For only the third time in Emmy history three black actors are among the nominees for Best Comedy Supporting Actor: Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”). Should any of these funny men prevail they would become only the second black winner in the category after Robert Guillaume (“Soap”) prevailed in 1979.
The late Guillaume won on his first and only nomination for “Soap.” Three years later Ron Glass received his only nomination for “Barney Miller” (1982). Then Eddie Murphy made history as the first black cast member from “Saturday Night Live” nominated in 1983 (the category was known then as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Variety or Music Series). Malcolm-Jamal Warner earned a single nomination for his work on “The Cosby Show” in 1986. And Meshach Taylor also scored a single nomination for his work on “Designing Women” in 1989.
The category would then go two decades without a black nominee. Tracy Morgan (“30 Rock”) ended that drought when he scored his sole nomination in 2009. Emmy favorite Andre Braugher is best known for his work as a dramatic actor, but he switched to comedy with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and earned three consecutive nominations (2014-2016). And Keegan-Michael Key became the second sketch player to contend in this race with a pair of bids for “Key and Peele” (2015-2016).
With his fourth consecutive nomination (2015-2018), Burgess has already made history as the most nominated black actor in the category. His role on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was written specifically for him by the show’s creator Tina Fey. But the Broadway vet has yet to seal the deal with a win for his scene-stealing performance as Titus Andromedon.
Henry earned his first nomination last year (2017) for Best Drama Guest Actor for his work on “This Is Us.” Like Burgess he also has theater experience, appearing in “The Book of Mormon” (2011) and earning a Tony Award nomination for his featured role in the play “Lobby Hero” earlier this summer. His year only got better when Emmy nominations were announced and he earned his first nomination for his work as rapper Paper Boi, one of a whopping 16 bids “Atlanta” received overall this year.
Thompson has been perfecting the art of sketch comedy since appearing in Nickelodeon’s “All That” for six seasons (1994-2000). After that Thompson joined the cast of “SNL” and has been a regular cast member for 15 seasons (2003-2018), which makes him the longest tenured cast member in the show’s history. But if that was not enough Thompson is only the second black male regular cast member to earn an Emmy nomination for “SNL,” after Murphy.
According to our latest predictions, this trio of funnymen are currently trailing TV legend Henry Winkler (“Barry”), who leads the pack with odds of 2/3. Henry currently ranks third with odds of 15/2. Burgess is in fourth place with odds of 12/1. And Thompson is an underdog in seventh place with odds of 80/1.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.