Question: For a dollar, how many times will the Emmys nominate Billy Eichner this year?
The creator and star of “Billy on the Street” roams the streets of New York City jamming a microphone in the faces of passers-by and badgering them to drop what they’re doing and answer crazy questions. For example, in the regular segment called “for a dollar,” he wields a crumpled one dollar note in his hand as he enthusiastically yells questions that chosen strangers must answer in exchange for the not-so-grand prize of a dollar.
Other hysterically random games he plays in his endearingly enthusiastic way include “quizzed in the face” (a more traditional round of questions, many of which skewer celebrities and other bizarre pop culture oddities) and other interactions with complete strangers including “missing testicle or extraterrestrial,” “would this disappoint Bill Cosby?” and “Steve Harvey or Harvey Milk?”
The series is produced by Funny or Die, which was founded by “SNL” alum Will Ferrell, Oscar-nominated helmer Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) and writer/producer Chris Henchy (“Eastbound and Down”). It aired on digital channel Fuse for three seasons before moving to truTV (formerly known as Court TV) last year.
In 2013, Eichner was nominated for a Daytime Emmy as Best Game Show Host; he lost to Ben Bailey for Discovery Channel’s “Ca$h Cab.” Last year “Billy on the Street” picked up its first Primetime Emmy nomination for Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program, which was won by Funny or Die stablemate “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.” With the expansion of the show to a full half-hour, it will now contend in the Variety Series (Sketch) category.
Eichner might also be invited to the Primetime Emmys this year as a nominee in the Best Comedy Actor category for his role on “Difficult People.” He plays the sarcastic Billy Epstein opposite creator and executive producer Julie Klausner as Julie Kessler. The pair are aspiring comedians, self-absorbed and politically incorrect best friends who “hate everybody equally.”
It premiered last August to raves from some of the nation’s top TV critics, scoring an impressive 85% at Rotten Tomatoes. Among those singing its praise was Melissa Maerz (Entertainment Weekly) who observed, “At a time when the world is overrun with Twitter-infatuated part-time comedians, this portrait of fame-thirsty New Yorkers is spot-on, and often very funny. They could be this generation’s Will and Grace.”
Besides Klausner, the other executive producers of “Difficult People” are Emmy magnets Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”), Dave Becky (“Louie”) and showrunner Scott King (“MADtv”). It streams on Hulu which is well-poised to break through at the Emmys this year with original programming including the drama series “The Path” (starring three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul and Emmy nominee Hugh Dancy), the limited series “11.22.63” and two other laffers — “The Mindy Project” and “Casual” (which garnered Hulu’s first-ever Golden Globe nomination earlier this year for Best Comedy Series).