Near the end of the Emmy awards, Pete Davidson suggested a round of applause for Kenan Thompson.
My instinctive response was, “Who???”
Oh yes, he was sort of the host. He told a couple jokes, joined an ill-advised dance number and later told some more jokes, including some good ones. Then he mostly vanished.
There’s a reason we need stand-up-comedy types to host awardcasts. They can punctuate a show with quick quips at odd moments. Thompson’s a terrific comedy actor, but this isn’t in his skill set; you need someone like Steve Martin (shown here with “Only Murders in the Building” colleagues Martin Short and Selena Gomez).
The Emmys needed some help because there were so many things that went wrong – some linked to the site. The dance number didn’t really work, because there were no good angles to shoot it from. And for the “in memorium” number, the camera was sometimes so far away that we couldn’t read the name. I guess they died in vain.
The show did come up with one good idea: To keep people from rattling off long lists of names, make each contestant write a list in advance; if he wins, it appears at the bottom of the screen.
It was a good idea, not always followed. Jennifer Coolidge actually pulled out a paper with a list of names; she was quickly and deservedly drowned out by music. (Another person pulled out a paper, but that was OK; he was clever and English isn’t his first language.)
The night’s best line involved Martin, as best lines usually do. He was onstage with “Only Murders” co-stars — making it two old guys and a young woman. Short pretended to prattle on; when he finished, Martin asked Gomez, “How much time do we have left?”
The reply, in her deadpan style: “If you exercise and eat right, maybe 10 to 12 years.”
The rest of the show had its ups and downs – great acceptance speech by Michael Keaton (a well-deserved winner in the terrific “Dopesick”) … lots of speeches that were awful … and a few gowns that were even worse. No director should ever be encased in that much orange.
As for the winners, the Emmys sort of repeat themselves. “Ted Lasso” and Jason Sudeikis repeated as best comedy … “Succession” sort of repeated as best drama. (It wasn’t around last year, so the win went to “The Crown,” which wasn’t around this year.) John Oliver’s show and “Saturday Night Live” won for the zillionth times. Mike White won three times in one night, for writing, directing and producing “White Lotus.”
The pleasant surprise was a first-year, broadcast-network show winning twice. “Abbott Elementary” won for its pilot script (by Quinta Brunson, who also stars) and for Sheryl Lee Ralph in support.
There were some moments here that were fun. There will be more in the future, if they get Steve Martin to host. Preferably in the next 10 to 12 years.