Daily Arts Dream Emmy Ballots: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Monday, June 27, 2016 - 9:54pm

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It’s Emmy nomination season: Voters in the Television Academy have just finished casting their ballots for who will be in the group of nominees announced on July 14. This year, Daily Arts Writers and Editors wanted to join in the fun, putting together our lists of who we want to be among the nominees. We’re continuing this series with Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Matthew Barnauskas, Daily TV/New Media Editor

Aziz Ansari, “Master of None” — Much of “Master of None” ’s success came from its ability to look at the flaws that not only exist in the world but the individual. By taking on the character of Dev, Ansari placed himself forward, forming a character that often felt like an extension of the comedian himself,

Bill Hader, “Documentary Now!” — Like his co-star Fred Armisen, Hader brought forward a new character each week on “Documentary Now!” that often felt deeply inhabited and fleshed out in the half-hour we spent with them. Meanwhile, Hader’s skills as an impersonator shined through, most notably in “The Eye Doesn’t Lie,” where he nailed the disaffected drawl of killer David Ray Harris.

Thomas Middleditch, “Silicon Valley” — The bumpy road that Pied Piper has travelled in “Silicon Valley” has been difficult for all involved. As Richard Hendricks, Middleditch often captures the highs and lows that come with being leading a start-up as Richard struggles to earn back his own company. Constant struggle marks the progress of Pied Piper and Middleditch and keeps the audience invested as the next obstacle appears.

Chris Gere, “You’re the Worst” — As struggling writer Jimmy, Gere found himself in the challenging position of depicting a character who must meet the challenges of living with someone with depression. Starting absolutely clueless, Jimmy fails more often than not when trying to understand Gretchen’s issues (and makes the mistaken assumption that he can single-handedly fix them). However, he tries his best and learns that just being there for Gretchen may be enough.

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, “W/ Bob and David” — Returning to the show that preceded much of their fame, Odenkirk and Cross brought years of experience to their sketch comedy roots. Interweaving sketches with seamless segues and callbacks, “W/ Bob and David” made every character its stars played crucial to the flow and success of each episode.

Alex Intner, Summer Managing Arts Editor:

Anthony Anderson - “Blackish”

Aziz Ansari - “Master of None”

Andy Daly - “Review”

Thomas Middleditch - “Silicon Valley”

Timothy Omundson - “Galavant”

Andy Samberg - “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

This list of actors is likely to be very far from the actual list of nominees, but this group’s comedic talent makes them worthy of a nomination. Anderson is not only a master of making laughs, his monologue in the Black Lives Matter episode of “Blackish” showed his range as an actor, which was a crucial element to making that powerful episode work. Ansari got more accolades for his writing on “Master of None,” but the series doesn’t work without his committed performance, as he perfectly delivers on both the series’s dramatic and comedic elements. Daly’s performance as Forrest MacNeil on “Review” is nothing short of extraordinary, as he made the show’s dark humor stand out through his acting. Middleditch has one of the hardest performances on “Silicon Valley”; he’s asked to make us care about what, in worse hands, could be a completely unlikable character. He draws humor out of even Richard’s craziest actions. Omundson was the shining star in season two of ABC’s fantastic “Galavant,” bringing depth to a character who sorely needed it and singing his way to laughs and a few tears. It took Samberg awhile to find his character on “Brooklyn.” However, now that he has, he’s giving one of the best comedic performances on television right now, fronting “Brooklyn” ’s brilliant ensemble.

Anay Katyal, Summer Senior Arts Editor

Aziz Ansari - “Master of None”

Gael Garcia Bernal - “Mozart in the Jungle”

Dwayne Johnson - “Ballers”

Jeffrey Tambor - “Transparent”

Tim Robbins - “The Brink”

Thomas Dewey - “Casual”

