Uncomfortable Things Celebs Actually Said On Live TV

Live TV has given us some of the most talked about moments in history — from O.J. Simpson's anxiety-inducing low-speed car chase to the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas. It's graced us with Janet Jackson's major wardrobe malfunction, the result of a Super Bowl halftime show gone wrong, and marked the unification of Germany through the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Despite all these culturally significant moments, live TV has given us more than a few uncomfortable moments that networks would probably rather forget.

If you want to know a celebrity's darkest, most sinister thoughts, get them into a heated talk show debate (The View usually does the trick, though Today has its moments). When things are rolling live, Hollywood finally takes off its thick layer of perfectly applied makeup and gets real — too real. Though you can thank Nipplegate for NBC's five-second delay, live TV can get a whole lot worse than an accidental Saturday Night Live curse word slip.

From Raven-Symoné's racist workplace policy to Joaquin Phoenix's legendary Letterman interview, these live TV moments are so uncomfortable you can't help but watch. And while some things are better left unsaid, these celebs said it anyway.

Apparently, showering is a 'white people thing'

Oh, Naya Rivera. The girl has had a lot going on, including her called-off engagement to Big Sean, her surprise wedding to actor Ryan Dorsey (that happened a very curious three months later), and her eventual divorce (which she also called off). Cue a domestic battery arrest, a secret abortion, and the reveal of a lifelong struggle with anorexia, and you've got a proper media firestorm.

Rivera has always been the stuff of headlines. When she's not busy publicly labeling her husband a "pushover," she's throwing caution to the wind on live TV and firing off some rather misguided racially charged ideas. In a 2015 episode of The View, Rivera revealed her baffling opinion on showering: It's for white people.

"I have to say I have a theory about showering, [which] is that I think that white people shower a lot more than ethnics," she quipped. "I feel like showering more than once a day or every day is such a white people thing."

Rivera admitted, as a person of mixed-race, she showers just "once or twice every three days," much to the horror of The View's co-hosts. Of course, her comments enraged the masses, and she later apologized. Clearly, Rivera washes her mouth out with soap more often than the rest of her body.

But who would clean Kelly Osbourne's toilets?

The cast of Fashion Police can't stay out of trouble. That entire organization might need racial sensitivity training if we're judging by the headlines. First, Giuliana Rancic made the infamous "patchouli" and "weed" statement about Zendaya's locks. Then, Kelly Osbourne, who ended up leaving the show in protest, made a similar mistake a few months later.

In an August 2015 episode of The View (because there's always something with The View), Osbourne shared a very interesting stance on American immigration policy. The lavender-haired starlet asked, "If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilets, Donald Trump?" Latina co-host Rosie Perez, who must have taken a temporary reprieve from her toilet-cleaning duties to host the show, threw Osbourne some pretty fierce side-eye. Her subsequent back-peddling was as awkward as TV gets, especially considering Osbourne's harsh treatment of Rancic when she made her flub.

The truth is that Donald Trump's businesses probably wouldn't be functioning without immigrants. According to CNN, he's hired 1,256 foreign workers over the last 15 years, but suggesting that low-skilled jobs like housekeeping are relegated exclusively to Latinxs plays into damaging stereotypes. Osbourne eventually apologized on Extrawhere she asked not to be "pulled into this political nightmare." Too late, baby girl.

Hey, how's your dead wife doing?

The death of a spouse is immeasurably painful. In his memoir, comedian Martin Short described losing Nancy Dolman, his wife of 36 years, as "by far the most awful thing I've been through" (via CTV News). He admitted to still regularly having conversations with her long after she passed away from ovarian cancer in 2010. It's tragic, it's sad, and it's a terrible interview topic. Unfortunately, Kathie Lee Gifford's deceased-wife flub was caught on live television, making a pretty awkward moment for the audience, the cast, the crew, and pretty much everyone in the vicinity.

In 2012, Martin Short stopped by the Today show to promote Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. During the interview, Gifford complimented Short about his marriage and asked how he could still be so madly in love with his late wife after 36 years. It was clear she had no idea that Dolman passed away two years prior, and Short's answer was unbelievably heartbreaking. Instead of mentioning her tragic death, he acted like she was still there with him.  

