Luke Bryan, Peyton Manning Tease Punchlines, Reveal Spoiler Ahead Of CMAs

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Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning are gearing up for another evening of co-hosting the CMA Awards from Downtown Nashville, Tennessee, and the dynamic duo teased some “surprise moments” coming up during Country Music’s Biggest Night (including accidentally revealing previously-unannounced details).

During a press conference hosted at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday (November 7), Bryan and Manning discussed how they’re preparing for this year’s show, who will be the main targets of their jokes, what it’s like to be nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category, and more. Bryan said he and Manning are more “comfortable” getting ready for the show this year, having a better understanding of their “comedic timing” and knowing “how he rolls,” he said of his co-host. Manning added that he’s “pumped to be back” for another year.

The star-studded 57th annual CMA Awards will include performances by Kelsea BalleriniKenny ChesneyLuke CombsDan + ShayJordan DavisHARDYAlan JacksonCody JohnsonPost MaloneMac McAnallyAshley McBrydeMorgan WallenThe War And Treaty, Zac Brown Band, Jelly RollK. MichelleLittle Big TownMegan MoroneyOld DominionCarly PearceChris StapletonTanya Tucker and Lainey Wilson. Bryan is slated to take the stage with a medley of his career-spanning anthems after reaching 30 No. 1 hits this year.

Bryan said a “really defining moment” in his career happened with the success of “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” from his 2011 album, Tailgates & Tanlines. That studio album also included Bryan’s next smash-hit singles, “I Don’t Want This Night To End” and “Drunk On You.” Bryan said “that little era right there was kind of like the moment all I ever wanted…was to know that I could do this for the rest of my life.

“When I had that moment happen, I was like,’ I think I'm going to do this the rest of my life. I don't have to move back to Georgia and work at my dad's peanut mill,’” Bryan said. “To get to 30 (No. 1 hits), you can't predict that. You can only work to get to little goals and stuff, but to get to 30 is certainly far beyond what I expected of myself…but it is a big deal.”

Photo: Kelly Fisher

Bryan admitted that performing still makes him “more nervous” than hosting, noting that “now I got this guy [Manning] to kind of bail me out.” The pair aim to point many of the highly-anticipated jabs in the script toward themselves.

“I think Luke and I certainly both have thick skin and the more that the joke can be on us, we are for it,” Manning said. “I think both of us believe in self-deprecating humor. And as you can see right here in front of you, don't take ourselves too seriously. But look, this is supposed to be a celebration and not here to make anybody mad or disappoint anybody. …I feel like you and I are getting sort of the majority of the punchlines on us (during the show).”

Some of the genres biggest stars are up for CMAs in major categories, including Entertainer of the Year (Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Morgan Wallen and Lainey Wilson are nominated for that award this year). As a multi-Entertainer of the Year winner, Bryan shared his perspective on what it’s like to be nominated for — and win — that honor. See the full list of nominees here.

“Winning is pretty special…because it's your peers. It's the industry that really votes you in there to win,” Bryan shared. “So, I just remember those days for me were pretty stressful and hectic. …I just always remember being humbled and honored to be in those positions, to have nominations or multiple nominations. …These artists work hard and they get fired up when they get the nominations. And what's cool is their teams do, too. I mean, I remember my bus drivers and my truck drivers just, they're out somewhere in Mount Juliet [located outside of Nashville] flipping burgers and cooking steaks watching their boss win. And it's all about them, too. So, that's something that's fun, too. It trickles to everybody.”

The 57th annual CMA Awards will also present moments that “bring cultures together,” as Bryan described collaborations and bridging country music with other genres. The show will feature a star-studded list of presenters that includes Paula AbdulBill AndersonSara EvansBrian KelleyLady ACraig MorganMartina McBrideHailey WhittersDarius RuckerParker McCollumKeith Urban and Chris Young, among others. See the full list here

Coming from the NFL, Manning said his connection with country music stem from going up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and attending college in Knoxville, Tennessee. He became friends with country superstar Kenny Chesney after they met on the sidelines at a Tennessee game, and first met Jordan Davis when the “Next Thing You Know” artist attended Manning’s high school football camp in 2004. Manning said he hopes to meet fellow Louisiana native and Bell Bottom Country star Wilson during Country Music’s Biggest Night.

The returning hosts have “been a little more chilled out,” while prepping for the 57th annual show, set to air on Wednesday night (November 8). Bryan said that now, “we’re just comfortable. Now I know how he [Manning] rolls. …We know a little bit better about our comedic timing and how that's going to roll.”

Manning echoed that he’s “honored to be back,” and looks forward to witnessing “life-changing” moments for the artists honored throughout the evening, and watching powerful performances. In particular, he said “the Jimmy Buffett tribute (tonight) will be special. I remember the Loretta Lynn tribute last year, that was outstanding and talked to my buddy Kenny, who's a very fitting person to have performed part of the Jimmy Buffett tribute. So, I'm looking forward to seeing that for sure.”

Chesney, McAnally, Jackson and Zac Brown Band will perform the tribute to Buffett, who died in September at age 76.

Bryan unexpectedly revealed previously-unannounced details about a moment during show. He hilariously laughed it off when the Country Music Association confirmed he did, in fact, “spill the beans on that.” Viewers can catch the accidentally-disclosed moment during the CMA Awards on Wednesday evening.

The 57th annual CMA Awards will air live on ABC from Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee, beginning at 8pm ET/7pm CT. Watch the three-hour show live on ABC (available next day on Hulu), or listen on iHeartCountry Radio and on iHeartRadio Country stations nationwide.

Photo: Kelly Fisher