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Emmys: Comedy Nominations Play It Straight

Looking for big changes? Wait 'til next year ...

Comedy is tragedy plus time. The Emmy nominations for comedy offer neither.

It’s not exactly a catastrophe that the field of Emmy comedy nominees has barely changed in the past year, but maintaining most of the status quo won’t exactly make the crowds at the Laffatorium double over in delight.

Should we blame the Academy for its shortsightedness or the industry for not producing fresh meat for the voters? Or should there be no blame at all? I’ll go with a combination of the three.

After all, it’s not like many of the nominees aren’t deserving, or that the Academy has overlooked a ton of new product, or that Hollywood has been completely bereft of new comic ideas.  It’s just that the current combination might seem a little tired.

All five 2012 comedy series nominees that were eligible for a return trip this year had their ticket punched, with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” supplanted during its indefinite hiatus by arguably the least surprising choice in the field, “Louie,” which had acting, writing and directing nominations last year.

One or two veteran shows would have freshened the field a bit — “Parks and Recreation” and “Enlightened” are among those with fervent followings — but it’s not as if a wholesale swap of vets was called for. Freshman alternatives either drew mixed responses or were very much on the fringe — interesting but not realistic.

Similarly, the lead actor and actress fields saw little change. In lead comedy actor, the two differences from last year were previous nominees Jason Bateman and Matt LeBlanc. Lead comedy actress featured five returning nominees plus Laura Dern of “Enlightened.”

The best place to complain to the Academy about boredom is in the supporting acting categories, where there really were an abundance of new options.

Nevertheless, every eligible comedy supporting actress that was nominated in 2012 came back for more in 2013, with Kathryn Joosten and Kristen Wiig succeded by the trio (thanks to a tie) of newcomer Anna Chlumsky and formerly nominated Janes Krakowski and Lynch.

The most earthshattering news in the acting nominations might have been the omission of 2012 Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet, but the impact was softened by the return of three other “Modern Family” co-stars.

Perhaps appropriately, three of the five writing nominations for comedy were shared by long-running series in their final seasons: “The Office” (Greg Daniels) and “30 Rock” (Jack Burditt/Robert Carlock and Tina Fey). Two of those were for series finales. One way or another, the comedy scene at the Emmys is due for more change; perhaps that change is gonna come next year.

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