Short managed to keep his composure like a champ and had no hard feelings towards Gifford for the mix-up. "On live television, people make mistakes. There's no ill-will intended," he told E! News. "It's nice to aspire to be kind of elegant."

Gifford tweeted an apology after realizing her egregious mistake, but our hearts still break for Short.

Workplace discrimination is so Raven

Remember when Raven-Symoné was a fresh-faced Disney channel darling without a single harmful opinion? At the very least, all of her potential misguided ideas were meticulously vetted in advance by the harsh, unforgiving eye of the Mouse. It's was simpler times. If only real-life Raven could've seen into the future — she'd have been horrified.

Since Raven-Symoné joined The View as a full-time co-host in 2015, she's caused quite the controversy (that's how they get ratings, right?). She's frequently come under fire for her views on race. She told Oprah that she doesn't identify as "African American" and is a "colorless person" (which allegedly caused one writer to "nearly [fall] off [her] d**n couch"). She also argued that Harriet Tubman didn't deserve to grace a $20 bill for her contributions to society. Things got even worse when her self-proclaimed colorblindness was miraculously cured. 

The former Disney star admitted on live TV that she supports workplace discrimination if someone's name happens to be too ethnic-sounding for her tastes. "I'm not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea," she told her View co-hosts. "It's just not going to happen. I'm not going to hire you."

The actress faced enough backlash to eventually issue a public apology where she admitted to being the victim of workplace discrimination on numerous fronts. It takes one to know one?

It's more about what Joaquin Phoenix didn't say to David Letterman

In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix quit acting, grew out his beard and embarked on a bizarre career in rap. After a few disastrous performances and public appearances, it was revealed that the two-year mental breakdown was completely staged. Phoenix's behavior was nothing more than performance art, and the whole thing was filmed for the mockumentary I'm Still Here. Of course, Phoenix's descent into feigned madness wouldn't be as infamous had it not been for one specific appearance on live TV.

The star mumbled through his interview on The Late Show with David Letterman, refusing to give much more than monosyllabic answers and keeping his sunglasses firmly affixed to his head. Between the awkward pauses and deflection, it was so uncomfortable that Letterman joked, "What can you tell us about your days with the Unabomber?"

Phoenix later apologized, claiming he assumed Letterman would "know the difference between a character and a real person." Though Letterman shrugged it off, the general public wasn't so keen on faking a mental breakdown. Phoenix went from Oscar nominations to barely being able to land a commercial once the jig was up. "There was definitely a period after I'm Still Here when there was a discernible difference in the quality of movies I was being offered," he told the Daily Mail.

Maybe next time, don't go on a live TV and purposely throw an interview if you want a better gig.

George Bush hates black people?

Kanye West, an African American man who regularly dons a Make America Great Again Hat and gets social media nods from a president that called African nations "s**thole countries," loves to stir the pot. So much so that he even visited the TMZ offices in 2018 to publicly proclaim that slavery was a choice. (You know it's bad when you go to TMZ for publicity before they come to you.)

But 2005 was a much simpler time. Yes, we were grappling with the intense devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but at least Kanye West stood for something good. In a Red Cross telethon, the rapper tried to raise money for Katrina victims rather than lining the pockets of billionaire politicians who may or may not have been conspiring with foreign dictators. Of course, because it's Kanye, he still had to cross the line. In the middle of the telethon, the rapper famously gave a deadpan stare to the camera and firmly announced, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Next to him, a bewildered Mike Myers was left speechless until the camera operator had the sense to cut.

West later apologized to George W. Bush because he "didn't have the grounds to call him racist." Man, dragon energy is really hard to tame.

Miley, what's good?

Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj used to be pretty friendly. In 2012, Miley Cyrus dressed as the rapper for Halloween and was met with a barrage of compliments from the star. They pair even posed together in a 2013 studio snap and sat next to each other at the 2015 Grammys. Why couldn't things stay this good forever? Oh yeah, because Cyrus told The New York Times that Minaj wasn't very nice.

