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Emmy toss-up: Who'll win best supporting comedy actor? [updated]

August 11, 2010 |  7:52 am

Originally, we heard from 20th Century Fox TV that Ty Burrell submitted the "Game Changer" episode of "Modern Family" to Emmy judges and we based our analysis of the race for best supporting comedy actor on that. However, we learned yesterday that Burrell changed his submission at the last minute to "Up All Night," which is a far stronger entry. Thus our Emmy gurus Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Rob Licuria (AwardsHeaven) just rewrote their predix, both agreeing that Burrell now has a better chance to prevail. Boomer didn't change his rankings, though. Burrell remains in second place behind "Modern Family" costar Eric Stonestreet. Rob moved Burrell up to second place from third, knocking Chris Colfer ("Glee") down to third rung.

Rob and Boomer pick Eric Stonestreet to win based on the big, bombastic performance he gives as a clown in the "Fizbo" episode of "Modern Family." Yes, that's a hoot, and brassy comedic roles often win here (Jeremy Piven, Sean Hayes, Michael Richards), but I think Chris Colfer delivers the bombastic equivalent in song when he belts out "Rose's Turn" in the "Laryngitis" episode of "Glee." Heck, it's such a winning number that three gals have Tony Awards for performing it on Broadway in "Gypsy" (Tyne Daly, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone).

Not only that, but Colfer shows off his acting chops by delivering broad emotional range in a one-hour episode, which is twice as long as rival nominees. Episode size is often key to victory. Lastly, Colfer fearlessly and defiantly embraces his sexuality in the story line. Remember who's voting here — actors, the most gay-friendly group of people on the planet. Just look how gay this category is: three gay roles (Stonestreet, Colfer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson) plus Neil Patrick Harris, who is out in real life. Yes, Stonestreet's character is gay too, but it's not a compelling issue in the episode being judged here.

If all this sounds like a solid argument to you, don't rush to judgment. Rob and Boomer say I'm wrong. Read why below. Then watch our webcam slugfest over this category here.

Glee Chris Colfer Modern Family news

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR: ROB'S PREDIX
1. Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family" ("Fizbo")
2. Ty Burrell, "Modern Family" ("Up All Night")
3. Chris Colfer, "Glee" ("Laryngitis")
4. Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" ("Captain Terry's Spray-On Hair")
5. Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother" ("Guys vs. Suits")
6. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family" ("Family Portrait")

ROB'S REVISED COMMENTARY: With the news that Ty Burrell submitted "Up All Night" and not "Game Changer," I reviewed his actual submission and concluded that my rankings effectively don't change, but it is no longer a two-horse race, as this (much better) episode propels Ty Burrell as more of a front-runner for a three-horse race to the finish. Burrell's comic timing is absolutely dead-on perfect. It is probably what fans and critics alike love most about him. He gets all the best lines, and in a couple of scenes with his kids. He just knocks it out of the park. The "agony" he displays (because of a kidney stone) is purposely overblown and melodramatic. It also helps that the episode, edited down to just scenes that he appears in, is a nice little arc for the character with a beginning, middle and end.

Honestly, I don't know which way voters will go now. It is clear to me that Burrell, Stonestreet and Colfer have the strongest submissions to the voters, but I don't know how much "other factors" come into play, one of which is the genuine affection that people seem to have for Burrell's character and the knockout performances he has delivered all season (the same could also be said for Colfer and Stonestreet).

So, ultimately, I am sticking with Stonestreet, with Burrell and Colfer nipping at his heels for the win. If any of those three don't prevail, then something awry has happened with voting in this category.

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR: BOOMER'S PREDIX
1. Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family" ("Fizbo")
2. Ty Burrell, "Modern Family" ("Up All Night")
3. Chris Colfer, "Glee" ("Laryngitis")
4. Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother" ("Girls vs. Suits")
5. Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" ("Captain Terry's Spray-On Hair")
6. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family" ("Family Portrait")

BOOMER'S REVISED COMMENTARY: Perplexing!  It's a category filled with possible winners, depending on the tastes and preferences of the judging panel. That makes it incredibly hard to predict this year. After watching all of the submitted episodes, my best guess and gut feeling is that Eric Stonestreet wins the Emmy. In his episode, he goes back to his past to wear his old clown outfit (Fizbo) for his nephew's birthday party. Nothing overwhelmingly funny happens that implores the voters to reward him, but the best scene is when he and Mitchell are at the gas station. Stonestreet also has a couple of good moments shared with his co-stars on their episodes.

If voters watched "Modern Family" throughout the season, they may want to vote for Ty Burrell. I don't personally see how he gathers votes based strictly on his submission, but it has more of a complete start-to-finish storyline among the three nominees from this series. The hospital scene wanting all the attention and at the end with the young ladies in the next room were the best.

I was truly blown away by Chris Colfer's episode choice, in which he has some funny moments throughout the first half, some serious scenes with his father and an amazing performance from the musical "Gypsy." He definitely has a chance to win, but somehow I think his age (he would be the youngest winner in this category by far) works against him with voters.  It could be an extremely tight race between Stonestreet (1), Burrell (2) and Colfer (3).

Neil Patrick Harris continues his tradition of submitting poor episodes for the Emmy judges. In fact, I was shocked at how far downhill the writing has gone for this once-great show (almost Disney Channel comedy level writing at this stage). He does perform an Emmy-nominated song at the end of the show, but I don't think it will be enough.

I actually think Jon Cryer has a minor shot at repeating his win, because his episode once again has a nice blend of dialogue with Charlie Sheen and some physical humor.  It isn't nearly as funny as last year's episode, though.  Poor Jesse Tyler Ferguson doesn't have a prayer with no character arc or depth to play in his episode (his fear of a bird — really?) and the better performances from his own co-stars.

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Photos: Eric Stonestreet in "Modern Family" (ABC), Chris Colfer in "Glee" (Fox)

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