Preview: 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (Comedy)

The 60th Primetime Emmy Awards get handed out on Sunday evening (broadcast on the ABC television network), and in the comedy categories, he academy tends to be, well, stubborn? The funniest people sometimes have to wait years for official Emmy recognition, but once they do, they get rewarded over and over and over again. Which makes making any predictions problematic. Instead, let’s take a look at the comedy categories up for grabs on Sunday and see who should win, shall we? Actually, let’s just look at the non-technical categories (sorry, directors)

Outstanding Comedy Series: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, The Office, Two and a Half Men. Why is Entourage on this list? Two and a Half Men might well be the most popular TV comedy in the ratings, but that does not make it outstanding in any respect. The Office has slipped a bit. Does anyone talk about Curb anymore? Which leaves 30 Rock as the critical fave.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock); Tony Shaloub (Monk); Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies); Steve Carell (The Office); Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men). Shaloub is one of those repeat Emmy winners we’re getting used to, but everyone who’s not talking about how crazy Baldwin is offstage mentions how funny he is on TV. I shan’t disagree here.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: I mention this category because Ricky Gervais (Extras) is the only comedian in the group. They may give it to Paul Giamatti for John Adams, though I don’t know anyone who actually managed to watch the entire HBO miniseries. Oh, we all started watching it. We just got bored before learning what happened? Did he make it out of France?

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Tina Fey (30 Rock); Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?); Julia Louis-Dreyfus (New Adventures of Old Christine); America Ferrera (Ugly Betty); Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds). Yes, I’ll admit that, I, too, have a crush on Fey. She has really shined since leaving SNL. Applegate may get more than a few sympathy votes, as well as deserved votes. And you cannot overlook Louis-Dreyfus, even though writing this sentence means I’m overlooking Ferrera and Parker. Sorry.

The Extras Christmas Special is also the only comedy in the Outstanding Made for Television Movie category, which means it’ll likely get overshadowed by the big fancy dramas.

Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program:
Jon Stewart (Academy Awards); David Letterman; Don Rickles (Mr.
Warmth); Tina Fey (SNL); Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report). If
memory serves correctly, last year, this was when Barry Manilow beat
out Colbert and Stewart and they had fun mocking that result. I doubt
they’ll pass over Colbert this year. Though they could just as easily
give Rickles an Emmy (even if he’s in a documentary film that happened
to be on HBO, which HBO always reminded me wasn’t TV).

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven
(Entourage); Kevin Dillon (Entourage); Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met
Your Mother); Rainn Wilson (The Office); Jon Cryer (Two and a Half
Men). Piven is compelling and wins lots of awards. Please don’t
encourage Johnny Drama. Wilson is great, but was he as great this past
season? Cryer? Nope. You’d have to think that everyone knows NPH has
been the actor making you want to watch How I Met Your Mother, and
isn’t that reason alone to reward him?

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kristin
Chenowith (Pushing Daisies); Jean Smart (Samantha Who?); Amy Poehler
(SNL); Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men); Vanessa Williams (Ugly
Betty). Some newcomers to the category here. Wow! Amy Poehler gets a
nod from SNL? Need to look in my files for the last time someone from
SNL got an Emmy nomination. She’s leaving the show, and this would be a
grand farewell prize. But look for Williams and her scenery-chewing
role to be the mainstream pick of many voters.

Ashley Jensen from The Extras Christmas finale also is the only
comedian in the supporting actress, miniseries or movie category.
Another one of those, thanks for the nomination but good luck nods.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Late Show
with David Letterman, Real Time with Bill Maher, Saturday Night Live,
The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Hmmm. You’d think
this summer’s political convention coverage alone would get voters
thinking about The Daily Show, even if those reports may not fall into
the appropriate eligibility period. Unless ending the strike early
earns Letterman’s crew some solidarity from the voters. Which I’d be OK
with, too.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special: Bill Maher: The
Decider, George Carlin: It’s Bad For Ya, James Taylor: One Man Band,
Kathy Griffin: Straight to Hell, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,
The Kennedy Center Honors. Well, lookie here. They already done gone
and put an Emmy statue next to Rickles. Not surprising at all.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (episode): 30 Rock
("Rosemary’s Baby"); 30 Rock ("Cooter"); Flight of the Conchords
("Yoko"); Pushing Daisies ("Pie-lette"); The Office ("Dinner Party").
If you need reminding, "Rosemary’s Baby" is the episode in which
Baldwin re-enacts all of Tracy Morgan’s family, Carrie Fisher haunts
Fey, and there’s a page-off. It’s your likely winner.

Again, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant get Emmy consideration for
their writing, but by writing an extra long version of Extras, they’re
stuck competing with serious dramas. This one is their best chance at a
win, though they’re up against the skillful Recount.

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special:
Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday
Night Live, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. AKA
the only category that’s funny just watching the nominations getting
read, as each of these shows has engaged in a competition within the
competition by producing reels for their writers. It’s the funniest
part of the Emmys. And everyone’s a winner.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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