Emmys: Andy Samberg Gets Boxed in by Host Role

Andy Samberg said in advance that he wouldn’t read reviews of his Emmy Awards performance. With the benefit of hindsight, that’s probably not a bad idea – not because the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star was bad, exactly, but merely because he felt somewhat miscast for this role, a preconception that was borne out as the night dragged on.

Samberg certainly started on an energetic note, but that was almost a foregone conclusion. A taped song bit in which he locked himself away to watch every show on television (even “Castle”) capitalized on his “Saturday Night Live”-honed strengths and the digital shorts with which he’s been associated. As the number finished, he was prompted by Bob Odenkirk to go out and tell some “culturally relevant but not too edgy jokes.”

Standup, however, isn’t necessarily Samberg’s foremost skill, as anyone who saw him at Fox’s upfront presentation might have concluded. And while his self-consciously exaggerated, wildly sunny disposition came across well enough, the mix of topical jokes about presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, or Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has refused to sanction gay marriages, felt somewhat shoehorned in alongside the TV-specific material.

What mostly came across, gradually, was that Samberg’s approach just didn’t wear especially well. He plays better in bite-sized bits, and his sprightly setup/joke rhythms yielded diminishing returns over the course of the evening. That somewhat undercut, say, a funny sight gag – with him cozying up to an over-sized Emmy statue, in what he called an homage to “Girls” – by following it with a flat tribute to “SNL” patriarch Lorne Michaels that paid off with giving him a “World’s Best Boss” mug.

Similarly, a canned sketch that came toward the midway point spoofing the “Mad Men” finale felt unnecessary. The same goes for a let’s-see-what’s-happening-on-the-red-carpet gag that involved Tony Hale and Tatiana Maslany.

Of course, the host’s presence is invariably less than meets the eye. At almost every awards presentation, hosts disappear for stretches as the show gets into the meat of the ceremony. Yet even when Samberg popped up, there was seldom a sense of spontaneity in many of his gags. (A shout out to Kyle Chandler, after Jon Hamm won, was a rare exception.)

The presenter introductions, always a challenge, were somehow more lame than usual. As for lengthier moments, it sometimes gave the impression of material that could have gone into the opening monologue simply being tossed in to fill time, which was clearly becoming precious as more of the acceptance speeches ran long.

The emphasis on comedy was also such that the telecast kept bringing people to the stage that frankly might have been better suited to this particular task, including several of those late-night hosts (as well as HBO’s John Oliver) who inevitably get the call when their network broadcasts the Emmys.

Samberg was a relatively modest part of what is always, by simple construction, a pretty long sit. But for anyone who hoped the guy behind “Dick in a Box” would somehow manage to shake up the Emmys, the host instead found himself pretty well boxed in.

More TV

  • WGA Awards 2019 Winners

    WGA Awards 2019: Bo Burnham Wins Original Screenplay Award for 'Eighth Grade'

    In a stunning upset, Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade” from the Writers Guild of America. He credited star Elsie Fisher for his winning the award. Burnham won over Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”; Adam McKay’s “Vice”; Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”; and Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, [...]

  • 50 Cent Power

    NYPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Telling Police to Shoot 50 Cent 'on Sight'

    A New York City precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot rapper 50 Cent on sight, a police rep confirmed to Variety on Sunday. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD rep said, declining to answer further questions. Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez is accused of telling officers during a June 7 roll [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content