Emmy episode analysis: Bill Hader reprises memorable ‘Saturday Night Live’ characters as first-time host

Bill Hader reaped Comedy Supporting Actor bids in 2012 and 2013 for the final two of his eight seasons on “Saturday Night Live.” In October 2014, he returned to host “SNL” for the first time and was nominated for Best Comedy Guest Actor. Back in 2009, he won the first of his three Best Animated Program nominations for producing “South Park.” Will he win a performance prize to go along with that this year? 

Click here to see the updated list of all 2015 Emmy episode submissions

Hader’s episode was the third of the landmark fortieth season and features Hozier as musical guest. Hader sings in his opening monologue, does an impression of Al Pacino and appears in parodies of “The Hunger Games”, “The Cat in the Hat”, a help fund commercial and a public access program. He also reprises characters that he previously played on “Saturday Night Live”: Weekend Update correspondent Stefon, elderly reporter Herb Welch and puppeteer Anthony Peter Coleman.

At sixty-five minutes, Hader’s submission is three times longer than the category standard, giving him time to play eight characters and display plenty of comedic range.

Hader lost for playing the same characters in the supporting category, but he was hurt by disappearing from stretches of his submissions; he is front and centre throughout now.

“Saturday Night Live” hosts have won this category four times since becoming eligible to contend here in 2009. 

Hader is on a career upswing, with major roles in current critical and box office hits “Inside Out” and “Trainwreck”, so this is a great time to recognize his collective contributions.

“Saturday Night Live” is not the juggernaut that it once was as evidence by being snubbed in the writing and directing races for the first time in a decade.

The new voting system this year places less emphasis on episode submissions and more on general popularity, so his performance might not be enough to propel him ahead of a big name like Mel Brooks (“The Comedians”) or a competitor who represents a hotter show such as Bradley Whitford (“Transparent”).

Hader’s most famous character is Stefon. Part of his charm comes from Hader’s inability to deliver lines without breaking character. Although delightful to Stefon fans, it risks alienating new viewers who may be averse to awarding a performance that is seemingly amateurish.

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Photo: Bill Hader on “Saturday Night Live” Credit: NBC

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