My Hopes and Predictions For This Year’s Emmy Nominations
Week 2, Part 4: Outstanding Supporting Actor in A Comedy
There’s a very strong possibility that Saturday Night Live will dominate this category. I don’t object that much. There’s just as strong a possibility that Ted Lasso will. I can only hope. There are a lot of great supporting performances that don’t all come from the world of sketch comedy. I’m pretty sure I’m going to leave out some of them, but for now here are my choices.
William Fichtner, Mom
William Fichtner has been playing intense characters for so long he probably would’ve been one of the last actors I ever thought would be capable of doing comedy, much less being able to hold the stage with Alison Janney’s Bonnie on Mom. But almost from his first appearance on the series nearly five years ago, Adam has not only been capable of deriving jokes from the most unlikely of sources — hell, his character’s in a wheelchair and he can still keep up with them — he made you root for him and Bonnie to work out despite all of the obstacles. Not only did they, he did a lot of heavy lifting throughout the second season. Fichtner would be worth of a nomination even before you consider he has somehow gone his entire career and not gotten one. Can we give him one before the lights go out?
Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso
I could just as easily make an argument here for Phil Dunster’s remarkable performance as Jamie, the egotistical superstar, or Jeremy Swift, the incredibly burdened down Higgins, loyal to Rebecca but utterly delightful when he says anything. (And hell, they might get nominated without me having to endorse them.) But there’s a greater argument to be made for Goldstein’s endearing work as Roy, the aging hero who knows his time is running out but who Ted still places all his faith in. There’s a lot to love — his sweet romance with Keeley, his messy relationship with Jamie, the one he clearly loves his niece — and most of all, that last episode where he throws everything into the final and ends up walking off the pitch to the cheers of the crowd. I don’t know how Roy will play into Season 2, but Goldstein makes us root for him all the way. He’s really earned it — just like Roy.
Michael Huisman, The Flight Attendant
This is how great an actor Michael Huisman is — he’s doing some of his best work as a corpse. (Alright, he’s technically a part of Cassie’s subconscious as she works out what happened the night he was murdered; potato, po-tat-o) Huisman is yet another actor in this category who seems to have been acting for ever (he’d worked in European television for more than a decade before he came to my attention on Treme) and for the first time it what seems to be in his career, he gets to appear in a show and have fun. (Yes as a corpse.) My guess is we won’t see him in Season 2, so let’s give him his due for playing the part that essentially puts everything into action. For once, this is a Game of Thrones actor I won’t mind seeing at the Emmys.
Brendan Hunt, Ted Lasso
There are so many great supporting roles on Ted Lasso (as indeed there are on any Bill Lawrence comedy) that you could easily fill both categories with any number of them. I have a couple of good choices, but one of my personal favorites is Hunt in his wonderful role as Coach Beard. For most of the series he is so laconic that he gets the lion’s share of his laughs by the few words he uses. But like every other character he has so many layers that you realize that, like Ted, there’s more than meets the eye. When he finally launches into a loud rant against Ted’s strategy in the penultimate episode of Season 1, you realize that he may understand sports even more than Ted does. It’s a delivery worthy of a nomination of itself. Of course, the reason I would like to see him nominated is to see that seen of his rendition of ‘Poker Face’. Keep it up, Coach!
Alex Newell, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Just like with Ted Lasso, there are a lot of good choices from Zoey for this category — I could make a great argument for Skyler Astin as Max, the man who should have Zoey’s heart or for John Clarence Stewart as Simon, the man who temporarily gets it. And given how Newell identifies, some might argue what he’s doing in this category at all. But it impossible to watch any seen that Mo is in and not be in awe. As the first person who knew Zoey’s secret (and the only one who doesn’t need an excuse to start singing) there is just something astonishing in progress every time Newell walks on camera. Her delivery, her humor, and her utter boldness in everything they do makes you in awe of Mo. I don’t know if the Emmys will duplicate the Critics Choice, but in Newell’s case, they absolutely deserve too.
Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method
Throughout this comedian’s long and storied career, a lot of his work has been somewhat ‘traditional’, rarely venturing from the standards of the sitcom. So in that sense, it’s remarkable watching him do some of his best work as Martin, the much older lover of Sandy’s daughter in The Kominsky Method. Its amazing watching him banter with Michael Douglas and come of the better in so many of their interactions. You can understand why Mindy is so disturbed that her father (and this season, her mother) get along too perfectly with the man she’s loves. And yet Reiser’s basic likability makes him seem like both a genuine lover to her and a companion to her father, which frankly is incredible enough. Match that with his still shard delivery and you have a recipe deserving of an Emmy nomination.
Keenan Thompson, SNL
I don’t normally advocate for an actor or actress being nominated in two separate categories in the same year. I do, however, make exceptions and it’s really hard not to make one for Keenan Thompson. He’s been on Saturday Night Live since before a lot of its current viewers were born, and he was working in sketch comedy well before that. He doesn’t have a lot of recurring characters and he isn’t at the center of a lot of sketches. All he does is make you laugh whenever he’s on the screen. Very few comedians are this consistently entertaining for a few years, much less twenty. I’m not saying I necessarily want him to win the Emmy, but unlike so many years where I couldn’t understand why SNL comedians were even on the ballot, I wouldn’t mind seeing him up there.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Michael Che/Colin Jost, Saturday Night Live.
Yes they’re also on SNL. And yes, all they basically do is the news. But as someone who has been watching the show for more than a quarter of a century, who has seen Fey and Poehler do their thing, that’s not just what they do. Furthermore, we gave Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert lots of Emmy for doing variations on this. And these guys are more than that. The two of them are comedic soulmates in a way that very few performers are, and like my favorite reporter in the show’s history — Colin Quinn — you get a feeling they’re more like the man on the street than so many of the other comedians. They’ve been working like a well-oiled machine for seven year. Lord knows how much longer either one we’ll be there. Let’s give them a nomination before they give each other jokes for the last time.