TV Fanatic Emmy Preview: Lead Actor in a Comedy

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The 2011 Emmy Awards will be hosted by Jane Lynch and air on September 18. Over the weeks leading up to the event, staff writer Dan Forcella will watch every episode submitted by various actors in various categories and present to you his analysis on each contender.

It's the TV Fanatic Emmy Submission Mission, readers, and it starts with Lead Actor in a Comedy...

  • Question from Michael
  • Leonard and Priya in the Shower
  • A Request for Penny
  • Jack Donaghy Pic
  • Doing Stand-Up

Let’s start with the man that seemingly has no chance in the category, Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory. We were all stunned when he was nominated, and the fact that he is up against someone from his own show that is much funnier than him? Not helping his cause. 

In his submission episode, “The Benefactor Factor,” Galecki is outdone by Jim Parsons, who should benefit greatly from having a fellow Big Banger in the field. Galecki, in addition to looking bland compared to Parsons, is just too much of a straight man to warrant a victory. While he had a couple of funny quips in this outing, he was downright boring in his own ep.

Let’s stay with the CBS series, as we move on to the returning champion, Parsons. I have never been a fan of TBBT. I watched the pilot, as well as the season two and three premieres, in order to give it a shot, but it's just not for me. That should make the fact that I am putting Parsons as my runner-up even more of a statement. 

He is definitely funny, and the fact that he has two episodes to work from this year worries me that he has a really good shot at repeating. He may have actually been better in Galecki’s submission, but he still has a ton of material to work with in his “The Agreement Dissection." He just dominates the half hour.

I'm predicting Parsons to just lose out to Steve Carell of The Office, who will win his first ever Emmy for his final season on the series. There have been many people who have ridiculously jumped off The Office bandwagon as of late, but even those individuals can’t deny how good Carell was in his submission episode, “Goodbye Michael.” 

He was funny. He was mean. He was sweet. And he was definitely emotional, as he shed a few tears on a number of occasions over the 35-minute episode. That 35 minutes of running time almost makes up the amount of time Parsons has from his two episodes of Big Bang, which makes me feel better about Carell’s chances. And, again, you cannot forget about the fond farewell factor, or the making up for lost time factor, both of which favor Carell at this time.

The other man that everyone seems to think is still in the conversation is 2008 and 2009 winner Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock. I might have agreed with them if he had submitted “100” like everyone was expecting, but instead he submitted the season finale, “Respawn.” Personally, I like the selfless move by Baldwin. 

Sending in the less adequate performance so that Carell can finally take home the trophy is definitely the classy move. I don’t actually believe that is what happened, but Baldwin really does not do much in “Respawn.” He's hardly on screen, with Jack just pretending Kenneth is his wife the entire time. He didn’t show any variety in his performance, and the one note that he was playing wasn’t all that funny. I don’t think he has a chance with this submission.

Finally, we come to two guys that probably have less of a chance than Baldwin, Matt LeBlanc of Episodes and Louis C.K. of Louie. The deterrent is that neither of them does all that much acting in their respective shows. Both are playing versions of themselves, which has never worked for Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm. C.K. has an edge over LeBlanc in that he is in almost every second of his episode “Bully,” but LeBlanc benefits from actually being funny on occasion in his “Episode Seven.”

I have struggled through every episode of Louie, and unlike most critics, have not managed to enjoy it all that much. Like most of the episodes, C.K. does a couple sequences of his standup routine during “Bully,” which allows him to be funny, but in this episode it just came off as disturbing. That can be funny, yes, but in this case it just seemed... disturbing. 

LeBlanc, on the other hand, I do find extremely humorous at times, but the British actor and actress that play alongside him in Episodes both have much more time on screen, and much better material with which to work. At the end of the day, I don’t think either one has a chance at taking down Carell or Parsons.

My final standings:

  1. Steve Carell – The Office
  2. Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
  3. Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock
  4. Matt LeBlanc – Episodes
  5. Louis C.K. – Louie
  6. Johnny Galecki – The Big Bang Theory

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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