The 2020 CMA Awards started like any other country music awards show, with music and a mix of good and groan-worthy jokes. Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker took center stage — literally — to start the show, and the pair were happy to hear live applause and see actual people.

"Zooms are fine, who doesn't like wearing sweatpants to work," McEntire said early on, joking that her sweatpants were actually stuck to her legs permanently.

With such a small audience, if a joke didn't land, it was obvious. The pair batted about .500 with their punchlines, doing well with slightly off-color humor and not so well with COVID-19 related jokes. Perhaps everyone was still figuring out how to act, or maybe there was a tension in the air after four positive COVID-19 tests from potential CMA performers, but there wasn't as hardy of a laugh when McEntire sang "Hold My Hand" (a hit for Rucker's Hootie and the Blowfish) and then said, "If that didn't break protocols."

McEntire's boyfriend Rex Linn was in the audience, and she took a moment to fawn over him before warning, "Always stay six feet away from Carrie Underwood ... That's not social distancing, those are Reba rules."

Underwood was a surprise attendee at the 2020 CMAs, as she is not performing and remained very quiet about the show in the lead-up. She smiled politely at the joke.

A good pot joke drew laughter, but the best line was reserved for a singer who has found himself in a little trouble recently:

"For your safety," Rucker started, "I've had Morgan Wallen quarantined in my dressing room for two weeks now ... so he might make this show."

Wallen laughed out loud at the joke, taking his recent hell-raising and the fallout from in in step with humility. The 2020 CMA Awards monologue was more in line with others McEntire has done at this awards show and more in years past, but shorter and much safer than what fans came to expect from Underwood and Brad Paisley for more than a decade.

See the Best of the 2020 CMA Awards Red Carpet

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