×

Bob Odenkirk Recalls His First Emmy Win

These days Bob Odenkirk is best known for his Emmy nominated work as the star of the acclaimed “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul.” But Odenkirk’s first brush with Emmy came thanks to his career in comedy writing. In his second season on staff at “Saturday Night Live,” Odenkirk was part of a crew including Conan O’Brien, Mike Myers and Al Franken who went home with Emmy gold.

What do you remember about your first Emmy experience?

We were all so young. I rented a tuxedo because I didn’t own one. I didn’t see why I would ever need to own a tuxedo in my life. Now I have four. I don’t think I need four, but whatever I have them. It was comical to all of us. It was a weird mix of an honor, and a joke. We just felt like such interlopers in the actual business. We’re just guys who wanted to write comedy and got a real job doing it. And here’s this thing that has this community aspect to it that you can feel, it’s palpable. Old friends are greeting each other. It’s like, “I am not a part of this world. I don’t think I’ll ever be a part of it.”

And then you won on your first nomination.

We went crazy. We didn’t expect to win. I’ve only been in the business for essentially a year and a half and I’m getting this award that looks like it’s made of gold? We went up on stage, and then there’s the wonderful thing of going through the press lines which is also a completely unique experience. Since there are so many writers it’s not like you’re highlighted in any way, nor do you want to be. Usually the older writers — I guess Al Franken spoke and [head writer] James Downey, that would be about it. Everybody else felt like they were not comfortable with the mic.

What did you do after the press room?

You’re waiting till the next commercial break to go back into the auditorium. I used the payphone to call my mom — yes, this is a world before cell phones, imagine! — and tell her we won. She thought that was interesting, she didn’t really care. I ran into Jim Henson, he had received some kind of honorary Emmy that evening. He also did Kermit, if I’m not mistaken, from the podium. I said hi to him, talked to him for a few seconds. That was intimidating, but the best thing about the night. I got to say hi to Jim Henson. And the second best thing was at the Governors Ball — Peter Falk was there and I said hello to him. He was a real hero of mine as a performer as a kid, I loved “Columbo” so much.

You won again for “The Ben Stiller Show” and were nominated three more times for “Mr. Show.” Did you go every time?

I go every time I’m invited to the Emmys. Now I go for different reasons, I go to see my friends and see people you don’t see very often. I go to spend the evening with my wife, who’s a manager and very often has clients up for Emmys. There were one or two years I went when I wasn’t up for an Emmy, she had a client up. Sometimes I’ve gone to be with her. I will always go, cause it’s a great event. I love seeing people and having a laugh. The writers from all the shows in New York are out. Wandering around the Governors Ball is one of the great things in your year here in LA.

Several years later you were part of the cast when “Breaking Bad” won back-to-back Emmys for drama series.

We were riding such a wave of attention and excitement. It was yet another high in two years of incredible focus and attention and celebration for that show. I feel like I was a hanger on — holding onto the coattails on that show and enjoying the ride the whole way. I think it was a bigger feeling of achievement for the core cast of that show than for me.

How does going to the Emmys as a nominated actor compare to your first time as a writer?

It’s gonna be hard to ever beat the excitement of the first time of being a part of the Emmy awards because it was such a different world. Now that I’ve been there many times, it’s not as unique a moment. I’m of course wildly honored to be included. More than anybody, the old adage is true for me that just being nominated is a win. I don’t come from the world of dramatic acting. For once I’m feeling like an interloper, and I really am.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix has drops the first trailer for “The Politician,” and “Killing Eve” adds two to its cast for season 3.  CASTING Harriet Walter and Danny Sapani, both alums of “The Crown,” are set to join the cast of “Killing Eve” for its third season. British writer Suzanne Heathcote, whose past credits include [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • Disneyland

    Disney Shares Slip Amid Reported Whistleblower Allegations of Inflated Revenue

    Sandra Kuba, a former senior financial analyst for Disney’s revenue operations unit, says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that the entertainment conglomerate repeatedly and systematically overstated its revenue for years, according to a MarketWatch report, by as much as $6 billion in a single [...]

  • Bob Bakish Joe Ianniello

    ViacomCBS Sets Board Members; Bob Bakish, Joe Ianniello New Deals Disclosed

    ViacomCBS has unveiled the 13 members of its board of directors and details of new employment contracts for president-CEO Bob Bakish and CBS chairman-CEO Joe Ianniello. The disclosure came Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, six days after Viacom and CBS at long last set an all-stock merger agreement valued at [...]

  • Carrie Underwood, left, and Reba McEntire

    CMAs Make Hosting Change: Brad Paisley Exits, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire Are In

    The CMA Awards have had the most consistent hosting situation of any music awards show in television, but 11 years after installing Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood as the reliable faces of the telecast, even ABC and the Country Music Association have decided it’s time for a switch. Come Nov. 13, Underwood will return for [...]

  • Ava Max iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Portraits,

    Megan Thee Stallion, CNCO, Ava Max to Perform at VMAs Pre-show

    CNCO, Megan Thee Stallion and “Sweet but Psycho” singer Ava Max (pictured) have been added to the performer lineup at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The three will take the stage during the VMAs’ red carpet pre-show, hosted by Terrence J and Nessa. Zara Larsson will join the two hosts as a special correspondent. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content