Assessing the Emmy nominees in comedies for 2012

Emmy nominations came out, per usual, in the wee hours of the morning so the big three broadcast TV morning shows could cover it live — followed by frantic press releases and phone calls to and from the happy honorees, their publicists, and the rest of the mainstream media. Did the Academy of Television Arts & Science really paid attention to TV in the past 12 months, in terms of comedy?

It certainly heard all of the buzz about Lena Dunham’s Girls, giving her HBO rookie show four nods (Outstanding Comedy Series, as well as individual acting, writing and directing), while it gave the seemingly untouchable Louis C.K. the most recognition of any individual this year, putting him in the running in seven categories — three for his FX series, Louie (lead actor, writing and directing), plus four more for his early 2012 stand-up special, which debuted as an online-only purchased by aired this spring on FX: Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre (Outstanding Special Class Program, plus directing, writing and editing for variety specials). The Academy’s love of Betty White in her senior years continues, as she earned two nods for her late-season hidden-camera show for NBC, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers. That’s as many nominations as Amy Poehler earned this year — hers for leading actress and for writing on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

Somehow, though, both Louie and Parks and Rec got snubbed in the overall comedy series category. As did any late-night host from before Y2K not named Bill Maher — no Leno, no Letterman, nor even a Conan. The variety series in the running this year included returning combatants from Comedy Central (The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), along with Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Saturday Night Live. “Well, that could have been very uncomfortable,” said Kimmel, a last-minute replacement to make the announcements after massive thunderstorms kept Nick Offerman from making his flight to L.A. from New York City. “That’s exciting.”

Oh, right. Offerman overlooked again, too! Insert your frowny faces here at how Hollywood looks down on true 21st Century masculinity. Perhaps the Emmys were trying to keep the 90s alive in Portland, as IFC’s Portlandia is in the running in both the writing and directing categories. “We are honored the show has been recognized with these Emmy nominations,” said Portlandia co-creator, writer and director Jonathan Krisel. “It is a privilege to be part of the conversation. We’d also like to extend our thanks to the city of Portland, which has embraced and championed the show in a way that I think none of us could have imagined.”

Fans of NBC’s Community have had much tougher luck, especially with the departure of mad genius showrunner Dan Harmon. The show did receive one nomination, however, in the writing category for the diabolical “Remedial Chaos Theory.” So maybe it all makes sense, after all.

The big overall comedy winners, meanwhile, were SNL — it now has 156 in its history (most for any series ever), which with 14 this year tied Modern Family for the biggest potential haul. Even though both of these shows compete with themselves in some categories.

Let’s take a look at the comedy nominees for Emmy in 2012:

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Amy Poehler (Parks and Rec)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Louis C.K. (Louie), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
  • Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
  • Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
  • Kristen Wiig, SNL

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
  • Max Greenfield, New Girl
  • Bill Hader, SNL

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Dot-Marie Jones, Glee
  • Maya Rudolph, SNL host
  • Melissa McCarthy, SNL host
  • Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock
  • Margaret Cho, 30 Rock
  • Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men

Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Michael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Greg Kinnear, Modern Family
  • Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie
  • Jimmy Fallon, SNL host
  • Will Arnett, 30 Rock
  • Jon Hamm, 30 Rock

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm • Palestinian Chicken • Robert B. Weide
  • Girls • She Did • Lena Dunham
  • Louie • Duckling • Louis C.K.
  • Modern Family • Virgin Territory • Jason Winer
  • Modern Family • Baby On Board • Steven Levitan
  • New Girl • Pilot • Jake Kasdan

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

  • Community • Remedial Chaos Theory • Chris McKenna
  • Girls • Pilot • Lena Dunham
  • Louie • Pregnant • Louis C.K.
  • Parks And Recreation • The Debate • Amy Poehler
  • Parks And Recreation • Win, Lose, Or Draw • Michael Schur

Outstanding Variety Special

Included: Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute To America’s Golden Girl; Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker; and Mel Brooks And Dick Cavett Together Again

Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs

A varied group that includes Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital, the online “The Daily Show Correspondents Explain” section, April and Andy’s Road Trip on, 30 Rock’s The Webisodes, and Web Therapy for

Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series

  • The Colbert Report • Episode 7121A • Comedy Central • James Hoskinson
  • The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Episode 17087 • Comedy Central • Chuck O’Neil
  • Late Show With David Letterman • Episode 3602 • CBS • Jerry Foley
  • Portlandia • One Moore Episode • IFC • Jonathan Krisel
  • Saturday Night Live • Host: Mick Jagger • NBC • Don Roy King

