Six-time Emmy champ Billy Crystal now has the perfect episode that could win him his seventh trophy. The recently-aired “Billy’s Birthday” segment of “The Comedians” has that perfect mixture of empathy, comedy, range, impact, and screentime that appeals to Emmy voters.
This FX program that premiered in April already has an in with TV academy members of all ages as it’s about a veteran comedy legend (Crystal) and a rising young star (Josh Gad) battling over their new TV variety series. It’s similar in style to both “30 Rock” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and makes fun of the entertainment industry, as did other Emmy favorites such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Murphy Brown,” “Seinfeld,” and “Frasier.”
“Billy’s Birthday” is the seventh episode of this first season and aired on May 21. It opens with Crystal being very reflective and somewhat down in the dumps as his 67th birthday arrives. Although they often have an antagonistic relationship, Gad wants to spend the day with him to celebrate.
They take a road trip and make a sudden stop at one of Crystal’s favorite places: the very tall set of steps in Hollywood where Laurel and Hardy shot the Oscar-winning short “The Music Box” in 1932. Crystal gives Gad a history lesson in comedy and about why that movie was so funny and memorable.
They also get a palm reading in Little Tokyo, sing karaoke, and end up in a house full of 20-somethings doing stand-up comedy. It takes Crystal back to his early roots, even though he bombs in front of the youngsters who don’t relate to his style of comedy at all.
While walking and chatting early in the episode, Crystal talks about having been an orphan for many decades. He remembers when he was very young that his parents would put frosting on his nose, and his wish would be that they would all live forever.
That touching moment is revisited at the end of the episode when his wife (Dana Delany) surprises him at home after skipping out of a meeting. She has a large cupcake to help him celebrate, and they each put frosting on the nose of the other. All of these elements combined together should play very well to middle-aged and older Emmy voters.
Crystal is a respected industry comedian and actor who has hosted the Academy Awards nine times. From his 23 career nominations, four of his six Emmy wins have been for his work on the Oscars as a writer and performer (1991 twice, 1992, 1998). His other two victories came for hosting the Grammy Awards (1989) and for writing the comedy special “Midnight Train to Moscow” (1990). He could be nominated this year for acting, producing, and writing on “The Comedians.”
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