CULVER CITY, California — Saturday's VH1 Big in '05 Awards lasted a whole 15 seconds before someone made a Jessica Simpson/ Nick Lachey divorce joke.
The pop culture extravaganza was Simpson's first public outing since the split was announced nine days earlier, and the former "Newlyweds" star not only stole the spotlight on the red carpet and won the night's first award, she provided plenty of fodder for the comedians in the house.
"I can get you a ticket. Jessica Simpson has an extra one," host D.L. Hughley said in the show's opening seconds, following a few minutes later with, "Don't worry, the breakup is amicable. They gonna split everything 50/50: He gets the house, she gets the career" (see "It's Official: Jessica Simpson And Nick Lachey Split").
Simpson, who brought mother Tina as her date, bypassed reporters, but did yell out that it was ladies night. She also avoided the topic when accepting her award, for Big Stylin', instead letting her bubbly personality shine.
"Is it kinda weird I'm getting a little bit emotionable — emotionable? — emotional about winning a style icon award?" Simpson said with a laugh. "[I want to thank] my mother. She taught me how to match my scrunchies with my socks when I was a kid. Ha ha. I laugh at myself, sorry."
Also laughing at Simpson was Jeremy Piven, who took a shot at her when accepting his Big Breakthrough award a few minutes later. "My mom didn't teach me how to match my scrunchies with my socks, but she did teach me to act," quipped the "Entourage" star, whose mother is an acting coach.
Lohan, Cannon, Simpson, Teutuls And More At VH1 Big In '05 Awards
Piven, like most of the winners, also joked about the Big in '05 trophy, which Piven likened to the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup. "This is a very large item that I'm going to fill with adult beverages tonight," he said.
"This is heavy," said Lindsay Lohan, who beat Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and Kristin Cavalerri for Big It Girl. "If I lost that much weight [as the tabloids reported] I don't know how I could hold it."
Lohan then dedicated the award to the paparazzi, " 'Cause being big in '05 means getting in three car crashes," she said.
The night's only multiple winner was Kanye West, who won the coveted Big Entertainer, as well as Big Quote, for his notorious Hurricane Katrina telethon comment, "George Bush doesn't care about black people" (see "Jay-Z, Diddy, Others Reach Out To Disaster Victims; Kanye West Attacks Bush During Telethon"). West, accepting Big Entertainer from across Los Angeles at the Gibson Amphitheatre where he was performing on tour, thanked NBC and Mike Meyers, who was standing next to him when he made the comment on that network. He also thanked Time magazine, who put him on a recent cover, and then took a dig at another magazine.
"I've never been on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, 'cause I'm entertainment yearly," West said with a grin.
Other musicians who took home trophies included Gwen Stefani for Big Download with "Hollaback Girl" and Green Day, who won Big Music Artist. "Holy pop culture," frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, pretty much summing up the night, which was packed with references to TomKat and Brangelina, not to mention Kate Moss, Jude Law and George W. Bush.
Bo Bice won Big Reality Star, but feared leaving with the trophy. "I think I know who is in the most trouble tonight," he said. "I [beat out] a bounty hunter [Dog from the A&E series), Danny Bonaduce, Tommy Lee — please don't kick my ass when I leave here tonight." (Bonaduce, the show's announcer, then appeared onstage to jokingly threaten Bice.)
Dozens of other reality stars also got to take the stage in a mock "We Are the World" tribute called "We Are Reality Stars," performed by former castmembers from shows including "Survivor," "The Apprentice" and "The Bachelor" under the name Artists United for Reality. "A wise man once said truth is stranger than fiction" "American Idol" contestant Anthony Fedorov sang in the opening line.
Other, more serious performances came from INXS, whose own reality star, J.D. Fortune, led the band through "Pretty Vegas" and "New Sensation"; Fall Out Boy, who performed "Sugar, We're Going Down;" Def Leppard, who played the fan-voted "Pour Some Sugar on Me," and surprise guests Audioslave (sans guitarist Tom Morello), who performed an acoustic rendition of "Doesn't Remind Me."
Winners who unsurprisingly did not make the ceremony to collect their awards included Michael Jackson (Big Shocker for getting acquitted on child-molestation charges), Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie (Big Feud) and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (Big Hook Up).
On the red carpet before the show at Sony Studios, Jessica was the talk of the night, even though she was the last to arrive.
"I really want to meet Jessica Simpson, so hopefully I'll get to," "Laguna Beach" star Kristin Cavalerri said.
"I want to talk to Jessica," said comedian Ant, who hosted the pre-show. "I have a pregnancy test I want her to take."
Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, meanwhile, claimed to have the bigger story of the night. "I left my underwear behind," he said, pulling down the front of his pants to prove it.