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Road to the Emmys: The Actor - Comedy

Larry David may have taken the year off, but Emmy voters were quick to fill his spot with two other lead actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves.

Matt LeBlanc scored his fourth lead nomination as a mangled depiction of his persona in the first season of Showtime’s showbiz satire, “Episodes.” Emmy voters also rewarded another actor in a freshman show, giving stand-up comedian Louis C.K. his first nom for FX’s “Louie,” which is loosely based on C.K.’s own life.

Add in Alec Baldwin’s stream of meta references to his own acting career on “30 Rock,” and it’s clear that voters strongly connect to comedy that hits close to Hollywood’s home address.

Meanwhile, last year’s lead actor winner Jim Parsons returns and has some close company in the category with the first nomination of “Big Bang Theory” co-star Johnny Galecki.

The category had some room for newcomers, given David’s hiatus from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the end of “Monk,” the Tony Shalhoub comedy that generated an astonishing eight nominations and three wins for its star. Matthew Morrison, recognized last year for “Glee,” didn’t make the cut this year, possibly due to a diminished role on the show’s second season.

Steve Carell, the category’s final nominee, has been on the ballot for all six full seasons of “The Office” but has never won the Emmy. Carell’s highly publicized departure from the NBC comedy may put sentiment on his side. Then again, Martin Sheen received six nominations over the run of “The West Wing” as the fictional U.S. president and never made it to the podium.

Alec Baldwin
“30 Rock”
(NBC)
Best scene: Jack riffs on Alec Baldwin’s acting career (“Do TV and no one will ever take you seriously again”) in the show’s much ballyhooed 100th episode.
Why he might win: Baldwin, who haswon twice for his portrayal of Jack Donaghy, is every bit as sharp in the show’s fifth season as in the earlier ones. He had some nice banter with Elizabeth Banks in trying to raise their baby.
Maybe not: Two prior wins may be viewed as plenty for some, particularly with Carell up for final season of “The Office.” Save the three-peat for “30 Rock’s” final year?

Louis C.K.
“Louie”
(FX)
Best scene: Louis begins an exploration of God and faith from the unlikely location of a men’s restroom stall.
Why he might win: C.K. is widely admired in the industry — many colleagues call him the best stand-up comedian working today — and his fans are passionate, vocal and loyal. Show’s second season recently began, making him fresh in voters’ minds.
Maybe not: C.K.’s humor isn’t for the faint-hearted or politically correct. His nomination here as an actor — a surprise to some — might be considered reward enough.

Steve Carell
“The Office”
(NBC)
Best scene: Michael says goodbye — awkwardly, of course, in typical fashion, and with genuine emotion — to Jim and Pam and takes leave of the show.
Why he might win: Carell has been nominated for each of the show’s six full seasons, but has never won. Voters have this one last chance to reward him for his stellar comedic, character-driven work on the series.
Maybe not: People didn’t like “Date Night”? They’re upset that he’s leaving “The Office”? Really, we’re grasping at straws here.

Johnny Galecki
“The Big Bang Theory”
(CBS)
Best scene: Leonard drives the Sheldon-bot to work, giving Parsons and Galecki plenty of leash to showcase their chemistry and mastery of physical comedy.
Why he might win: The long-overdue Galecki took nice advantage of the opportunity to mature his “Big Bang” character this season, through Leonard’s newfound relationship with Priya and his pleasantries with former girlfriend Penny.
Maybe not: Leonard’s difficulties with the opposite sex didn’t work for some fans. It’s Galecki’s first nomination and he’s up against not only co-star Parsons but also several highly regarded veterans.

Matt LeBlanc
“Episodes”
(Showtime)
Best scene: Displaying an engaging and/or appalling lack of self-awareness, “Matt” loudly talks and pops a cork while attending a combination rape prevention fundraising dinner and wine tasting.
Why he might win: Immensely likeable actor unafraid to poke fun at his own image, while also smartly skewering showbiz conventions. Made everyone forget “Joey,” while simultaneously reminding audiences why they loved the actor in the first place.
Maybe not: Show’s limited, seven-episode run reduces LeBlanc’s visibility.

Jim Parsons
“The Big Bang Theory”
(CBS)
Best scene: Sheldon, dressed as the Flash, zooms from Pasadena to the Grand Canyon in his imagination to scream into the abyss after Leonard tells him he’s going to turn down the thermostat.
Why he might win: Turned in another great season of precise comic timing, wowing with his ability to play a standoffish character who manages to click with everyone in the cast, particularly, this season, Kunal Nayyar’s Raj.
Maybe not: Won the Emmy last year, and it’s hard to repeat in this competitive category, unless your last name is Baldwin or Grammer.

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: THE ACTOR
Actors look to play characters unlike themselves
Comedy | Drama | Miniseries & Movies

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