2022 Emmy Category Analysis: Comedy Guest Acting Categories – Blog

After a thirteen year stranglehold on the guest acting categories, “Saturday Night Live” only has one host nominated this year: rising stand up star Jerrod Carmichael.By: Christopher James

Though there is no shortage of television these days, we know Emmy voters only watch a handful of shows. Nowhere is this more starkly pronounced than in the guest acting categories. Name recognition (the title of the show first, the fame of the actor second) tends to determine the nods. Just five shows take up all twelve nomination slots this season.

But in a chance of pace, Saturday Night Live isn’t the main culprit. The comedy guest acting categories have long been dominated by the legendary variety show. we usually see, at leasttwo to three nominees for SNL in these categories. In 2022, though, Jerrod Carmichael is the show’s sole nominee here. Will he win, or will someone from the other popular comedies edge him out? hacks has five guest comedy nods (nearly 50% of the nominations), while Ted Lasso has three and Only Murders in the Building two.

Who will come out ahead? Let’s take a look at the categories…

Outstanding Performance by a Guest Actress in a Comedy Series


  • Jane Adams – hacks – Episode: “The Click” (Season 2, Episode 6)

  • Harriett Sansom Harris – hacks – Episode: “Retired” (Season 2, Episode 5)

    • Description: Susan is an old friend of Deborah’s who was once her competition in the comedy world. Now retired from comedy and working at a department store, Susan is comfortable with her decisions in life but Deborah feels guilty for pushing her out of the scene.

  • Jane Lynch – Only Murders in the Building – Episode: “Double Time” (Season 1, Episode 9)

  • Laurie Metcalf – hacks – Episode: “Trust the Process” (Season 2, Episode 3)

    • Description: Alice aka “Weed” is Deborah’s new tour manager who joins the team on the bus. A real road dog, Weed is adamant about keeping the tour on schedule. However, after Weed throws away something incredibly meaningful to Ava, Deborah insists on turning the bus around to retrieve it.

  • Kaitlin Olson – hacks – Episode: “There Will Be Blood” (Season 2, Episode 1)

  • Harriet Walter – Ted Lasso – Episode: “The Signal” (Season 2, Episode 6)

Analysis: hacks has a strangle-hold usurping 2/3rds of this category. This doesn’t necessarily help the show’s chances at winning. Since the rule change in 2015, an acting category has been filled with four nominees from the same show six times. That’s resulted in two wins (a 33% success rate). Both times, though, there was a clear frontrunner within the bunch (think Brett Goldstein, the breakout of Ted Lasso, up against three co-stars last seasons). Laurie Metcalf probably stands the best shot if hacks prevailing. Her character, a crotchety tour manager, is the funniest of the bunch and she gets quite a bit of screen time. However, Harriet Sansom Harris gives the stronger performance as a former comedian who quit the business. Plus, Jane Adams was nominated here last year and Kaitlin Olson was a fan favorite from the first season. Voters could conceivably vote for any of the four hacks women.

so if hacks split the vote, who benefits?

Emmy favorite Jane Lynch could win her sixth Emmy on her fourteenth nomination. As Steve Martin’s stunt double on Only Murders in the Building, she steals every scene. It also helps that she’s a former winner playing a key role in her submission episode . Rather than just being given one joke, Lynch’s Sazz becomes involved in solving the central mystery, just another way she emasculates Martin’s Charles. Not only is Lynch an Emmy favorite, but Only Murders… is beloved by the Television Academy. For the show’s first season, it earned seventeen nominations – the most of any new series.

All that said, we can’t fully discount Harriet Walter, who plays Rebecca’s mother in Ted Lasso. She has a delightful part in her episode submission, where she has yet again broken up with Rebecca’s father. It’s the slightest performance of the bunch but Walter is a two-time nominee this season (since she’s also nominated in the Drama Guest category for Succession) and Ted Lasso is the nomination leader for comedies.

Will Win: Jane Lynch – Only Murders in the Building
Should Win: Harriett Sansom Harris – hacks
Spoiler: Laurie Metcalf – hacks

Outstanding Performance by a Guest Actor in a Comedy Series


  • Jerrod Carmichael – Saturday Night Live – Episode: “Host: Jerrod Carmichael” (Season 47, Episode 16)

  • Bill Hader – Curb Your Enthusiasm – Episode: “Igor, Gregor, & Timor” (Season 11, Episode 9)

    • Description: Bill plays three different characters: an antiques dealer, a concierge, and a maitre’d, who all look and sound very similar, all say “Shplended!”, and may or may not be brothers from somewhere in Easter Europe. Larry suspects they are all in cahoots.

  • James Lance – Ted Lasso – Episode: “Building the Pyramid of Success” (Season 2, Episode 12)

  • Nathan Lane – Only Murders in the Building – Episode: “The Boy From 6B” (Season 1, Episode 7)

  • Christopher McDonald – hacks – Episode: “The One, The Only” (Season 2, Episode 8)

  • Sam Richardson – Ted Lasso – Episode: “Midnight Train to Royston” (Season 2, Episode 11)

Analysis: Saturday Night Live is a frequent winner of this category. However, it usually only wins for famous comedians, and it rewards the same people frequently. Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon and Dave Chappelle each won this award twice. Jerrod Carmichael is very funny, but it is likely too early in his career for him to win an Emmy in this category that prefers household names. Plus, his incredible special Rothaniel surprisingly missed in the Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) category. He might not yet be famous enough or have enough buzz for the win.

So who’s out in front? Nathan Lane has both the performance and the narrative to take the win. Lane tries to cover up the actions of his deaf son in his episode submission from Only Murders in the Building. Adding another layer of difficulty, the whole episode is told without spoken words, since it’s told from his son’s perspective. Lane gives a complex performance that skews serious for this category. However, that didn’t hurt past winners Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. maizel) and Peter Scholari (girls). Plus, Lane now has the most guest actor nominations or any actor (seven). Even better for his narrative, he has never won an Emmy. (He has three Tony Awards)

It’s possible that a sweep from any of the other big Emmy favorites could carry a guest actor to a win. if Ted Lasso picks up many awards, it could bring Sam Richardson along for the ride for his funny portrayal of a Ghanian billionaire. James Lance will likely not be much of a factor, as he barely appears in his episode. Even if hacks overtakes Ted Lasso and picks up lots of awards, McDonald will likely not win for his brief performance.

The real spoiler we should watch out for is Bill Hader, who plays triple duty as Eastern European relatives in Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s very broad, which can often make the difference in a tight comedy category.

Will Win: Nathan Lane – Only Murders in the Building
Should Win: Nathan Lane – Only Murders in the Building
Spoiler: Bill Hader – Curb Your Enthusiasm

Complete list of Emmy nominees

Who do you think will win the Comedy Guest Acting races? Let us know in the comments below.

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