Open Mic

Funny Thing About the Emmy Nominees for Comedy Actress

Hillary Atkin Posted July 17, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Tags: actress, comedy, Emmy Awards, lead

They may know she was "F-ing Matt Damon," but Emmy voters may not know that much else about the surprise entrant into the exclusive club of the funniest women on television. Sarah Silverman nabbed one of the now six coveted slots in the lead actress in a comedy series race – a spot that  many people predicted would be filled by another comedienne with her own cable show, Tracey Ullman.

Silverman's brand of edgy comedy, bringing her sex and Jewishness to the fore in a way many people find offensive, is shaking up the contest -- with the other spots being occupied by acclaimed actresses in more traditional shows who are veterans of the awards-show circuit and owners of many trophies.

Julia Louis Dreyfus, Mary Louise Parker and Tina Fey have all been here before (and I've had the pleasure of interviewing all of them, as well as their fellow nominee Christina Applegate), and they all deserve to be this time, joined by Toni Collette, whose star turn as a mom with multiple personalities in Showtime's “The United States of Tara” obviously turned Emmy voters’ heads.

Fey will be riding the tidal wave not only of "30 Rock's" record-breaking 22 nominations, but of her win last year in this category. Not only did her character Liz Lemon get a new love interest this year, (the also-nominated Jon Hamm) but Emmy voters are clearly still madly in love with her. And of course, her buzz from this season was massively intensified by her deft and hysterical portrayal of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live” through the fall, which drew critical raves and huge numbers of viewers -- and will probably contribute to "SNL" winning the comedy/variety series category against the hosted shows of Letterman, Colbert, Stewart and Maher.

Was it all part of a master plan by Ms. Fey, who as well as taking home the statuette for lead actress in a comedy series last year also grabbed Emmys as a producer and writer of "30 Rock?"

Tina Fey is ruling the world right now, and we’re just living in it.

 But the competition is stiff, stiff, stiff. The Emmys love JLD and MLP, and Ms. Applegate may draw a large sympathy vote, both for “Samantha Who?” being shown the door and for her high-profile battle with breast cancer.

Even Silverman might have trouble coming up with some jokes about that.