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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 10:40pm

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It’s Emmy nomination season: Voters in the Television Academy are currently 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. Over the next couple weeks, look for our ballots for the acting and series categories in comedy and drama. Today, we’re starting with Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Matthew Barnauskas, TV/New Media Editor:

T.J. Miller, “Silicon Valley” — A consistent best comedy nominee, “Silicon Valley” cast hasn’t broken through to the Emmy voters. If any member deserves to be nominated it’s Miller’s Erlich Bachman. A combination of arrogance, genius and foolishness, Bachman is the pure wildcard in Silicon Valley’s deck and serves as a constant showcase for Miller’s talent as a comedian and improviser.

Keegan-Michael Key, “Key and Peele” — With Key and Peele now officially concluded, hopefully there’s some continued recognition for Key who has continuously conveyed a wide variety of characters in the groundbreaking sketch series. It wouldn’t hurt if Jordan Peele got some love as well.

Fred Armisen, “Documentary Now!” — I’m honestly surprised to see Armisen in the supporting category while his co-star Bill Hader is in the lead, this may depend on what episode Armisen will send in. However, Armisen consistently delivered performances, from a hapless murder suspect to an ambitious Eskimo filmmaker, which not only sent up their real-life documentary counterparts but also took on a life of their own.

Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — A breakout from last year, Burgess continued to make his mark as the quotable wanna-be star, Titus Andromedon. Let us also not forget the fantastic audition tape for “Hamilton.”

Paul Rudd, “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” — Returning after 15 years to the role of Camp Firewood badboy Andy, Rudd got to bring his expanded comedic skills to the role that first showed off his comedic potential. In an origin story that would make “High School Musical” jealous, Rudd doubled down on the lovable douchebaggery that made him a standout all those years ago.

Alex Intner, Summer Managing Arts Editor:

Andre Braugher - “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Jaime Camil - “Jane the Virgin”

Santino Fontana - “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Keegan-Michael Key - “Key & Peele”

Hugh Laurie - “Veep”

Martin Starr - “Silicon Valley”

This was a very tough category to narrow down, as there are so many great performances given by actors, with some series having many potential nominees. Let’s start with Braugher, who plays the deadpan straight man to Andy Samberg on “Brooklyn” with poise and fantastic comic timing. Camil proves to be a master of both drama and comedy on “Jane,” bringing a genuine love to his character, the egotistical but lovable telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega. Fontana is a bit more understated than Braugher and Camil, but he makes Greg come alive with both his dialogue and his singing. Key was the showier actor who was asked to do more with his talent on the sketch comedy he shared with Jordan Peele, which is why he gets my nod here over Peele. It was difficult to pick just one actor from the “Veep” ensemble, but Laurie’s performance in the episode “Congressional Ball” where he shared an angry and intimate moment with President Selina Meyer was enough to give him a spot. Starr is another actor on a show with a deep roster of supporting talent. Maybe I just like deadpan (instead of a shower performance from someone like T.J. Miller), but he can bring many laughs with even the simplest of lines and deliveries.

Anay Katyal, Summer Senior Arts Editor:

Fred Armisen (“Documentary Now! ”)

Hannibal Buress (“Broad City ”)

Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)

Tony Hale (“Veep”)

Rob Corddry (“Ballers”)

Malcolm McDowell (“Mozart in the Jungle”)

Though perhaps a surprise to some, Fred Armisen’s inclusion on this list is a testament to the wry wit and clever writing that Armisen managed to so masterfully bring to life in IFC’s mockumentary series “Documentary Now!” (along with fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Bill Hader). Along a similar vein, Hannibal Buress’s supporting role as Lincoln Rice in “Broad City” is an unapologetically brash, crass addition to an already eccentric crew of characters on the show, and Buress’s fine job complementing the protagonist’s unique humor deserves a fair bit of recognition. Tituss Burgess once again fit his role as Titus Andromedon on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” like a glove (which doesn’t come as a surprise considering the role was specifically written with him in mind), rarely deviating from his consistently humorous flamboyance and charm. Long time loyal associate to President Selina Meyer, Gary Walsh is a lovable, affable and endearingly clumsy supporting character; Tony Hale’s skill for playing meek and clingy comic relief has masterfully transcended his “Arrested Development” days and has found a comfortable home in “Veep.” A bit of a stranger to the rest of the list, Rob Corddry’s involvement in HBO’s “Ballers” has been a revelation, complementing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson perfectly with his knack for wild and brash antics. To top the list off, Malcolm McDowell (along with the rest of the cast of “Mozart in the Jungle”) is a wonderfully eccentric and emotionally unstable supporting character in Amazon’s latest original series, bringing a much welcomed and seasoned presence to the screen.

