Issa Rae could win her first Emmys for ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ … if she can get past ‘SNL’

Issa Rae picked up four Emmy nominations in the last three years as an actress and producer, and even though her star-making series “Insecure” was off this year, she has a couple more chances for recognition thanks to the variety series she produces, “A Black Lady Sketch Show.” But winning her first Emmys will mean getting past “Saturday Night Live.”

“A Black Lady Sketch Show” earned a nomination in 2020 for Best Variety Sketch Series, while Angela Bassett received a bid for Best Comedy Guest Actress, a rarity for a non-“SNL” sketch series. This year there will be only two nomination slots available for Best Variety Sketch Series due to the limited number of submitted programs, but “Black Lady” is expected to get one of them according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users, and while “SNL” is the heavy favorite to win there (it has won for the last four years in a row), as of this writing one of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed, Tim Gray (Variety), is currently betting that “Black Lady” will take the sketch title.

Rae is also a contender for Comedy Guest Actress, where Bassett was nominated last year. Rae entered the episode “My Booty Look Juicy, Don’t It?” in which she plays Jess, a Coral Reefs gang member on a corporate retreat. She ranks fourth in our overall odds with Maya Rudolph heavily favored to win for guest hosting “SNL.” Rudolph won last year for her recurring appearances as Kamala Harris during political sketches, but Tim Gray is betting there too that Rae will come out on top.

Are the rest of us underestimating “Black Lady Sketch Show” against NBC’s behemoth? “SNL” was felled by satirical sketch standouts “Inside Amy Schumer” in 2015 and “Key and Peele” in 2016. With only two nominees in the category, voters will have only one other option if they want a change of pace after years of “SNL” supremacy, which might benefit whichever show it’s nominated against (assuming “SNL” is one of the two shows that make the cut, of course). So do you agree with Gray that Rae has two paths to upset victories?

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