Cyrus was responding to a rather minor argument Minaj had with Taylor Swift. Minaj tweeted about feeling like her song "Anaconda" was snubbed by the VMAs in favor of  women with "very slim bodies," and Swift assumed the tweet was about her. It wasn't. They cleared things up, and all was well in the pop world. Then Cyrus opened her mouth.

The feud played out on live TV during the MTV Video Music Awards. Minaj used her acceptance speech after winning Best Hip Hop Video to say, "Back to this b***h that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press: Miley, what's good?" Cue millions of millennial gasps.

Minaj later explained her reaction to MTV, claiming Cyrus should have been more sensitive about black issues if she wanted to enjoy the culture. Fortunately, the two reportedly buried the hatchet in 2017.

A transphobic joke is never a good look

If you're live on TV, it's never a great idea to joke about gender dysphoria — especially if the person you're ragging on hasn't yet come forward with their struggle. This didn't stop Jamie Foxx, though, who left the nation up in arms after making an off-color joke about Caitlyn Jenner's transition.

Foxx was hosting the 2015 iHeartRadio awards and opted for a roast-like monologue that took aim at Suge Knight for his hit-and-run murder charges. Okay. What came next was a whole lot worse.

"We got some groundbreaking performances here, too, tonight. We got Bruce Jenner, who will be here doing some musical performances. He's doing a his-and-her duet all by himself," he said. "Look, I'm just busting your balls while I still can."

At the time, Caitlyn had yet to make her stunning Vanity Fair debut and the only evidence of her lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria was tabloid rumors and a new hairstyle. At best, Foxx was insensitive. At worst, his gender reassignment joke was blatantly transphobic. Either way, he didn't just receive the unyielding wrath of the Internet. The Kardashian clan also joined in. Both Kanye West and Khloé Kardashian allegedly expressed their extreme disappointment in Foxx's low blow, which he insisted was not transphobic.

If Jimmy Kimmel can apologize for the same thing, why was it so hard for Foxx?

Matt Lauer is apparently just a little glib

You know that feeling of seeing a car accident happen and not being able to do anything to make it stop? That was pretty much how everyone in the nation felt during Tom Cruise's 2005 Today interview. The notorious Scientologist from going on live television to debate the merits of psychiatry, a medically proven science that helps treat millions of people struggling with mental illness around the world.

In the interview, the star famously dubbed psychiatry a "pseudoscience," slammed Brooke Shields for using antidepressants to ease her postpartum depression, called Matt Lauer "glib" (which graced headlines for the next week and a half), and claimed there was no such thing as a chemical imbalance. This was all coming from a guy who believes humans are plagued by the souls of 75-million-year-old aliens. It's so cringeworthy that it makes us long for the times when Cruise simply jumped up on couches.

Years later, Cruise apologized to Shields for calling the fact that she treated her depression with doctor-prescribed medicine "irresponsible." He also apologized to Matt Lauer for the off-the-rails interview. Apparently, the actor "learned a really good lesson" after fielding a barrage of negative comments. 

Samuel L. Jackson is not Laurence Fishburne

Laurence Fishburne is a sci-fi superstar who has been in The Matrix, Passengers, and Event Horizon. Samuel L. Jackson is an action legend who starred in Pulp Fiction and The Hateful Eight. One taught us the difference between red and blue pills, while the other got those motherf*****g snakes off the motherf*****g plane. They are not the same dude, and they look virtually nothing alike.

KTLA news reporter Sam Rubin learned this the hard way when he asked Samuel L. Jackson about his Super Bowl commercial. The only problem was that Samuel L. Jackson never had a Super Bowl commercial — Laurence Fishburne did. Since the entire thing played out on live television, we got to experience the embarrassment secondhand.

"You're as crazy as the people on Twitter. I'm not Laurence Fishburne!" Jackson quipped. "We don't all look alike. We may be all black and famous, but we all don't look alike. You're busted."

The following Monday, Rubin apologized, admitting it was an embarrassing "amateur mistake."

Later that year, Fishburne lamented to The Guardian about how he's been confused with Jackson for the last 25 years. As for the live TV snafu, he didn't take offense but thought it was pretty funny that Jackson called him out.

Who would ever laugh at Jennifer Lawrence?