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series

  • The Colbert Report • Comedy Central Barry Julien, Head Writer Stephen Colbert, Writer Tom Purcell, Writer Richard Dahm, Writer Michael Brumm, Writer Rob Dubbin, Writer Opus Moreschi, Writer Peter Gwinn, Writer Jay Katsir, Writer Frank Lesser, Writer Glenn Eichler, Writer Meredith Scardino, Writer Max Werner, Writer Eric Drysdale, Writer Scott Sherman, Writer Dan Guterman, Writer Paul Dinello, Writer
  • The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central Tim Carvell, Head Writer Rory Albanese, Writer Kevin Bleyer, Writer Rich Blomquist, Writer Steve Bodow, Writer Wyatt Cenac, Writer Hallie Haglund, Writer JR Havlan, Writer Elliott Kalan, Writer Dan McCoy, Writer Jo Miller, Writer John Oliver, Writer Zhubin Parang, Writer Daniel Radosh, Writer Jason Ross, Writer Jon Stewart, Writer
  • Portlandia • IFC Fred Armisen, Writer Carrie Brownstein, Writer Jonathan Krisel, Writer Karey Dornetto, Writer
  • Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO Adam Felber, Writer Matt Gunn, Writer Brian Jacobsmeyer, Writer Jay Jaroch, Writer Chris Kelly, Writer Mike Larsen, Writer Bill Maher, Writer Billy Martin, Writer Scott Carter, Writer
  • Saturday Night Live • NBC James Anderson, Writer Alex Baze, Writer Jessica Conrad, Writer James Downey, Writer Shelly Gossman, Writer Steve Higgins, Writer Zach Kanin, Writer Chris Kelly, Writer Colin Jost, Writer Erik Kenward, Writer Rob Klein, Writer Seth Meyers, Writer Lorne Michaels, Writer John Mulaney, Writer Christine Nangle, Writer Michael Patrick O’Brien, Writer Paula Pell, Writer Marika Sawyer, Writer Sarah Schneider, Writer Pete Schultz, Writer John Solomon, Writer Kent Sublette, Writer Bryan Tucker, Writer Emily Spivey, Additional Sketch By

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special

  • 84th Annual Academy Awards • ABC Jon Macks, Written by Dave Boone, Written by Carol Leifer, Written by Tim Carvell, Special Material Written by Jeff Cesario, Special Material Written by Billy Crystal, Special Material Written by Ed Driscoll, Special Material Written by Billy Martin, Special Material Written by Ben Schwartz, Special Material Written by Marc Shaiman, Special Material Written by Eric Stangel, Special Material Written by Justin Stangel, Special Material Written by David Steinberg, Special Material Written by Mason Steinberg, Special Material Written by Colleen Werthmann, Special Material Written by
  • Louis C.K. Live At The Beacon Theatre • FX Networks
  • 65th Annual Tony Awards • CBS Dave Boone, Written by Paul Greenberg, Special Material by

Outstanding Animated Program

  • American Dad!
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Futurama
  • The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole
  • The Simpsons

Outstanding Voice-Over Performance

  • Desperate Housewives, Brenda Strong as Mary-Alice Young
  • Disney Phineas And Ferb: Across The 2nd Dimension, Dan Povenmire as Doctor Doofenshmirtz
  • Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice, Rob Riggle as Noel
  • Futurama, Maurice LaMarche as Clamps, Donbot, Hyperchicken, Calculon, Hedonismbot, Morbo
  • The Looney Tunes Show, Kristen Wiig as Lola
  • The Simpsons, Hank Azaria as Moe Szyslak, Duffman, Mexican Duffman, Carl, Comic Book Guy, Chief Wiggum

Outstanding Nonfiction Special made room for Comedy Central’s 6 Days To Air: The Making Of South Park

Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Nonfiction Programs includes nods for Jay Leno’s Garage as well as 30 Rock: Ask Tina.

In other Nonfiction Programming, nods for this year’s PBS docs of Woody Allen and Johnny Carson in various categories.

I’m leaving most of the rest of the technical creative arts categories out of this overview for now, unless they can prove that that’s what made their shows funny.

But one of the Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media – Enhancement To A Television Program Or Series is The Team Coco Sync App for TBS, produced by John Wooden, Aaron Bleyaert, Timothy Campbell and Conan O’Brien. Not shut out! Team Coco will go to the Emmys!

Original Music and Lyrics…Seth Meyers and John Mulaney are credited as lyricists for Jason Segel’s monologue song, “I Can’t Believe I’m Hosting,” when he hosted SNL…And David Javerbaum wrote the lyrics to the nominated song, “It’s Not Just For Gays Anymore,” performed during the 65th Annual Tony Awards.

The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

How do you think the Emmys did? Did they get it pretty much right? Who’d you swap out to honor your favorite snubbed actor, actress or series?

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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2 thoughts on “Assessing the Emmy nominees in comedies for 2012

  1. Where can I buy “The Veterinarian Told Me I Had To Put The Cat Down”? It’s the funniest card I ever bought and I don’t want to give up my only one! Thanks.

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