The TV Czar’s Emmy Ballot: Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

A lot of categories make for tough balloting because of the massive range of actors or actresses available to fill out the six slots open for nominations. Unfortunately, the supporting actor in a comedy series has the opposite problem. There are plenty of nice comedic performances being given by men, but there aren’t nearly as many worthy of Emmy consideration as their female counterparts. There seems to be a clear top 3, but the other three slots are difficult to fill out. Without using those spots on all the male characters of Modern Family or from overhyped shows such as The Big Bang Theory, filling out this ballot suddenly becomes a bit of a tall order. Nonetheless, the Emmy gods demand six nominees, so here are my top six.

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Modern Family Season 4 Episode 24 Goodnight, Gracie (9)

Last season, Ty Burrell came to symbolize a lot of what was wrong with Modern Family. Always a well-meaning doofus, Phil Dunphy became the real life Peter Griffin during season 3. It seemed as if the writers were making Phil stupider by the episode. Somewhere in season 4, that tide was stemmed as Phil had multiple opportunities to play wonderful emotional beats along with his usual funnies from poor word choice and physical comedy. Everything Burrell is able to do with the character and some good writing is captured in the season finale. As emotionally affecting as a network sitcom can get, the episode was a showcase piece for Burrell and his probable submission episode. It’s tough to imagine him not getting a nomination after that performance.

Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation Season 5 Episode 7 Leslie vs. April (12)

For the fifth year in a row, I, along with numerous other people writing similar columns, will beat the drum for Nick Offerman. He’s never going to be nominated by the Academy, but there’s probably no more deserving of a candidate. Now in his fifth season playing Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, Offerman has taken the character to depths that are wonderful additions to the show. We’ve always been aware of his superhuman qualities, but Offerman has shown the softer side to Ron Swanson with equal skill. It’s difficult to imagine Offerman never being honored for his portrayal of Ron Swanson, but he’ll have to settle for his fifth consecutive Internet Emmy nomination. Congratulations Nick.

Max Greenfield, New Girl

In its second season ascendance to one of the very best comedies on television (more on that in a later column), New Girl has established three-fourths of its core as legitimate comedic stars (Poor Lamorne Morris’ Winston just can’t quite get there). While Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson have both done really strong work as their characters’ relationship progressed, Max Greenfield has been even more impressive as the always ridiculous, but well-intentioned Schmidt. In addition to his usual antics (some of the best are in the video below), Schmidt really delivered in his scenes with his two love interests. The finale’s decision to have him run away from the two of them played perfectly with his character. It was a terrific follow up to his Emmy nominated performance from last season. Another nomination should be in the offing.

Chris Messina, The Mindy Project

Full disclosure: I have a soft spot for Chris Messina because I think I may end up exactly like his character on The Mindy Project, Danny Castellano. Excessively brash with a masculine veneer, Messina turned a potentially problematic character and made it a believable confidante for Mindy while making effective use of his deadpan delivery. Given all of the upheaval surrounding the show in its freshman season, it says something about Messina’s performance that he was never viewed as something needing tweaking. Hopefully, the show will get the opportunity to take off in its second season, and Messina will be a major reason why.

Adam Driver, Girls

Vouching for Adam Driver’s Emmy candidacy gets a little weird considering what I’ll polite refer to as the incident. However, it’s just another strange act from a strange man. If you can look past his character’s lowest moment, you’ll see a season filled with moments filled with humanity and humor. He’s by far the most complex character on Girls and often times the most entertaining. By providing us with that one weird moment, it seemed like Lena Dunham was attempting to submarine all of the goodwill the character built up over a season and a half. Still, it can’t undo another season of superlative performances from one of the most unlikely sources in all of television.

Aziz Ansari, Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation Season 5 Episode 16 Partridge (3)

I reserved this final slot for another bit player from the Parks and Recreation cast. All that was left was to determine was who should fill the spot. After my crack research team spent hours pouring over the data, it was determined the answer was Aziz Ansari. A usually hit and miss member of the cast, Ansari really found his stride this year as Tom Haverford started to mature. It showed that Ansari can really run with material when its given to him. He’s always been lumped into other storylines, but he was exceptional during the entire Rent-a-Swag arc. It was such a profitable arc, the show even set up more next season with a businessman (possibly Diddy) trying to take over Tom’s business. It’s a great compliment the show is paying to Ansari’s quality work this season.

Who are your six nominees? Feel free to let me know in the comments.