Host Simu Liu cracks up A-listers

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Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Gabby Giffords and director Taika Waititi were a few of the notable names to attend the Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Wednesday night, where Mary J. Blige and Miranda Lambert performed.

Marvel star and honoree Simu Liu — who plays Shang-Chi in “Legend of the Ten Rings” — welcomed guests to what he called “the Met Ball for Nerds,” and also poked fun at himself by saying, “I’m not even one of the 100 most influential people in the Marvel Universe… So why me? I like to think it’s because I’ve shattered racial barriers for Asians all over the world. But let’s be honest, they probably couldn’t get Pete Davidson.”

(Davidson was also on the list of global bigwigs, but was not at the event.)

Liu then went on to playfully roast the room.

Zendaya on the red carpet in a green and black dress.
Zendaya, also a member of the Marvel Universe in “Spider-Man,” was also honored.
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To Amanda Seyfried, he commented that he was halfway through her Hulu hit “The Drop Out,” saying “I feel like things are really looking up for Elizabeth Holmes. I can’t wait to see how things go for her.” (Theranos scammer Holmes was convicted of fraud).

Liu also took aim at Elon Musk, who did not attend, noting that the room was full of people who “could crash the stock market with a single Tweet,” adding, “Elon if you are watching at home, you’re not the only one who could do that. You’re just the only one who actually wants to.”

In a somewhat awkward bit, Liu, known for loving Boba tea, had tech mogul Gates try some, saying “I just honestly don’t know what billionaires drink. I’m assuming some sort of liquid NFT or Web 3 beverage,” reminding Gates of the Tapioca drink, “Don’t forget to chew.”

Simu Liu cheerings Bill Gates with Boba tea
Boba tea lover Simu Liu got billionaire Bill Gates to try a taste.
Getty Images for TIME

“West Side Story” star Ariana DeBose, singer Jazmine Sullivan, Ukrainian journalist Sevgil Musayeva, and Questlove gave speeches. “Abbot Elementary” star Quinta Brunson toasted teachers by saying, “May you one day make more money than me.”  

A moving speech by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was played via video.

Miranda Lambert, in a sparkly get up, performed for the glittery crowd. “That was terrifying,” she was heard saying after she got off stage. And to cap things off, Mary J. Blige got the whole room on their feet with her song “Family Affair.”

Mary J Blige in a blue dress and heels on the red carpet
Mary J. Blige wowed the crowd with a set that had people dancing in their gowns.
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To the delight of the attendees, she had to replay a portion of her set due to technical difficulties with the cameras filming for the TV special, re-singing a song and then exiting the stage.

As the cameras panned, they missed catching her tottering down the stairs in heels and a dress, looking around to ask anyone nearby “Is anyone going to help me?”

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