The Emmy race for Best Comedy Actor is no laughing matter.
Thirteen Experts polled by Gold Derby are split between two nominees: eight opt for Louis C.K. (#"Louie#") and five for Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), who won the previous two years. See how each Expert ranks the contenders, plus view their racetrack odds.
However, Gold Derby's 10 Editors see it as a three-way race: four choose Louis C.K., three pick Parsons and three forecast an upset by Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"). See how their predix break down here, and view their collective rankings plus racetrack odds.
Who will really pull off a win? Are Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Don Cheadle ("House of Lies") and Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men") in the running? Below, a breakdown of the race based upon the episodes they submitted to Emmy judges as an example of their best work from the past TV season.
Alec Baldwin - "30 Rock" ("Live from Studio 6H")
Pro: In his submission, Baldwin gets the chance to play many different characters, including some famous ones. The characters include, a cigarette smoking television host, a gay man featured on a famous television series, and his usual laugh-inducing character Jack Donaghy.
Con: Baldwin hasn't won this award since 2009, and the Emmys have shown once they stop rewarding you, it's hard to come back with another win, especially with this category.
Louis C.K. - "Louie" ("Duckling")
Pro: Time. The episode is an hour long, which gives C.K. 30 more minutes of screentime than the rest of the nominees in this category. It's a heartwarming episode which was inspired by C.K.'s 6 year old daughter. And it's a political episode, where C.K. goes on his first ever USO tour; this has been a huge political year for the Emmys, with many of the projected winners playing political characters. This is C.K.'s second nomination, and the previous two winners of this category (Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons) both lost on their first nomination, then won on their second and third. Could C.K. continue and make this a trend for this category?
Con: C.K. plays himself in this series. No actor in the history of this category has ever won this award for playing themselves.
Don Cheadle - "House of Lies" ("Gods of Dangerous Financial Institutions")
Pro: "House of Lies" airs on Showtime, which has done well winning its leading funny ladies Emmys. Will they have the same luck in the Comedy Actor category? Cheadle submitted the pilot episode of the series, a strategy which has been key to Emmy wins in previous years.
Con: The pilot received many negative reviews from critics. This is Cheadle's first nomination for this role; since 1996, only three actors have won this category on their first try (John Lithgow, Tony Shalhoub, and Ricky Gervais).
Jon Cryer - "Two and a Half Men" ("Frodo's Headshots")
Pro: Baity episode. Shortly after getting out of a "stress clinic", Alan's life begins to immediately turn upside down. First, it's revealed that his teenage son has gotten his girlfriend pregnant. Then, he finds out he owes the IRS $80,000. Next, he finds that his girlfriend is now in a relationship with his friend Walden, who then kicks him out. He is then confronted by his ex-wife's new husband, after it is revealed that Alan is the actual father of their daughter. All of this gives Cryer some baity material, including one scene where he acts like a complete maniac.
Con: Cryer is a newcomer to this category, after contending in supporting for six years.
Larry David - "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken")
Pro: Many people regard this episode as one of his best performances ever. He has yet to win despite five nominations.
Con: David plays himself in this series, and no actor has ever won this award for doing so.
Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory ("The Werewolf Transformation")
Pro: Parsons is a totally different character than usual once Sheldon does not get his hair cut by his usual barber, who is in the hospital in the coma. The episode provides a lot of laughs, and episodes where the nominee plays out of character have proven to be winners.
Con: No one has won this award 3 consecutive years in a row since Michael J. Fox in 1986, 1987, and 1988. Unlike in his previous nominations, Parsons does not have the buzz. However, last year he beat Steve Carell, who was heavily favored to win for the final season of "The Office."