Each of these actors can be lauded for bringing a unique element of comedy to their respective programs, whether it be endearing, thought-provoking or raunchy (among other things). Aziz Ansari’s showing in “Master of None” was a masterfully crafted (and acted role) whose tackling of questions pertaining to Asian representation in media, being the children of immigrants in America and the like made for a comedic but pointed performance. Gael Garcia Bernal’s performance as the tortured and impassioned Maestro Rodrigo in “Mozart in the Jungle” was a role wrought with equal parts emotion and charm, and Bernal’s channeling of his character’s passion for music was impressively palpable. Dwayne Johnson’s foray into premium cable television was a kind of success no one expected; as his role as selfless, complex and troubled former NFL player turned financial manager addresses the various ills of being a professional athlete, Johnson proves he’s a lot more than the typecast he’s been long shackled down to. Along a similar vein as Ansari, Tambor’s role on “Transparent” made for a socially-relevant commentary, as his performance as transgender protagonist Maura made for a nuanced and poignant conversation on transgender politics. Though “The Brink” far from one of the better programs on television, Tim Robbins’s role as US Secretary of State Walter Larson brings a lot of quality (and raunchy) laughs to the screen. Though not as esteemed as the rest of this list, Thomas Dewey’s time on “Casual” (a criminally underrated show) is a testament to the quality programming Hulu has been bringing to the table.

Megan Mitchell, Daily Arts Writer:

Aziz Ansari - “Master of None”

Jay Baruchel - “Man Seeking Woman”

Tommy Dewey - “Casual”

Zach Galifianakis - “Baskets”

Bill Hader - “Documentary Now!”

Jim Parsons - “The Big Bang Theory”  

With an outstanding year in comedy, these are the actors who should lead the series into recognition for an Emmy. Just coming off of the final season of “Parks and Recreation,” Aziz Ansari gives us original comedy “Master of None,” which acts as a personal biography over a fictional series for the young comedian. Through botched dates and parental cameos, Ansari charms viewers in his wonderful new series about navigating life and love in the modern world of romance. A different form kind of charm can be found in Jay Baruchel’s antics in the FXX series “Man Seeking Woman,” which looks at the dating world through the satirical lens of showrunner Simon Rich. Hulu pulls into the Emmy race with the raunchy series “Casual,” a show that Tommy Dewey dominates the balance between brother-uncle duties in a family entering the dating world together. “Baskets” was reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s work as a clown, Zach Galifianakis, tackles his dreams and the language barrier in his familiar and outlandish comedic style. And while Galifianakis remained steady with his brand of comedy, Hader tried something both familiar to his “SNL” days and new to his repertoire in the various characters he portrayed in “Documentary Now!,” an independent mockumentary series. Through his various characters, we see the best of Hader in a seemingly never-ending SNL skit. Finally, frontrunner and defender of an impressive four awards, Jim Parsons, will return to the 68th show for his work on “The Big Bang Theory” as Sheldon Cooper, an eccentric physicist who coined the word “Bazinga!” Parsons has continued to remain true to his character over the show’s running length and has managed to keep his charm fresh going into the tenth season.

Sam Rosenberg, Daily Arts Writer:

Aziz Ansari - “Master of None”

Paul Rust - “Love"

Jeffrey Tambor - “Transparent”

Chris Geere - “You're The Worst”

Tommy Dewey - “Casual”

These 5 actors delivered on every comedic level in their respective shows this past TV season. Not only do these actors provoke gut-busting laughs for viewers, but they also manage to shape their characters into nuanced, flawed, and emotionally complex people. Aziz Ansari played exceptionally well as the star of “Master of None,” which he also co-created and co-wrote with “Parks & Rec” writer Alan Yang. Similar to Aziz, Paul Rust of Netflix's “Love” took on several creative reins, including his starring role as the goofy, lonely Gus, and successfully did so with poise. In the second season of “Transparent,” Jeffrey Tambor continued to mold his role as transgender matriarch Maura into something that's both layered and relatable. On FX's “You're The Worst,” Chris Geere stands out for portraying a conceited, short-tempered novelist with ease and grace, all while mastering his chemistry opposite Aya Cash. Tommy Dewey may not be the most distinguished among these nominees, but he definitely deserves some recognition as the older hedonistic brother of Watkins’s character in Hulu's vastly underrated “Casual.”

Previously:

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series