Open Mic

Handicapping the Emmy Race for Best Comedy

Hillary Atkin Posted September 18, 2009 at 5:21 AM

Right out of the gate of its debut 2006-07 season, “30 Rock” grabbed the Emmy for outstanding comedy series, and then took home the trophy again last year. All indicators this year point to the sitcom about a sketch comedy show maintaining its tight grip on the golden statuette.

“’30 Rock’ still seems to be the preeminent critical and industry favorite, and is seen as a hip and hot comedy,” says TV Guide critic Matt Roush. “There’s nothing that’s come along to dethrone it.”

According to betting men like’s CEO Mickey Richardson, “Rock” has a whopping 75% chance of again taking the top comedy prize at the Emmys. (See table below for his odds on all the nominated shows.)

“This is ‘30 Rock’s’ time, and it continues to set the pace,” says media reporter Brian Stelter of The New York Times.” What’s heartening about ‘30 Rock’ is that more viewers are discovering it, and that patience is paying off for NBC—although ratings-wise, it’s never going to be ‘Two and a Half Men.’” (Which didn’t get a nod this year, but did in 2006, ‘07 and ’08.)

These are the other nominees:
Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
How I Met Your Mother
The Office

So it’s three cable series versus three network programs: score two for HBO, two for NBC, one for Fox and one for Showtime. Young Hollywood Turks up against slacker musicians, young professionals, office workers, TV show staffers, pot dealers—and cartoon characters, the Griffin family.

“Family Guy” has been on the air for 10 years now and was nominated for outstanding animated series in 2000, ‘05, ’06 and ‘08. It’s the first time an animated series has been recognized in this category since "The Flintstones" made the cut in 1961.

“Entourage,” which earlier this year took home a prestigious Peabody Award, is still on the hot list for Emmy voters, but its heat may be waning. “The thing with long-running shows is you never know when their time in the Emmy lottery is going to come up,” says Roush about HBO’s half-hour series and “The Office,” which took home the outstanding comedy statuette in 2006 before it lost its perch at the top to another NBC series. Yet most critics agree the Dunder-Mifflin bunch had a very strong year.

Another HBO series, "Flight of the Conchords” picked up steam in the second season. “It is one of very few shows during which I actually laughed out loud,” says Dave Walker, television columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“I thought it was goofy, inventive and unlike anything else anywhere, with a deep and wide cast. The supporting and guest stars were really funny. It’s broken through and reached a lot of people who found it through word of mouth. They’re blown away by it.”

“Weeds” is more of a dark comedy than a full-on laugh fest, but the series, which recently wrapped its fifth season, has a rabid fan base that eats up the exploits of Mary-Louise Parker and crew in and about their suburban milieu.

It’s "HIMYM’s" first Emmy nomination, meaning the CBS sitcom is finallly hitting its stride with awards voters, and Emmy host and the show’s star Neil Patrick Harris will have butterflies in his stomach when the winner is announced.

If “Mother” or any of the other entrants takes the prize from “Rock,” it will be quite the shock.

30 ROCK                                              (75%)
THE OFFICE                                        (28%)
FAMILY GUY                                        (22%)
WEEDS                                                (20%)
ENTOURAGE                                       (18%)
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER               (18%)