The results each year at major award shows in Hollywood are akin to what usually happens in major American elections – it takes a while to get there but eventually – eventually – voters do the right thing. I’m talking about the moments in Sunday’s Emmy telecast when Jon Hamm finally won best actor for the first time in seven nominations for Mad Men and Viola Davis became the first African American to take home best drama series actress for How To Get Away With Murder.
Mr. Hamm – though I feel after all these years of fandom I should call him Jon – or even Jonny – gave a modest, heartfelt speech. Ms. Davis – whom I will not refer to as Vi – gave a thoughtful, political one.
Which is not to say that this year’s three-hour program – which in my house felt more like seven and a half plus commercials – was not a languid, tedious misfire of an affair. It was. In fact, the prior week’s Republican presidential debate from the Ronald Reagan library was infinitely more entertaining for this liberal. And I’m only speaking just about the show itself – not the fact that I’m one of those liberals who doesn’t find this year’s best comedy series Emmy winner, Veep, even remotely funny. Well, I suppose real life political events, especially those about-to-be for the next 12 months – are and will be infinitely funnier. Let’s face it, you couldn’t make The Republican Apprentice up, and even if you could, how much more irreverently meta could that character be?
Certainly he’d be funnier than Andy Samberg, a generally amusing guy who turned in a performance that could best be compared to a defanged Seth MacFarlane when he was hosting the Oscars several years ago. His opening taped bit about not having enough time to watch all of what was on TV had a few yuks but when he went live it was a bit like a deadly frat party where the guy everyone finds funny one on one is asked to entertain at an all-campus event. He’s jolly enough but he’s not in the right room or with the right crowd. One supposes it’s the same reason Seth MacFarlane can make you laugh almost anywhere but the Oscars.
You know you’re in trouble when your host turns in ad-libs like the one about best limited series winner Olive Kittridge that go like this: I didn’t see Olive Kittridge. I only saw half. Get it? Ol-ive (All-of) Kittridge – only Half (Half?).
In fairness, three hours is an incredibly long time to sit these days when you’re not choosing to binge watch your preferred series of choice via your favorite streaming service. It must have seemed even longer for good sports Tatiana Maslany (the long overlooked and finally Emmy nominated star of Orphan Black) and this year’s best supporting comedy actor, Veep’s Tony Hale – when they were doing some hackneyed bit mid-show on the empty red carpet where they found and fought over an open can of baked beans. Baked beans on a red carpet? Really? How about…popcorn? Caviar? A tuna sandwich? I’ve probably been on about 50 red carpets in my day and there was nary a baked bean to be found.
No, I’m not being too literal. For it to be funny it has to be possible. Ugh, who really gives a darn, anyway? Samberg’s got a hit network show so he must know better, right? No. Remember, Alf was on TV for four years and Three’s Company was on for eight.
Which brings us to Mel Brooks presenting best comedy series. He just walks on TV – as he has on and off for 50 years – and he’s funny. Why? I’m not sure. Probably the same reason Amy Schumer slayed it in a 90 second acceptance speech where among other things she thanked her makeup person for her cool smoky eye or Jon Stewart made us laugh simply by jumping up and down amid a crowd full of his own writers when they won their final Emmy for their work on the last season of The Daily Show.
It was, indeed, inspiring to see Tracy Morgan seemingly recovered from a near fatal auto accident more than a year ago as he walked onstage, made a few irreverent jokes that landed, and presented the final award of the night for best drama series. No joke here – it was.
These are the moments award shows are about. But there can only be a few of those per program. The rest is up to the host and the writers, the winners and the non-winners (Note: Let’s try to avoid losers) to keep it going.
One may ask: Chair, why do you even watch award shows if you dislike them so much
Answer: I love award shows. I just dislike dull, unfunny ones.
P.S. – Especially when the best-written and acted series on television – Mad Men– doesn’t win the final award of the night. No, I don’t watch the winner, Game of Thrones. And now I don’t plan to. Unless Jon Hamm is planning to guest star.
Relive the Chair’s Emmy twitter feed, and join in on the post Emmy convo.Tweets by @notesfromachair