My Predictions (And Hopes) For the 2024 Emmy Nominations, Comedy

David B Morris
8 min readJun 19, 2024

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Part 2: OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY

To quote Dan Aykroyd when he played Bob Dole on Saturday Night Live we know who’ll win in this category: “I know it, you know it and the American people know it.” (I made this reference deliberately as you’ll see.) But that does mean there are going to be other nominees in this category.

I’m willing to go along with the two overwhelming favorites as nominees. But when it comes to Larry David, even though I know he’ll be here, I can’t raise enough enthusiasm for him. So I’m going to go with a couple of alternatives I’d really like to see and as to another one of the choices, he’s a dark horse but far from impossible. So here goes.

Martin Freeman, Breeders

Freeman has never quite gotten enough requisite love from the Emmys to this talent. Yes he got recognized for Sherlock but it came at the cost of losing for Fargo there was nothing for his work in the original Office or the BBC work before that and he’s been part of one of the best comedies on TV for four seasons and got zilch to show for it. His work as Paul, the angry father trying to so hard to show his love for his family and always frustrating by everything, such as life, has been one of the most realistic father figures we’ve gotten in recent years and he has nothing to show for it either as a performer or a producer. He isn’t going to stop working — he’s currently the lead in The Responder which has already won him an international Emmy but nothing from the real ones. The least the Emmys can do is nominate him.

Kelsey Grammer, Frasier

I don’t normally advocate for nominees in reboots — or in the case of Paramount plus, a continuation — but I will always make an exception for Frasier. I’ve made no secret that it was my favorite series of the 1990s, and a far more worthy recipient of Emmys than Seinfeld was and an infinitely more enjoyable show. They might have gone slightly overboard when it came to recognizing Grammer — I don’t think he deserved the last Emmy he got — but Frasier Crane is one of the great characters in comedy history and Grammer’s performance one of the most iconic. There were those who had doubts as the series was rebooted this year but over the course of it, it gradually began to win fans and critics back over. He is currently rising very quickly in the possibility for a nomination in this category — at the moment he ranks seventh in Gold Derby. And on a personal note, if it came down to a choice between him and Larry David, well, I’d prefer the Emmys recognize tossed salad and scrambled eggs.

Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building

Few performers have had a longer career and gotten so little recognition it from awards show then Steve Martin. He never got a single Oscar nomination for any of the brilliant comic performances he gave in his life. Ditto the Golden Globes. As a writer he’s done better winning a couple of WGA awards and actually winning an Emmy for his work on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and somehow he’s managed to win five Grammy, both for comedy and bluegrass music. But while he has received nominations for hosting and writing the Oscars and for his work with a Martin Short variety special, he has received no other love for the Emmys as a performer. The insult came last year when Martin Short got nominated in this category but he didn’t. As Steve Martin has said: “Welcome to my world.”

Well he’s definitely going to get a nomination for his work as Charles Haden-Savage this year as well as another for co-producing this show. It is unlikely he will win — White did just as well against a similar field — but hopefully there is next year.

Martin Short, Only Murders in The Building

Martin Short’s track record with the Emmys is not quite as bad as his co-star but its not much of an improvement. He did receive an Emmy for his work writing SCTV (though considering all the nominees that year were SCTV it’s hard to see how he could have lost and for Outstanding Variety Special for his tribute to Mel Brooks. But he’s had less luck on a personal level and he’s had more opportunities that showed a wider range. He lost for his work in Merlin, for playing Jiminy Glick and for showing his dramatic range in Damages and The Morning Show. He’s had better luck then his co stars in other awards; he famously won a Best Actor in a Streaming Comedy over Jason Sudeikis in 2022 and he’s the only one of the three leads to be nominated in each of the first two seasons. (Yes I know about Selena Gomez; I’ll get to that in the actresses.)

Now as the producer of the play where the most recent murder victim has passed, Oliver gets to inhabit the world of hysteria and comedy that he does better than practically any other living comic. He continues to shock and awe five decades into his work and another nomination is in the offing.

Jeremy Allan White, The Bear

White has already made a cycle of the Best Actor in a comedy awards, just as he did in the lead up to last year’s Emmys. The Golden Globe, SAG Award and Critics Choice Awards are already his and everyone knows he’s going to make it two in a row this year. This is a habit of the Emmys; before they gave two straight ones to Jason Sudeikis for the title role in Ted Lasso and then they gave Bill Hader two consecutive ones for his work in Barry. And just as with those two legends and their iconic performances, you can’t watch the second season of The Bear and not understand why its an inevitability.

Carmy is just as troubled, messed-up and emotionally wrecked in Season 2 as he was in Season 1. He continues to march towards the next impossible goal, ignoring all the obstacles as something he alone can deal with and taking no joy or pleasure in his successes. We’ve known for awhile how messed up his family dynamic was and in the certain winner for best teleplay ‘Fishes’ we got an up close and personal view of just how monstrous it was to live in it. By the end of Season 2, Carmy is just as messed up as he was at the start of the series and the question is whether he can make any emotional growth at all or whether he’ll keep wrecking everybody as he moves endlessly forward to a goal he doesn’t have. Carmy has no joy in life right now, but White has to be experiencing it for being at the center of the one show everybody in the world is locked on.

D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Reservation Dogs

Woon-A-Tai has twice been nominated in this category by the Critics Choice Awards and his work as Bear has been the engine of so much of the action. Bear has spent the entire series going on a vision quest and for much of the final season he went on an actual one. After trying to visit his father in California, he got left behind and ended up encountering Maximus, the lost member of the reservation who was the backstory of Season 3. He finally encountered Deer Lady who has been one of the spiritual visions and now proved real. As the series unfolded, he has been working towards independence, something that troubled his mother but now has been able to move forward. And in the series finale, he came to a final realization and true growth. Other performers from Reservation Dogs have a better chance of earning nominations than Woon-A-Tai in this category but he is just as deserving of recognition as his co-stars are and deserves it more than some of the front-runners in this category. They will nominate the lead of The Bear, perhaps they can nominate another actor who played a character named Bear, and who clearly is far more emotionally healthy at the end of his journey than Carmy is right now.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Iain Armitage, Young Sheldon

Iain Armitage took on a goliath task when he took on the title role in this series. Jim Parsons had already won four Emmys for playing the grown-up Sheldon and the original was still on the air when the spinoff began. Armitage very quickly made this version of the character his own and demonstrated that he is one of the greatest superstar young talents. (Those of us who watched him as Ziggy in Big Little Lies already knew that.)

Yet despite all the brilliance and love of the show, it has never received any recognition that its originator did from the Emmys. Critics have loved it and it has gotten love from other awards show but nothing from the Emmys. Perhaps in a year of transition this series could get some love from the Emmys and that would start with giving a Best Actor nomination to the young actor who did the impossible for seven years: completely make us forget the legendary performance that he would grow up to be and make a character as unique as his own.

Tomorrow I deal with Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy. This one is going to be much tighter than this one was. Trust me.

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David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.