UPDATED with video: Tony Awards host Kevin Spacey paid tribute to this year’s nominees during an extended self-effacing song-and-dance joke about the many people who had passed on the gig before it was offered to him. Spacey was not CBS or producers’ first choice to host – or second, or third, as press noted while the process slogged on.

Unlike other recent trophy show hosts – and defying expectations for the actor who plays Francis Underwood on House of Cards, Spacey kept his opening politics-free,  instead mocking his status as 15th choice, Groundhog Day-style.

Reliving being passed over for the gig, day after day, after day, Spacey got assists from Whoopi Golberg, Billy Crystal and Late Show host Stephen Colbert who advised, lyrically

Just read the prompter

Even Steve Harvey would be okay.

Spacey hinted at Sunday’s opening in his statement when it was announced – finally – Spacey would host the awards ceremony for the first time:

“I was their second choice for Usual Suspects, fourth choice for American Beauty and 15th choice to host this year’s Tony Awards,” Spacey has said, joking about the reported search for a host, as the ceremony date drew close. “I think my career is definitely going in the right direction. Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”