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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

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.

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.


Emmy pundits' video slugfest: Who'll win best supporting comedy actor?

Emmy pundits' video slugfest: Who'll win best supporting drama actor?

Emmy pundits' video slugfest: Who'll win best supporting drama actress?

Boomer vs. Rob: Best supporting comedy actor

Boomer vs. Rob: Best supporting comedy actress

Boomer vs. Rob: Best supporting drama actor

Boomer vs. Rob: Best supporting drama actress

Boomer vs. Rob: Best guest comedy actor

Boomer vs. Rob: Best guest comedy actress

Boomer vs. Rob: Best guest drama actor

Boomer vs. Rob: Best guest drama actress

Boomer vs. Rob: Best reality competition show

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

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The comments to this entry are closed.


I just saw Thearicality (the lady gaga episode) and I think if he and mike o'malley had submitted that episode, they would have prevailed.

Suggesting that Chris Colfer is playing himself is just ridiculous.
Secondly: Chris is one of the main players on the show. He is the most interesting character for a LOT of people because he plays it so well. After Lea, Cory and Mat, he is basically a main character. Jeez do you even watch Glee?
Lastly, no, if Colfer wins it's because he gives an an outstanding performance. I am a Glee fan but no-one in the Glee fandom really cares much if Mathew or Lea win their respective Emmys because they aren't the strongest actors in their categories. But Chris definitely has a shot. He's one of the strognest contenders (if not THE strongest). Out of all the Glee actors nominated (besides Jane), Chris deserves to win and has the biggest realistic chance.
If he wins at his young age it just proves what a great actor he is.
He is a scene stealer in every episode, even when he doesn't have dialogue.
He can deliver a performance with a facial expression and a guesture.
Can the other nominees do that? From what I have seen, they kinda can't.
Also, it takes a VERY strong actor to pull off Rose's Turn and make a moving story-line convincing. It's not the story that moves people, it's Chris's performance.
A LOT of professional critics praise Chris, he's definitely not last in the contenders, if anything he's first.

@Josh - Ty Burrell submitted the iPad episode ("Game Changer"), at least according to every source I've seen. I think that was a risky choice on his part, because some people hated that episode, but it was a great performance and it may pay off.

As for Chris Colfer - he's very good in the episode, but all the same I'd put him either fifth (ahead of Ferguson) or last in terms of his chances of winning the category - and I definitely would have ranked Ferguson's chances higher if he'd submitted a different episode.

Colfer just doesn't have much of anything going for him, outside of the fact that he's good in the episode. And he's up against some heavy-hitters - some of whom have equally impressive tapes.

Plus there's the age issue, which is huge. A 20-year-old winning an Emmy is extremely difficult to imagine, and it's not as if he carries the show, or is one of the better-known members of the cast. Actors aren't going to want to give an award of this magnitude to someone who isn't old enough to drink, had no professional acting experience prior to the show he's on, and hasn't payed any "dues" to speak of. The voters will probably think of his nomination as being reward enough.

There's also likely to be a mindset of, "He's just playing himself." And the voters who watch Glee regularly will know that in a typical episode his role doesn't consist of much more than a few funny lines here and there. If he was given the chance to give those kind of performances every week, his chances would be better.

I'm certainly not counting him out entirely. There are very few acting nominees this year who I would count out entirely. Also, the Modern Family supporting actors may split the votes of the hardcore Modern Family fans. But if Colfer wins, it will be because of Glee-mania, or voters being moved by the content of the episode.

I think it will come down to Neil and Chris. Eric is great and all, but Neil is long overdue his Emmy, he has been unfairly over-looked in previous years according to a lot of people. Even though he didn't submitt a great episode this year the voters could still feel that he deserves his belated Emmy. I think it will definitely come down to Neil and Chris head to head. The Modern Family voters will split the votes too much for anyone from that show to win I think.

I'm hoping for Chris Colfer to win personally. I'm a big fan of his and he shows so much range as an actor in "Laryngitis", that kid can really do anything in my opinion.
Also, Colfer is actually very very funny. His performance in "Bad Reputation" never fails to make me laugh. His delivery and facial expressions in that episode, holy crap! now THAT'S a comedic performance! Considering this is a comedy category I thought it was strange Colfer didn't sumbitt that episode, because it is his funniest by far. But I understand he wanted to show his range.

I believe Ty Burrell ended up submitting Up All Night, which is the kidney stone episode.

I also think Chris Colfer has an excellent chance at winning. Not only does he have the most screentime of all the nominees, but Colfer has had tons of exposure this summer - from Comic-Con to Outfest to Performer Peer Group dinner last week, Colfer has been everywhere lately. I know that his role is more dramatic, but Colfer can deliver an acerbic line and I think he's very funny once he Mellencamp-ifies himself and his storyline with Brittany is also good for laughs. Then there's Rose's Turn, which is a performance rife with emotion, anger and bitterness and it's quite incredible to watch.

Something you guys didn't seem to touch on here is the possibility of a split vote between Burrell and Stonestreet. I know Burrell didn't submit a great episode, but he's so visible in Jesse Tyler Ferguson's submission in particular, that I think he is still going to garner a lot of votes. Surely a split vote would only serve to benefit Colfer?

I would love to say that I'm hoping to see Chris Colfer win the Emmy (most of all because I like Glee), but I'm too jealous of that, first of all, because I'm 22 and he's 20, and second because I think i'm never going to realize my dreams of becoming an actor right there, in the US (I'm form Argentina)... so, if he wins, it's going to be a bittersweet moment... but I hope everyone is expecting him to get that freaking Emmy...



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