There are two major components of the Jennifer Lawrence brand: She's always real, and she has a tendency to fall during awards ceremonies. When will the Oscar-winner learn that high heels and evening gowns are a recipe for disaster for clumsy gals? No matter, Lawrence's tumble at the 2014 Oscars wasn't anywhere near as uncomfortable as her off-script call-out later that night.

Lawrence was presenting the award for Best Actor to Matthew McConaughey, who won for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. Inadvertently, it was McConaughey's co-star, Jared Leto, who stole the show when he started laughing off screen (much to Lawrence's dismay). Lawrence took her eyes off the teleprompter and asked, "What, is this funny? Oh, okay." She seemed livid, and she left fans at home pretty confused. We never heard anyone laughing, and it didn't seem likely that Lawrence, the universally charming actress, would be publicly mocked by her peers. Even if she had been, would the type of girl who'd drool over McDonald's from the red carpet even care in the first place? What was her issue?

As it turned out, Leto and his family were laughing, but only because Ellen DeGeneres was pantomiming and mouthing, "Don't fall!" (via Access Hollywood). Leto wasn't too fond of the call-out since he didn't intend to be rude, and he later went on the record to say he thought Lawrence's red carpet fumbles were "a bit of an act."

Rashida Jones' tan is all natural

Things got really uncomfortable for Rashida Jones on the 2015 SAG Awards red carpet, but she handled the situation with her signature brand of sarcastic comedy. Jones, the daughter of record producer Quincy Jones, was attending the ceremony to present an award with fellow comedian Andy Samberg. Before the show, she was called over for an interview by TNT's Danielle Demski. The questions started pretty typically with Jones being asked about her designer gown, but things quickly took a rather unfortunate turn. Demski commented on Jones' tan, which just so happens to be the biracial actress' normal skin color.

"You look like you've just come off an island or something. You're very tan — very tropical," Demski said.

Jones kept her reply short and quippy, saying, "You know, I'm ethnic." Demski laughed off her ill-advised remark, but Jones' uncomfortable smile said it all. It was a cringey moment for all parties involved, including the fans who had to sit through it.

Well ... that was weird!

Emma Stone was the MVP of the 2017 Golden Globes — she tolerated vapid questions about her Valentino dress, took home an award for Best Actress, and got a standing ovation from her ex-boyfriend (vindicated, right?). Just because La La Land raked in seven awards (breaking the record set by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Midnight Express) doesn't mean it was all smooth sailing for the year's biggest star. Stone almost took home the award for most awkward moment — the only thing holding her back was the fact that it's not an official category.

The embarrassing incident came when director Damien Chazelle was announced as the best screenplay winner. Stone jumped up to hug Chazelle, only to be denied as he hugged and kissed his girlfriend Olivia Hamilton. Stone recognized the inherent awkwardness of their spontaneous triple hug, stepped back, and mouthed, "That was weird. I'm sorry." She would have been able the shake the whole thing off had it not been captured on live TV.

There's nothing like a Taylor Swift scorned

For Taylor Swift's ex-boyfriends, having a pop radio hit written about their biggest faults is just the cost of doing business. It happened to Drew, who was the reason for the teardrops on her guitar, and it happened to Harry Styles. It's no secret that the One Direction star inspired quite a few of Swift's biggest hits from both Red and 1989, but, in case you weren't sure, she was going to tell you.

Before the star became notoriously private about her relationships (who even is Joe Alwyn?), she publicly called out Styles on live TV. In 2013, Swift was accepting an MTV Video Music Award for "I Knew You Were Trouble" when she went completely off the rails and announced, "I also want to thank the person who inspired this song, who knows exactly who he is, because now I got one of these." The moment might have been a little less awkward if the One Directioner hadn't been sitting right there with cameras panning to his reaction (those camera operators certainly deserve a Moon Man of their own).

Styles was later asked about the incident on Extra. He claimed to "like a joke as much as the next guy," but you could tell he was visibly uncomfortable with the question.

James Franco, you're tearing us apart!

