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Emmys 2016 winners in comedy: From first-timers to respected vets

The 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards, handed out Sunday night live on ABC, saved its biggest prizes for repeat winners but had plenty of opportunities to reward first-timers in the first half-hour of the telecast.


In just the first few categories:

  • Louie Anderson won his first Emmy Award, in the supporting actor in a comedy category, for playing a mother in FX’s Baskets. Anderson acknowledged in his acceptance speech how much his own mother influenced his character.
  • Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari won the outstanding writing in a comedy award for their “Parents” episode of Netflix’s Master of None. Yang played up the fact that Asian-Americans onscreen have a long way to go from Long Duk Dong, while Ansari got played out by the orchestra, making up for it later as a presenter, mentioning his own parents in the audience, who played his own parents on the show.
  • Kate McKinnon became the first Saturday Night Live cast member to win in a generation, taking home the outstanding supporting actress trophy.


Take it away, Kate!

Louie Anderson, backstage after winning:

And that’s not even getting into Leslie Jones, who joined the accountants onstage and berated them for protecting a suitcase with Emmy envelopes when they could be protecting her Twitter account from trolls and hackers.

Or host Jimmy Kimmel, full of vim and vigor and biting wit. The audience didn’t know what to make of his Cosby hoax, which, in the end, was thankfully the reaction Kimmel was hoping for — and while we don’t need to see every awards host order up food for the famous celebrities in the front rows, it was nice to see Kimmel’s mom include a few customized handwritten notes to the nominees. Also, you may have seen the Stranger Things kids bicycle into the aisles, but how many of you spotted the white Hawkins van in Kimmel’s intro video?


Key & Peele exited the TV stage with an Emmy win for variety sketch series. John Oliver has now fully inherited the variety talk series title from his former Comedy Central comrades (Stewart and Colbert) with a series win for HBO’s Last Week Tonight to go with his writing team’s win from last weekend’s Creative Arts ceremonies.

The series and lead acting trophies all went to repeat winners: HBO’s Veep and its star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, plus Amazon’s Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor. For Veep, the win was a first opportunity for Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm alum David Mandel to step front and center (the showrunner already is reunited with Larry David to work on a new season of Curb) (btw, what’s with the Emmys telegraphing some of the wins, as David handed off to Veep, and Thomas Hiddleston handed a trophy to his director on The Night Manager?). Louis-Dreyfus teared up as she revealed her father had just died on Friday. Tambor made a point of saying he’d prefer to be the last man to take a role from an actual transgendered woman. When his director, Jill Soloway, won, she implored the audience to “topple the patriarchy,” which resulted in an amusing cut-away to Patton Oswalt and his brother, Matt Oswalt.

To which Kimmel wondered what how the toppling of the patriarchy might impact him. He also got off a good line about Transparent, for those of you wondering why/how it competes in the comedy categories, saying the show “was born a drama, but identifies as a comedy.”

And Patton Oswalt, who won for writing his variety special — in a year in which the category was dominated by stand-up comedians and specials for him, Amy Schumer, John Mulaney, Tig Notaro, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — referenced his late wife, who died the night before his Emmy-winning special, Talking For Clapping, debuted on Netflix. Backstage after winning, Oswalt told the press corps more. “To have that ripped out of my life in that way this year — it seems like the lights have been turned down 50% on everything since she’s gone,” Oswalt said. “It’s going to be a long time before I can be the kind of person that she made me again.”

Mandel, accepting for Veep:

Tambor and Henry Winkler also delivered moving personal tributes to the two great Garrys we lost this year, Garry Shandling and Garry Marshall.

Here are your 2016 Primetime Emmy winners in the major comedy categories

  • Comedy Series: Veep (HBO)
  • Lead Actor, Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
  • Lead Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
  • Supporting Actor, Comedy: Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)
  • Supporting Actress, Comedy: Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Variety Talk Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
  • Variety Sketch Series: Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
  • Writing, Variety Special: Patton Oswalt: Talking For Clapping (Netflix)
  • Directing, Comedy Series: Jill Soloway, Transparent (Amazon)
  • Writing, Comedy Series: Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)

Here’s Kimmel’s intro:

Into the monologue:

And Matt Damon ribbing Kimmel after Oliver beat him for best variety talk 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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