Amy Poehler

2014 Emmy Preview: Outstanding Lead Actress Comedy

Over the weekend we discussed the rapid decline of the Lead Actor in a Comedy series category, which has led to an era of dominance by Jim Parsons. This category is on the verge of having an actress win it three years in a row. However, unlike her male counterpart it is not from a dearth of competition, but rather sheer brilliance. The only question to ask in this category is can anyone stop Julia Louis-Dreyfus?


When you come at the Queen, you best not miss.

When you come at the Queen, you best not miss.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (1/4) – Emmy royalty, she has won four awards and received 15 nominations, eight for lead and seven for supporting actress in a comedy series. All signs point to her taking home a fifth golden statute tomorrow night. Veep is the best comedy on television and Dreyfus is the main reason why. The way she rips through the profanity laced Iannucci dialogue or plays Selina Meyer’s determination to matter in Washington is pure gold. Right now she is playing in a higher league than the rest of her competition.

Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black” (9/2) – Fan opinion is split on Piper Chapman as a character. Count me amongst the fans, as a suburban boy she reminds me of home. But even the haters must admit that Schilling’s performance is impressive and worthy of a nomination. It is hard to match Jenji Kohan’s last leading lady, Mary Louise Parker from Weeds, but Schilling seems to have a great grasp of Kohan’s wry sense of humor and brings it out in her performance.

Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation” (7/1) – This was Poehler’s worst season on the show, which is still better than 99% of the female leads in comedies. Another black mark on the Emmy’s record. It astonishes me that Poehler has never one for playing Leslie Knope a character that against all odds has become more iconic than Michael Scott from The Office. Over the past six seasons no one has been better at making an audience run the gambit of emotions than Poehler as Knope. She makes us laugh, cry, get angry, laugh even harder, feel embarrassed, and then laugh harder than we thought possible. Sadly it appears,  just like Carrell, Poehler will never take home the gold.

Lena Dunahm, “Girls” (30/1) – I hate Dunham with a fiery passion, but that she brings such passion out of me may speak to the level of talent she has. I’m just not sure if my hatred is jealousy or because she actually sucks. It is a complicated matter and I need to explore my feelings on it further before I decide if she is worthy of this nomination.tumblr_mp5tiekfvN1r0dgn4o1_500

Melissa McCarthy, “Mike and Molly” (30/1) – Everyone loves Melissa McCarthy. Except for Jenny McCarthy, but that is a complicated story. She is a bona fide movie star that seems to crap out hundreds of millions in box office. But that does not mean she is delivering an Emmy worthy performance on TV. First off, the material she is given is not nearly up to the caliber she deserves. This shouldn’t count against her, but it only allows her to glide by on tired gags. Emmy voters quickly realized that Jason Segal’s movie success did not translate to a stellar performance on How I Met Your Mother and must do the same with McCarthy. This will be the last year she gets nominated.

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” (30/1) – Falco sneaks in to the field because she has won this award playing this character before and she is a phenomenal actress. However, Nurse Jackie is suffering creative fatigue and Falco has been forced to cycle through the same character beats as earlier in its run. Again, this is not her fault, but it also lessens the appeal of the role.


Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, “Broad City” – An Emmy first is needed, nominate a pair of actress for one spot. Broad City is the best new comedy of the year and also the comedy that made me laugh the hardest. The credit all goes to Glazer and Jacobson who not only serve as the show’s stars, but its creators as well. The majority of scenes in the show feature just the two of them improving off one another. Their chemistry is unmatched on TV today and it is impossible to separate them.

Rossum has grown to outshine the immensely talented William H Macy on Shameless.

Rossum has grown to outshine the immensely talented William H Macy on Shameless.


