In the Emmy race for Best Comedy Supporting Actor, when they like you, they really like you. Eight men have won this award three or more times, and Tony Hale (“Veep”) could join that club this year. He has won twice before (2013, 2015) and is nominated for the fourth straight time. And according to the Expert TV journalists we’ve polled, he’s likely to win again, but it looks like a very close race.
Eight out of 18 experts are predicting Hale, giving him a narrow lead with 11/8 odds: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Lynn Elber (Associated Press), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Ken Tucker (Yahoo) and Adnan Virk (ESPN). Hale submitted to Emmy judges the episode “Inauguration,” in which his character, presidential aide Gary Walsh, furiously berates his fellow staffers and then comforts the president after Congress votes her out of office.
Louie Anderson (“Baskets”) is a very close second with 17/10 odds, based on support from seven experts: Michael Ausiello (TV Line), Robert Bianco (USA Today), Eric Deggans (NPR), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Robert Rorke (New York Post) and Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine).
This is Anderson’s first Primetime Emmy nomination despite a long career in TV and comedy, but he did win two Daytime Emmys (1997-1998) for his voice-over work in his animated series “Life with Louie.” In “Baskets” Anderson plays Christine, the mother of twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets, and in his episode submission, “Easter in Bakersfield,” Christine takes her son to church but then is publicly shamed and humiliated by her own mother.
Three experts are predicting Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), placing him third with 5/1 odds: Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed). This is Burgess’s second nomination for playing aspiring actor Titus Andromedon, and he submitted the episode “Kimmy Gives Up!” in which Titus sings show tunes out of joy for his new relationship, then reveals his fear that the relationship may one day end.
None of our experts are predicting the remaining four nominees in this category. Ranked fourth with 80/1 odds is Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), who has won this category twice (2011, 2014) and is nominated for the seventh time for his role as Phil Dunphy, a real estate agent and father of three. In his episode submission, “The Party,” Phil gets stoned with his brother-in-law but then must investigate when it looks like his son is secretly throwing a party at their house.
The remaining nominees all get 100/1 odds. Keegan-Michael Key (“Key and Peele”) is the only sketch comedian in the race this year. This is his second nomination in this category, but he has picked up a remarkable 10 nominations in the last three years. He’s still awaiting his first victory, however, and he’s hoping to get the job done with the episode “Y’all Ready for This,” in which he plays various characters including a feminist pirate, a vigilante plane passenger, a racist white cop and Barack Obama‘s anger translator.
Emmy-darling Andre Braugher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) is nominated for the third time for playing Captain Ray Holt. Overall Braugher is a 10-time nominee and a two-time winner, though he has never prevailed for a comedy performance. He submitted the episode “The Oolong Slayer,” in which Holt is enlisted to help track down a serial killer.
Rounding out the category is another actor from “Veep,” Matt Walsh, who is nominated for the first time for his role as press secretary Mike McLintock. Playing the press secretary helped Allison Janney win four Emmys for “The West Wing,” but Walsh is an underdog in this race. He submitted the episode “Kissing Your Sister,” in which Mike participates in a documentary film project by the first daughter while navigating the process of adopting a child from China.
Gold Derby’s Editors, who cover awards year-round, agree it’s a tight race. Four out of seven of us are predicting a repeat victory for Hale: O’Neil, Sheehan, Chris Beachum and myself. Marcus James Dixon and Rob Licuria say it will be Anderson, while Matt Noble thinks Walsh will pull off an upset.
Our Top 24 Users, who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Emmys, are sharply divided: 13 pick Hale, 10 are backing Burgess, and one says it will be Anderson.
Our All-Star Top 24, who got the highest scores when you combine predictions from the last two years, show slightly more agreement, but they still indicate a close race: 13 predict Hale, seven say Burgess and one says Anderson.
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