There are a lot of different things that make a great comedy actor, whether it be commitment, resilience, the ability to play a wide array of emotions, or having chemistry with your co-star. Beyond anything, you need to either enable, produce, or facilitate some sort of laughter. It can be awkward, intentional, or completely silly, but so much about what makes great comedy is that it figures out some way to trigger those receptors that make you laugh. Sure, great comedies can also make you cry, but there has to be some balance there for it to work.
Below, you can see the six contenders who are, in our head at least, the most worthy of an Emmy nomination this year. Beyond our descriptions, we want to hear about your favorite in the attached poll / comments!
How do you vote? It’s easy. Just pick your favorite of the nominees at the bottom of the article, and you can do so however many times you like — you may need to clear the cache first. (Note that if you are visiting on mobile and do not see the poll, you may need to click to view the non-AMP version of the page.) If your favorite is not on our list, be sure to leave us a comment in the box below with your choice. We still want to hear from you!
The 2017 Emmy nominations will be formally announced on July 13. The results of all of our CarterMatt Emmy polls will be formally revealed on July 12 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific. They will officially close in the minutes leading up to that time.
Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix) – Ansari is thought-provoking, funny, introspective, and boisterous somehow at the same time. He’s a wonderful comedic chameleon, and he captures the essence of playing a person in his world to such an extent that you forget at times that you’re watching a television show here. Ansari’s second season is just as strong as the first, and he may have Dev’s voice down pat even more so than before even though he took the character to new places (including a new country) in season 2.
Ted Danson, The Good Place (NBC) – Exceptionally funny while also being exceptionally strange, this is Danson letting convention go perhaps more than any other role in his career. There’s something even more and darkly whimsical about his character Michael when you re-watch the show, knowing the absolutely bonkers twist that is awaiting you at the end of the first season. We have to imagine that this was a delightful part for him to play.
Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX) – As Earnest “Earn” Marks, Glover established himself a once-in-a-lifetime character who was real, layered, and capable of pulling out feelings and reactions you wouldn’t expect in any typical comedy. This role was in so many ways the culmination of everything that he did before, whether it be as an actor on an absurd show like Community, as a rapper under the name Childish Gambino, and as a writer on shows like 30 Rock. It’s his creatively that shines through like a beacon in this role. It’s an amalgamation of so many things in his life story.
Pete Holmes, Crashing (HBO) – Pete’s take on Pete (similar in more ways beyond just the name) was refreshing just in how he was willing to pull from his life, expose flaws, and play these up while still showing that capacity to move beyond them. There have been other shows about real-life comedians playing struggling versions of themselves, but what we saw from him here was a performance that was tender, vulnerable, funny at times, and a nice reinvention of the comedian-paying-comedians trope. Here, there is more struggle and therefore more bounce-back. It offered up more of a journey to endear yourself to the character.
Danny McBride, Vice Principals (HBO) – Neal Gamby is not a likable man. He’s a jerk to his ex-wife’s new guy Ray, he’s a jerk to most of his co-workers, and he’s complicit in a number of terrible things thanks to his partnership with the utterly psychotic Lee Russell. Yet, there’s an earnestness about the way that McBride plays him that makes you still want to root for him, even if you know full well that you shouldn’t. Nobody plays flawed loudmouth characters better than McBride, while also finding ways to make you smile when they pop up onscreen.
Timothy Olyphant, Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix) – Going into the Netflix comedy, we had zero clue that Olyphant could even do comedy this big, this broad, or this hilarious. He was a revelation in this series, throwing himself into everything and doing some of the best physical comedy that we’ve seen anyone take on in years. In so many other places now, comedic television has become more of an exercise in restraint. Not so much here, and that’s part of what makes Santa Clarita Diet great.
Now, we leave it to you to vote!
Remember that to see some other Emmy categories posted daily (including Outstanding Drama Series), be sure to visit the link here. (Photo: Emmys.)