They’re funny! They’re dramatic! They’re… well, supportive! But, as we know, a supporting actor can truly make a mark—and, in my opinion, these comedians have done that and then some. I mean, breakout characters like Titus Andromedon and Rogelio de la Vega mixed in with under-the-radar powerhouses like Tony Hale’s Gary?
This may not seem like an exciting category from the outside (half of it is probably going to Modern Family, right?), but there is some true, fresh talent in this category this year. Here are six I particularly enjoyed and would love to see recognized.
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Keeping up with the frenetic energy by Ellie Kemper’s Kimmy Schmidt is no small feat, but Tituss Burgess did it expertly. Burgess is a breakout in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, whose honed comedic timing is somehow blunt—then creeps up on you for a laugh later. One needn’t go far past his response to asking why Kimmy is so weird. “Well… I’m from Missouri—” “Oh! You should have just said so!” I’m going to have peeeeeeenoooooo noooooirrrr stuck in my head for years.
Jaime Camil, Jane the Virgin
Inhala. Exhala. There’s no subtle way to say this, but: Jaime Camil is a comedic genius. He took what could have been a very one-note, grating character and made him one of the most beloved characters on the entire television landscape right now. Has any other character on TV broken out like Camil’s Rogelio de la Vega this season? The emotion behind Camil’s always outlandish lines can break your gut—or break your heart. On a show like Jane the Virgin, Camil fits right perfectly, swinging the pendulum and stretching his acting muscle between absurdity and heart-warmth with absolute ease.
Tony Hale, Veep
Tony Hale’s exasperated bagman Gary on Veep is a sight to be seen. Has anybody made desperate this endearing? And also this hilarious? With Gary, Hale has hit his comedic stride. Acting opposite venerable Julia Louis-Dreyfus can be tough for any comedic actor, but Hale holds his own—often elevating scenes in the process. There’s no reason he won’t (and shouldn’t) get a nomination this year just for that Gary/Selina argument scene during this season. Whoo! What a scene!
Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation
Will Chris Pratt’s exploding film career and a final season of Parks and Recreation push for his Emmy nomination? Unlikely. And it’s a shame, because in many ways, Pratt was the only performer this year who wasn’t just going through the motions during the final season of the wonderful, little sitcom that could. Pratt brought that boyish charm in every episode, and was consistently funny while doing so. But it’s not like I have to tell any of you that!
Sam Waterston, Grace and Frankie
In my review of Grace and Frankie, I mentioned that I think, in some ways, it should have been titled Sol and Robert. A big reason for that is Sam Waterston. Waterston’s innate aloofness brought so much vulnerability and heartbreak to his character, Sol, that felt welcomingly out of place in a sitcom like Grace and Frankie. His performance makes the character completely believable, and added much-needed substance and connection that the series is missing.
Zach Woods, Silicon Valley
I know TJ Miller is the frontrunner in this category (and a Critics’ Choice winner), but Zach Woods is perhaps my favorite supporting performer on Silicon Valley. Last season, he won me over by somehow making “pivot” funnier than the famous Friends scene. This year, his idiosyncrasies continue to kill me (in the best way) week after week. Everyone on this show is so funny, they could probably all carry a show on their own—but I always love when Zach Woods is on-screen. The way he plays off everyone else is a delight to watch, to boot!
Honorable Mentions: I have to give it to Adam Pally, The Mindy Project. Mindy and Peter are one of my favorite platonic couple on all of television at the moment—and half of that is Pally. His energy fit right into the show!
Predictions: This is an interesting category in that I don’t think there are any real frontrunners. You have to suspect that a couple of Modern Family cast members are going to make an appearance. My guess is the trio: Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Eric Stonestreet. Then, I think Tony Hale is inevitable, and mostly likely Andre Baugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which I’ve yet to watch!). I feel as though Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are going to eat into each others’ votes, and the final spot will go to Tituss Burgess.
This is one in a series of Emmys posts this awards season. Check out the Emmys tag for more dream nominees and features.