The Last Laugh

It’s EMMY Eve!

And EMMYs are serious business, especially when it comes to comedy. Eight shows are nominated along with seven supporting actors, eight supporting actresses, along with six each in the Lead Actor and Actress categories. With the ceremony going down tomorrow night, we thought we’d pour a cocktail and have a laugh while breaking down the comedy categories.

Supporting Actor

Up first: Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. The nominees are Louie Anderson (“Baskets”), Alec Baldwin (“Saturday Night Live”), Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”), Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), Henry Winkler (“Barry”).

Honestly, there should be another category for the Saturday Night Live nominees. Alec and Kenan are both great, but we’re not sure why they’re here when SNL itself is relegated to the Variety category. We suppose there’s no other place for them to go. Baldwin’s portrayal as the current POTUS has already won him EMMY gold and he could totally repeat and it wouldn’t make us drop our drink.

Louis Anderson’s been brilliant in Baskets, and ditto for Titus Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Mrs. Maisel has been the en vogue, buzzy breakout darling this year, and Tony Shalhoub could pair that with his great performance and general popularity among voters and make his way on stage.

But our pick is Henry Winkler in Barry. This show doesn’t get enough buzz, and same goes for Winkler’s performance as a beleaguered acting teacher to a hitman with a heart trying to change his life.

Supporting Actress

For Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, the nominees are Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”), Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”), Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”), Leslie Jones (“Saturday Night Live”), Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”), and Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”).

If any of the SNL stars are going to take home the statue, it’ll once again be Kate, whose versatility has no limits. And her portrayal of Jeff Sessions is cruelly unforgettable. And given the current political winds, there’s a likelihood there won’t be many more opportunities to play him.

We loved Zazie in Deadpool 2 and she totally deserved a People’s Choice nomination. But an EMMY? The competition’s just too stiff, even though she comes from critical darling Atlanta.

The return of Will & Grace was much heralded but once it arrived it was just, you know, there. Not bad, but not great. And that’s not great for Mullally’s chances

Again, Mrs. Maisel’s momentum could help Alex Borstein ride the wave to a (deserved) win.

But we’re going with Laurie Metcalf in the Roseanne reboot. She’s coming off an Oscar nomination so she’s got serious cred. Plus, this is the only nomination for the show in any of the major categories, so she’s kinda standing in for the entire non-racist cast and crew. It’s a way for the academy to award Roseanne the show without rewarding Roseanne the tweeter.

Lead Actor

For Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, the nominees are Donald Glover (“Atlanta”), Bill Hader (“Barry”), Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), William H. Macy (“Shameless”), Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and Ted Danson (“The Good Place”).

Macy’s been here A LOT before for his comedic but heartbreaking role in Shameless. But the show isn’t standout anymore, and that means he’s not standing out anymore. The same with Curb. Once again the most cringe-worthy show on TV, Larry and company aren’t making the cultural impact like in the old days. The Good Place is in a good place by getting more exposure and buzz on Netflix, and that’s good for Ted Danson. Plus people just like him.

Anthony Anderson is steady. This is not a year for steady.

We think it’s gonna come down to Donald Glover and Bill Hader. We’d like to see Bill, because Barry is so good and unlike anything we’ve seen. But Donald is having a career year. Atlanta is a critical darling, his band, Childish Gambino has grabbed headlines. He’s riding a wave, a wave that will crest on the EMMY stage.

Lead Actress

For Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, we have Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”), Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”), and Issa Rae (“Insecure”).

Allison and Lily are industry standards. They’ve been here before, they continue to astound and amaze by bringing strong yet vulnerable characters to life. But this year a fresh blast from the past is going to pick up their mantle.

Rachel Brosnahan will add an EMMY to her Golden Globe win from January. Her performance puts fresh relevance on feminism by projecting it through a prism of the fifties.

And the Winner Is…

And finally, the nominees for Comedy Series are “Atlanta” (FX), “Barry” (HBO), “Black-ish” (ABC), “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO), “GLOW” (Netflix), “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon), “Silicon Valley” (HBO), and “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix).

Silicon isn’t what it was, and in this crowd, it needs to be all that and more to win. Black-ish is carrying the banner for network TV, but won’t carry an EMMY. As we said, Curb isn’t what it used to be and Unbreakable is far from untouchable.

We think it comes down to Mrs. Maisel, Atlanta, and Barry. Maisel has its best chances in the acting categories. But if it sweeps there, look for it to cap off its night with a win. Like in the Actor Category, we think it shouldbe Barry, but will be Atlanta.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

A Kir Royale. It’s light, tasty, and won’t bring any drama. If you want drama, check back tomorrow!

Cheers!

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