Megan Mitchell, Daily Arts Writer:

Fred Armisen, “Documentary Now!”  — My Dream Winner

In a world where biopics have overtaken Hollywood, Armisen reminds us of the existence of films that matter in a hilariously original comedy piece. Previously nominated in 2014 for his various characters in “Portlandia,” SNL alum Fred Armisen could break down barriers if chosen as an Emmy contender. Why? He’s bringing the world of documentaries out of the elementary school classrooms and back into the mainstream media of today. Teaming up with Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, the trio produces a brigade of mockumentaries reminiscent of their alma mater, “Saturday Night Live.” Not only do the documentaries capture audiences, but they induce hysterical laughter in this rare showcase of raw comedic talent.

Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Foil characters usually reside in the background, never pushing the boundaries too far or interacting with the title character closely enough to develop a personality — Braugher is the exception. His character in Andy Samberg’s sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is Captain Holt, the idyllic model of how a foil character should interact in a series. Not only does Braugher pull all of the punches, but often steals them from Samberg. In character, Braugher somehow manages to merge serious insults with a passivity that elicits a light, comedic feeling to the most serious and adult situations that the cast finds themselves in on a weekly basis.

Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Tituss Burgess is as fabulous as his name suggests. And in an industry bursting with fabulous and talented a, Tituss finds the spotlight in the original series “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” This is the role he was born to play, which is why it just works so well. Although the first season of “Unbreakable” could find Tituss as a supporting actor, the title could never begin to describe his role in the newest season, as the former geisha covers both laughs and sympathy in a moving performance that begets the best of Fey and Carlock’s series. They may have written the words, but Burgess’s performance has given it life.

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs that one can possess. The same philosophy goes for Ty Burrell, who exemplifies the familial rollercoaster on network television in the long-running sitcom “Modern Family” as father Phil Dunphy. Since 2009, the Dunphys have become a household name, as each episode captures a snapshot of everyday life that is related personally by viewers. Through ridiculous plots and ordinary family gatherings, Burrell’s comedic style remains steady, adapting slightly to new changes of environment in a believable manner.

Adam Driver, “Girls”

The fifth season of HBO’s “Girls” was among the most explosive of the series, due, in part, to the dual performances of Adam Driver and Jemina Kirke. Over ten episodes, Jessa and Adam’s relationship moved from hair curlers and cigarettes to babies and makeup sex. And throughout this time, Driver put on an exceptional performance that wide range of acting capabilities. From handling an infant to an explosive domestic dispute, Driver handles seconds-long switches with a believable accuracy that is often lost in the large world of comedic dramas.

Charlie McDermott, “The Middle”

Although McDermott is more of a personal pick, he speaks to the millennial generation during every eight o’clock performance, which is why he deserves a nod in the top Emmy picks. Axl Heck is the embodiment of college students everywhere. Our collective voice of laziness and procrastination, McDermott captures the university experience with an all too relatable character. During the most recent season of “The Middle,” McDermott has transformed his character into a more mature Axl, in a process that is strikingly familiar and yet entirely alien coming from the man who sold grilled cheese out of his RV.

Sam Rosenberg, Daily Arts Writer:

Desmin Borges - “You’re The Worst”
Fred Melamed - “Lady Dynamite”
Tituss Burgess - “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Jaime Camil -  “Jane the Virgin”
Jay Duplass - “Transparent”
Vincent Rodriguez III - “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

This past TV season in comedy has been notably exceptional, especially in the writing and lead performances. However, the supporting cast members of these shows have also made big strides in making their shows function well. I believe this particular group of supporting actors and actresses stands out in their respective TV shows, not only for providing the laughs and authenticity to their shows, but also for helping bring out the emotional weight and three-dimensional qualities of their characters through their engaging, nuanced performances.