‘Saturday Night Live’: Bowen Yang could finally win Emmy thanks to George Santos

Bowen Yang is a three-time Emmy nominee for “Saturday Night Live”: twice in Best Comedy Supporting Actor (2021 and ’22) and once in Best Variety Writing (2019). However, he has yet to claim a golden statue for NBC’s flagship sketch comedy series. That could all change this year, thanks in part to his recurring performance as controversial New York Representative George Santos.

Yang first donned Santos’ trademark black-rimmed glasses and dark suit-and-sweater-vest combo during the January 21 episode hosted by Aubrey Plaza. That’s when he joined Colin Jost and Michael Che at the “SNL” Weekend Update desk to poke fun at the newly elected Republican’s alleged penchant for lying, which was dominating the political world at the time (watch below).

Disputing claims that he lied about being Jewish, Yang-as-Santos got big laughs when he remarked, “No, I said I was Jew-ish, which is honestly icon-ic.” He calmly explained, “I said that because my grandparents were in the Holocaust. Yeah, they actually knew Anne Frank. My ancestors were the ones that told her, ‘You should be writing this down.'”

The actor later took a fake call from Madonna — first on a phone and later on a Covid test — and told her, “‘Like a Virgin’? I remember, I was there, I was the virgin.” Yang’s version of Santos also claimed to really be Balloon Boy — totally random, yet totally hilarious. And as for why the Republican leadership wouldn’t condemn him, he revealed, “I’m a team player, and the sport is lies. At least mine are fun.”

SEE Emmys spotlight: Bowen Yang (‘Fire Island’) is hilarious, heartbreaking and deserving of recognition

Yang has appeared in two more sketches as Santos, indicating his sheer popularity with audiences. In the first sketch, he masqueraded as a football commentator who reported live from the Super Bowl and was the “first African-American quarterback to ever dunk a football.” He briefly disappeared and then returned as drag queen persona “Kitara Ravache.” In the second sketch, Yang’s impersonation pretended to be Tom Cruise at the Oscars, the star of “Top Gun 2: Top Bottom,” until he was called out as Santos by the red carpet reporters.

At last year’s Emmys, only two “Saturday Night Live” supporting players reaped nominations: Yang and Kate McKinnon. That number was actually down from five in 2021, when those two plus Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong all received bids as regulars. With McKinnon having left last year, the pressure falls on Yang to continue his nomination streak. And according to Gold Derby’s odds, he has nothing to worry about.

Emmy voters clearly love when “SNL” stars recur as popular political figures. Tina Fey (as Sarah Palin), Maya Rudolph (as Kamala Harris), Kate McKinnon (as Hillary Clinton) and Alec Baldwin (as Donald Trump) have all prevailed in recent years. Will Bowen Yang (as George Santos) joined them in the Emmy winner’s circle? Note that the scene-stealer could actually win two trophies this year, as he’s also garnering awards buzz for his supporting role in Hulu’s TV movie “Fire Island.”

PREDICT the 2023 Emmy nominees through July 12

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