Emmy episode analysis: Lin-Manuel Miranda (‘SNL’) shows off insane musical talent as host

Lin-Manuel Miranda earned his second Emmy nomination this year for his hosted episode of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” The multi-talented Broadway favorite is nominated in the Best Comedy Guest Actor category, where he faces tough competition from his fellow “SNL” hosts Dave Chappelle and Tom Hanks, as well as “Girls” guests Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys, and Hugh Laurie for “Veep.”

Miranda is already an Emmy winner, having taken home the trophy in 2014 for Best Music and Lyrics for co-writing the opening number of the 2013 Tony Awards. So the pressure to win this year may be off since he already has a trophy on his mantel, but this is still his first Emmy nomination for acting, and he is competing against some major talent.

Hosting the second episode of “SNL’s” 42nd season, Miranda shows off his musical virtuosity in the opening monologue with a parody of “My Shot” from his musical, “Hamilton.” He gets to sing in many other sketches, including in a campground scene, digital short “Crucible Cast Party,” and a parody of “The Music Man.” The episode also includes Miranda doing an impression of Dustin in a “Stranger Things” spoof, portraying an inspirational substitute teacher, and playing an immigrant calling his mom.

So does Miranda have the goods to win the Emmy for Best Comedy Guest Actor?


A major pro in Miranda’s favor is his opening monologue. His parody of “My Shot” is so excellently performed that it is immediately clear why Emmy voters nominated him. The monologue includes Miranda paying tribute to “SNL’s” hallowed halls and features a very memorable line where he almost raps an explicit lyric about Donald Trump. As a Broadway performer, Miranda is very comfortable showing off his talent in a live setting, and he takes what is surely an intimidating format for other hosts and makes it look easy.

There is also a huge amount of respect for Miranda in show business. The multi-hyphenate has truly broken out of the Broadway bubble due to the insane success of “Hamilton” and has become one of the more celebrated artists working today. Goodwill toward him could help carry him over the top to a victory.


Despite the quality of Miranda’s performance as a host, the overall material is less memorable than it was for fellow nominees Chappelle and Hanks in their respective episodes. Miranda gives it his all, but sketches like “Substitute Teacher,” “WWII Scene,” and “Stranger Things” didn’t achieve the same kind of enduring viral success as the other two “SNL” hosts’ sketches. Water-cooler buzz for Miranda’s show was not as strong, and that could hurt his chances.

Miranda is also not as broadly funny as others in this category. In addition to Chappelle and Hanks, “Veep” guest star Laurie is going for more overt humor, while Miranda doesn’t get many huge laugh lines outside of his opening monologue. However, Peter Scolari’s win for “Girls” last year and Bradley Whitford’s win for “Transparent” the year before show that voters aren’t always looking for slapstick, so we are not throwing away Miranda’s shot just yet.

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