Every year, stand-up specials generally have two chances to take home a prestigious Emmy Award. The two categories are not exclusive to stand-up -they are Outstanding Variety Special (pre-recorded) and Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special. But nevertheless, the two categories have been dominated by mostly comedians for the last handful of years.
Instead of offering who we predict will be nominated for Emmy’s, we figured we’d take a look at who should be nominated this year.
Bo Burnham: Inside
Calling Inside a “comedy special” never seemed to be the best fit, so it actually may make more sense to classify it as a variety special to begin with. Released the day before the deadline for Emmy Award submissions, Inside is the culmination of Bo Burnham spending the year trying to create some new content, all to distract from what is going on in the world. And during the course of the special, you can actually see his own mental health taking a toll as a result. It’s as fascinating a character study on an artist trying to create as it is a comedy special. And given its popularity and acclaim, we would be a but shocked if it didn’t get nominated.
Dave Chappelle: 8:46
Here’s another case of a comedian tackling social issues in a special that floats between being funny and being poignant. After the death of George Floyd last May, Chappelle took to the field in Ohio where he had been doing socially distanced comedy shows and did a brilliant 27 minute set on the death of Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement all over the world. Seeing as how Chappelle took home both awards he was nominated for last year for 2019’s Sticks & Stones, it stands to reason that he’d also have a pretty good shot this year. At the very least, the only thing that may keep him from being nominated is the shorter running time (though we aren’t aware of any official rules prohibiting it for this category).
Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American
This may be a long shot, but it’s a special we definitely think is worth nominating. Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American is our favorite traditional stand-up special in front of a live audience that tackles what life is like post-COVID. And while Bargatze doesn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about the pandemic itself, he does talk about things such as homeschooling his kids. And while the constant planes flying overhead remind you that it was filmed outdoors, the special is still classic Bargatze and he manages to kill it in spite of the less-than normal conditions that went into making it. There’s also been a lot of praise and great word of mouth surrounding Bargatze’s special this year, which should only work out in his favor with the Emmy’s.
Michelle Buteau: Welcome To Buteaupia
For anyone who had any doubt of how strong Michelle Buteau’s debut Netflix special was, perhaps her tie with Jerry Seinfeld for the People’s Choice Awards will speak volumes. Buteau came out of the gate swinging in Michelle Buteau: Welcome To Buteaupia, walking out onto the stage with a goblet in hand, letting you know right off the bat who is in charge of the party. In the special, she talks about life has changed after having twins, how her personality differs from her husband’s, filming a movie with J-Lo, and her dream of playing Meghan Markle on The Crown. We feel like the Emmy’s will have a hard time ignoring Buteau’s presence this time around.
Beth Stelling: Girl Daddy
Ever since the nomination period began for this year’s Emmy Awards, Beth Stelling has hit the ground running on her Instagram page, doing whatever she can to remind people about her debut special on HBO Max from last year, Girl Daddy. The grass roots campaign trail has included fan-made merchandise and various posters and billboards promoting Stelling all throughout the country. But beyond that, Stelling is definitely deserving, as her special managed to become a clear standout in a pretty crowded year for comedy specials. In the special, she talks about men buying condoms versus women buying condoms, getting laid with another man’s name tattooed on her, struggles with her weight, and choosing penis as a superpower. We’re hoping her campaigning works out in her favor. Come on, Emmy’s. Listen to the people. Let’s make this happen!
Jim Gaffigan: The Pale Tourist
Jim Gaffigan managed to come out with not just one special last year, but a series of specials that shows just how likable the comic can be in other areas of the world. For the specials, he travels to Toronto and Barcelona, and manages to deliver an hour of comedy based around their cultures, and yes, that does include their signature foods (poutine and paella, respectively). Gaffigan has long been popular with audiences and critics alike and has managed to become one of the hardest working comics in the game today. But surprisingly, he has never been nominated for an Emmy for any of his specials. Maybe 2021 is the year when that will all change.
Jim Jeffries: Intolerant
Between his gun control bit going viral and the popular Comedy Central series The Jim Jeffries Show, Jeffries has carved a place for himself among the biggest comics out there today. And last year’s special, Intolerant, proves that is still the case. In the special, he deals with his father’s “acceptance” of gay people, makes a point about fat shaming in regards to his mother’s death, and his choice to eat dairy despite being lactose intolerant. Jim Jeffries remains at the top of his game in the special, and we think an Emmy nomination would certainly not be out of the question here.
Lewis Black: Thank You For Risking Your Life
This special serves as sort of a time stamp on the pandemic. As Lewis Black took the stage on March 13th, 2020, he didn’t know that this would be his new special. But he just so happened to have cameras rolling on him as he performed one of the last stand-up comedy shows before the pandemic changed the industry as we knew it. And when you watch it now, the uncertainty of that moment in time makes the jokes and the comedy hit all the harder. Black has previously been nominated for his 2006 special, Red, White, and Screwed. We’d love to see Thank You For Risking Your Life up there as well this year.
Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning
Sam Jay is certainly having a moment, with her hit HBO late night show Pause with Sam Jay just getting renewed for a second season. But her first hour-long special that came out last year should not go unnoticed. In her hilarious debut special, she talks about her memories of living in Atlanta, the last dick she ever f*cked, gift exchanges with her significant other, taking shrooms at the British Museum, and thinking she was going to get abducted by aliens when she was 11. With all the heat surrounding Jay at the moment, we don’t see why it shouldn’t translate to a nomination.