Emmy Rossum, “Shameless” – This is a tough year for Shameless to submit in the comedy category. It spent the previous three seasons in drama, while being a twisted dark comedy about a family surviving on Chicago’s South Side. Then switched to comedy and delivered its most dramatic season yet as the weight that the Gallaghers have been holding up all came crashing down on top of them. The focal point of this crash was Rossum’s Fiona whom nearly killed her toddler brother by leaving cocaine out on the table, then proceeded to have a prison arc of her own, but without all the humor that Schilling got to play with on Orange is the New Black. Never the less, comedic or not, Rossum deserves more recognition for her work on the underrated Shameless.

Best Bet

There is a great case to be made for a Schilling win. Orange is the New Black is a trendy new show that has a groundswell of support and might have a huge night, racking up award after award. Schilling could very well be a beneficiary of that support and topple Queen Dreyfus. But in reality talking up anyone else in this category is like betting on Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent. Yeah, it sounds fun and tempting to correctly pick the man that takes him down, but in the end Money Mayweather is going to win by decision. Bet big on Dreyfus.

Should Win 

Dreyfus is the Queen, but Veep has a tremendous supporting cast, while Glazer and Jacobson carry the show on their own. Yes, it is cheating to pick a pair over one person, but it takes something special like this to topple a legend. And while Veep is a better overall show, no one made me laugh harder than Jacobson and Glazer on Broad City.

Will Win 

This is the biggest lock of the night. Dreyfus makes it a three peat. You’re welcome Pat Riley. She is just too good and Emmy voters love her too much for anyone to beat her.


My Quest To Find Funny Women

It is cliche to say women aren’t funny. This is absolutely not true. It just happens that much like the female orgasm it is a lot harder to find examples of funny women compared to their male counterparts. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, but since I apparently lack the skills to make a woman cum I’m hoping to have more like with this funny business.

I will search every corner of the earth to find all the funny women that exist in order to change the stereotype and get people to accept women as funny. I’m basically like MLK. First up is a pair of women, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the creators of Comedy Central’s Broad City. This is the quintessential Millennial’s show of millennial women living in New York because unlike that much more praised show on HBO it is actually funny. I realize that my bias against Lena Dunham just came out and I need to stop being so bitter, but Broad City made me realize why I dislike Dunham’s show so much, it doesn’t pick a side. Is it a satire? A character study? A romantic comedy? What? It is fine to tightrope between multiple visions of your show, but you need to be a damn good writer to pull it off, which I do not find her to be. Her show just comes off as self-indulgent, bourgeois New York art crap that I despise so much. Alright, digression over. 

Jacobson and Glazer have a better understanding of exactly the type of show they want to make it and as a result their show is much funnier. They mix biting satire with absurdist humor and the result is a potent cocktail of laughs. The show in a highlights the ennui and self-importance of the Millennial generation in a highly comedic fashion.

If my seal of approval is not enough for you, then perhaps Leslie “fucking” Knope’s is. Amy Poehler loved the web series, of the same name, Glazer and Jacobson did that she backed it with her production company, Skyson. Her support was influential to getting the show on the air. Poehler knows how to pick a winner because the first season of the show, all episodes available on Hulu Plus, is a fast track candidate to enter my Great Lakes of best seasons of television ever. Seriously, check it out and try to tell me you don’t piss yourself from laughing.

I cannot wait to see what Jacobson and Glazer have for a follow up. Plus I have a new mission in life, do whatever it takes to work with and/or for them someday. I do not care what it takes to trick them into hiring me or convincing them to work together, I’ll do it. Even if it means killing a person, alright maybe not a person, but animals are definitely in play. And I certainly have no qualms with establishing an indentured sex servant agreement. 

Late Night Monotony – CBS Plays It Safe

CBS made official this morning what so many people had been speculating since David Letterman announced his retirement last Thursday, Stephen Colbert will take over the Late Show reigns next year. It is the logical choice, Colbert is part of the CBS/Viacom family and has been wildly successful with his arch-conservative parody Colbert Report. He brings the kind of social media cache that the networks have become all about with the Jimmys, Fallon and Kimmel. Colbert is a brilliant guy and he will definitely deliver a consistently funny product, but will anyone care?

