During his 2021 CMA Awards monologue, Luke Bryan did something the previous two hosts went to great lengths not to do: He told a controversial joke.

It was quick and received with equal parts and laughter and groans, proving the polarizing nature of his quip. It came near the end of his intro, just before his fellow American Idol judges Lionel Richie and Katy Perry surprised him onstage.

Bryan — the show's first solo host in nearly two decades — promised that everyone in attendance had followed strenuous health protocols. He then suggested they were all vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

"Or immunized?" he said slowly, smiling and panning the room. It was a jab at NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who last summer told media he was immunized against the virus when asked if he was vaccinated. Just last week, he contracted the virus.

"Who is it?" Bryan asked, doubling down on the joke. Cameras then panned to Carrie Underwood, whose husband, Mike Fisher, recently spoke up in support of Rodgers. Her face didn't budge.

Awards shows — especially country awards shows — have gone to great lengths to avoid social or political comments in recent years, something Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood did uniquely well during their long run as co-hosts. That was it for the "controversy" this year.

The rest of his slow-paced, but entertaining opener made fun of himself. He brought up that he had zero nominations, despite winning an Entertainer of the Year trophy as recently as April at the ACM Awards. There was a familiar and charming redneck braggadocio to his patter. He casually worked the room, almost as if there was no script and he was comfortable with it.

Richie and Perry ultimately joined him to announce the night's first award, but not before they took a shot at Bryan, too.

"I have hosted other awards shows," Bryan said, questioning why they joined him to help.

"Yeah, and we've seen those," Perry snapped. The crowd laughed harder at this line.

2021 CMA Awards - The Best Red Carpet Pictures

The best from the 2021 CMA Awards red carpet. See pictures of CMA host Luke Bryan and his wife, Old Dominion, Jimmie Allen and more. Country music's biggest night took place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashvill on Nov. 10.

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