier when he was a producer on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
When Mr. Spicer and his wife left Washington for Los Angeles on Saturday morning, he donned a disguise. He would not say what it was, though a friend of his hinted that it might have included fake facial hair. After…