Colbert is set to take the reigns starting next year.

Colbert is set to take the reigns starting next year.

Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and and Renee Mauborgne is a book that conceptualizes a strategy to make competition irrelevant. The cornerstone of the strategy is to value innovation. By seeking a new, original product a company can make its competition irrelevant. It requires looking beyond demand and giving people something they didn’t know they wanted. By hiring another funny, intelligent middle-aged white guy CBS put itself in the same ocean as every other late night network, broadcast and cable. This makes the market highly competitive and Colbert is going to need to be that much better in order to succeed.

It does not come as much of a shock considering that CBS isn’t exactly known for its innovation, but in a twisted way much of their success has come from accidentally imploring a Blue Ocean Strategy. Over the past decade the other three broadcast networks, Fox, ABC, and NBC, have tried to get out in front of the the digital revolution and create programming designed for the millennial audience. The problem is that they greatly overestimated our generation’s interest in watching live television and chose innovative style over substance. CBS, on the other hand, went the opposite direction going with nostalgic throwbacks, multi-cam traditional sitcoms and police/investigative procedurals.  And it has worked like gangbusters for the most watched network since the turn of the Millenium. Now the other networks are trying to follow suit and have more CBS style programming in its schedule.

The only two men brave enough to employ a Blue Ocean Strategy.

The only two men brave enough to employ a Blue Ocean Strategy.

Unfortunately CBS is either unaware of its strategy or unwilling to apply it to its Late Night programming. Well, actually, still not entirely true. It does produce the most innovative of all late night programming in The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Improvised monologues over pithy jokes about today’s hot topics. A gay, robot skeleton sidekick named Geoff Peterson as its Ed McMahon. Absolutely no prepared interviews with its guests. Ferguson has applied the blue ocean strategy to turn the late night genre on its head and it is the only one that I can actually sit through an entire episode of week to week. Sure the other shows have more viral videos that are funny the next day, but as a whole the shows are difficult to watch and 75% of the interviews are brutal to watch in its glaringly rehearsed structure.

The success and creativity of Ferguson’s show makes it even more frustrating that CBS chose to simply follow the same formula with Colbert. It could’ve been an opportunity bring a woman back to late night. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were both pipe dreams considering both are producing multiple shows this upcoming season and the latter still has a final season of Parks and Rec to get through. Chelsea Handler’s style is a bit aggressive and I’m not sure if she is likeable enough to host on her own. Ellen Degenres, coming off a successful Academy Award hosting gig, could’ve been an excellent out of the box choice. A lesbian hosting the Late Show almost 20 years after her coming out announcement helped drive her sitcom off the air would make for a great story. It would’ve been easy for her to stand out among her peers and bring in a new audience.

How much fun would it be to have these two on our TVs every night?

How much fun would it be to have these two on our TVs every night?

But simply choosing a host that stands out was not the only way CBS could’ve spiced things up. A change in format would make for a breath of fresh air. Perhaps something simple to start out like moving to a co-host format. A funny pair that can work off one another, say Key and Peele for example. Imagine them moving their sketch format to the big time on CBS and adding interview segments, and musical and comedic acts to it. Now that would create a buzz and become must watch TV. Perhaps they could’ve Godfathered Jon Stewart to do the Daily Show on CBS every night. It could remain exactly the same just add an extra guest and a musical act. Next to Ferguson and the Colbert character, Stewart is the best interviewer, so it would not hurt to give him more time with each guest. Even better, get rid of the traditional taped in front of a studio audience format all together. Take the show on the road, film more sketches, do more walking around town and talking to real people bits that still work, just like at Billy Eichner’s Billy on the Street for evidence. If the networks are really looking for more viral videos, then this format change will allow for it.

Perhaps when Colbert’s premiere date approaches we’ll learn that he has his own ideas on how to innovate the tired old format. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised by anything he might do as host, but as of right now it seems like CBS is happy treading water in the Red Ocean rather than taking a chance and swimming for the Blue.