Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus Joke Around at CMT Music Awards

Backstage, Hannah Montana Star Gives Dad a Hard Time

Miley Cyrus got in a few good jabs at her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, when they co-hosted the CMT Music Awards in Nashville on Monday night (April 14). At one point, after Billy Ray complained to the audience that he was the one stuck paying for all her text messages, Miley shot back, “Yeah, right. I’m paying your phone bill.”

Ouch! But hey, Billy Ray Cyrus wants you to know it’s just an act — and he loves it when the joke’s on him.

Billy Ray said he recognized Miley’s sense of humor early on.

“She’s always been really quick, and I’ve always found it insanely funny,” he said in the pressroom following the awards show. “I am the butt of her jokes, and it’s always been a funny thing. We used a couple of things tonight that I thought went really well.”

“We got a couple of ’oooh’s,’ in the whole place, after a couple of those zingers,” Miley said.

“I wrote those zingers, to be honest with you,” Billy Ray Cyrus said. In addition to hosting the awards show, they also performed a duet, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go.”

One reporter asked Billy Ray Cyrus about how he keeps the spark alive with his wife, Tish, while balancing his own career and keeping tabs on Miley. His answer was fairly straightforward (“step by step,” “play it by ear,” etc.), but Miley kept making grossed-out faces — the way all teenagers would when they envision their parents in a romantic mood.

Asked about their duet in the upcoming Hannah Montana movie, which is being shot in Tennessee, Billy Ray started rambling about the song and the rehearsals, until Miley clutched his arm and suddenly spoke up.

“So, yes,” she interjected. “We’re singing together again in the movie. Dad forgets sometimes, and he just keeps going.”

Miley also told reporters that she enjoyed performing at the awards show for an audience beyond her Hannah Montana following.

“It was very fun tonight, especially because the demographic is so huge for this show,” she said. “I mean, there are girls who are 8 years old, and then up to 30 years old, and they’re all really excited. It’s fun to see that little girls are looking up to me and saying, ’When I grow up, that’s what I want to be like.’ That’s so cool for me.”

Miley Cyrus was born in 1992, the same year her father’s debut single, “Achy Breaky Heart,” propelled him to instant stardom — and 9 million albums sold. After many years of being the butt of other people’s jokes, his recording career is now thriving, and his public profile has become heightened through sharing the screen with Miley in the TV series, Hannah Montana, a cultural juggernaut in its own right.

When Billy Ray was asked about guiding Miley through her teenage years, he replied, “[I’m] giving her room to be a kid and be a young lady and watch her grow and find her own path and do things her own way. I’ve always tried to be her best friend, and that’s what I continue to do now. She needs her space to do her thing, and I’m always there — a phone call away or a text. She always knows that if she needs me, I’m there.”

View photos of Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus at the 2008 CMT Music Awards.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.