Tommy Wiseau was supposed to finally have his moment after creating the worst film ever made. The star — if we can call him a star — mysteriously self-funded the multi-million dollar budget for cult masterpiece The Room and simultaneously fulfilled his dreams of becoming an actor and director. His inspiring story proves that you can achieve anything as long as you throw enough money at it, but he still didn't rise to mainstream success until more than a decade later. Years after the infamous billboard that hung over Los Angeles for half a decade was taken down, James Franco took Wiseau's unconventional success story to the big screen — then cut him off at the Golden Globes.

Franco played Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, the film adaptation of the eponymous memoir by Wiseau's best friend, Greg Sestero. The performance won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2018. When Franco invited Wiseau on stage during his acceptance speech, it was supposed to be a moment of vindication (Wiseau was finally getting noticed), but it turned out to be painfully awkward instead. Franco snatched the mic away and laughed at Wiseau. Combine this with Franco's awkward iPhone speech, and the whole charade sparked an online outrage among Wiseau die-hards. For Wiseau, it was just another thing to add to his long list of almosts.

Tara Reid: Shark Expert

Tara Reid's appearance on Discovery Channel's Shark After Dark was more than just a lesson in biology — it was a lesson on why you should never show up to a live taping drunk, even if it's Shark Week. No one can absolutely certify without a doubt that Reid had sipped on a little too much of the sauce, but her performance played out pretty similarly to SNL's "Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party." We can take a guess as to why.

During the show, which is a Shark Week staple for fans, the Sharknado star let viewers know she did a whole lot of research to appear smart on the subject. Girl was not going to have an American Pie-worthy blonde moment here. Unfortunately, her rant about whale sharks was almost entirely unintelligible and got pretty awkward once host Josh Wolf began to egg her on.

"I think, well how does a whale and shark have sex? ... Because whales are mammals, and sharks are animals. They have nothing to do with each other," she said. "So basically, the dolphins have sex with each other, but the sharks don't. So I thought, then how is it such a thing?"

Tara, it's totally okay. We know you're not a biologist. Sharknado isn't based on science either, and, if it was, we'd probably be drinking on live TV too.

Steve Harvey's Miss Universe mix-up

Steve Harvey's Miss Universe mix-up was almost as baffling as La La Land's Oscar flub. Not only was the moment monumentally uncomfortable for viewers watching the pageant live on Fox, but Harvey received so much backlash that he had to hire armed security guards, which he still has in his home today.

Harvey announced Miss Colombia as the winner of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant after producers urged him to immediately read the next name from the teleprompter. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Harvey described the moments following the flub as "four minutes of pure hell." He walked backstage to an army of expletives and realized he had been asked to announce the wrong winner. The card said Miss Philippines. Producers hoped to straighten out the mistake in the press the following morning, but Harvey didn't feel like that was the right thing to do. Instead, he marched back out and announced the real winner on live TV.

"You kind of just face whatever it is, and I went up there and dealt with it," he said.

The resulting footage was one of the most uncomfortable things ever captured on television. Between Miss Philippines' frightened look and Miss Colombia awkwardly standing in her crown pretending it wasn't happening, we'd rather erase this one from our memories. No one wants to watch a beauty queen lose her crown.

David Blaine pulled a Joaquin Phoenix

If there's one thing we can count on, it's that David Blaine is infinitely puzzling. As it turns out, Blaine is equally as baffling when he's not performing tricks. Eamonn Holmes may have been voted best UK breakfast TV presenter, but his talents were no match for the magician's 2001 GMTV interview.

Holmes has cited the live TV interview as his most awkward ever. It was so famously uncomfortable that it may have Joaquin Phoenix's disastrous 2010 Letterman interview completely beat. Performance art is a real thing, guys! Blaine, who was promoting his special Frozen In Time, was essentially mute during the entirety of the segment, though his creepy stare said volumes. What exactly were the volumes it spoke? No one really knew, and Holmes never got that information out of him. The TV host eventually got so fed up that he asked Blaine, "Is this part of the show? The sort of moody persona and the stare and the eyes, that's just you? The eye in the hand, what it that?" Blaine proceeded to flash his hand, which had an eye drawn on the palm. He claimed — in a very muffled, monotone voice — that it was "protection from death." Creepy!