At the 1997 Emmys, Tracey Ullman pulled off an upset when her show “Tracey Takes On” won Best Variety Series over three past champs — “Dennis Miller Live,” “Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” — as well as perennial nominee “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.” At the podium, she declared, “I beat the boys! I beat the boys!”
Three years ago, the variety category was split into sketch and talk. While Amy Schumer won the inaugural sketch prize for “Inside Amy Schumer” no woman has even contended on the talk side till this year’s bid by “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”
Samantha Bee has been on a roll following the election as she skewers President Donald Trump on a weekly basis. As of this writing, Gold Derby’s exclusive odds have “Full Frontal” in second place at 3/1 behind reigning champ “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” with leading odds of 4/5.
One of the reasons that Ullman’s win was such a surprise is that the old combined category loved to honor the same show repeatedly: “Late Show with David Letterman” won five in a row (1998-2002); “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” kept a stranglehold on the category winning 10 years consecutively (2003-2012) and “The Colbert Report” won two years running (2013-2014).
And while Bee’s show reaped a bid for writing so did Oliver’s, which also contends for directing, editing (twice), sound mixing, technical direction and interactive program. Indeed, its eight nominations outpace the likes of “Atlanta” and “House of Cards” which have six apiece.
However, even if Bee is bested by Oliver in this race, she does have another chance to win an Emmy this year. When Trump skipped the annual White House correspondents’ dinner in the spring, she threw her own version, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” which reaped a bid for Best Variety Special.
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