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Break out the biscuits for ‘Ted Lasso’

Jason Sudeikis as "Ted Lasso," in a navy suit with red tie.
Jason Sudeikis in “Ted Lasso,” an early favorite in the Emmy comedy races.
(Apple TV+)

I’m taking a break from panning for gold (though, at this point, I’d settle for a chunk of agate), while wondering if there are going to be any local teams left in the NBA playoffs after this weekend. If not, I guess I’ll just have to console myself with those blueberries I have growing on my front porch. Does anyone have a good blueberry cocktail recipe to drown my sorrows?

Also, it’s June, which means Emmy nominations voting begins in a couple of weeks. I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of the Envelope’s Friday newsletter. And if the Lakers are bounced this weekend, I’m going to need some awards-worthy comedies to get me through the next week or two. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of candidates. So let’s get to it.

Emmy comedy predictions, ‘Ted Lasso’ edition

“Schitt’s Creek” made history last year, winning every comedy Emmy handed out during the prime-time broadcast. The drumbeat of acclaim eventually became so insistent that the show’s cocreator Dan Levy felt the need to apologize after winning his third Emmy of the evening. “The internet’s about to turn on me. I’m so sorry!” Levy said.

That revolt didn’t happen, of course, because who didn’t love the gentle comedy of the silly and sweet “Schitt’s Creek”? It probably didn’t deserve every one of the Emmys it won last year, but the show consistently made us smile and that counted for a lot in 2020.

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And fortunately, just as we were waving goodbye to the Rose family, another aggressively nice comedy came along to warm our hearts. And although “Ted Lasso” likely won’t repeat the “Schitt’s Creek” lovefest at the Emmys — how could it? — the moving series figures to dominate this year’s ceremony. I broke down the comedy series Emmy race as well as the four acting categories in a recent column, while spending an inordinate amount of time deciding which “Cobra Kai” star might earn a nomination. (Why not both?)

Get Smart an Emmy

As I noted in the column, Jean Smart should have won an Emmy last year for “Watchmen.” But at least voters will have the opportunity to make things right as Smart figures to be nominated twice this year — for the comic notes she added to “Mare of Easttown” and for her starring role in “Hacks,” in which she plays Deborah Vance, an old-school stand-up Vegas comedian forced to pair with a young writing assistant (Hannah Einbinder).

Jean Smart in "Hacks" on HBO.
(Jake Giles Netter / HBO)

“I read it, and I just said, ‘This has it all. This could be so great,’” the 69-year-old actress told The Envelope. “It’s so funny, and it’s balanced with these dark moments. If I could pick out a dozen of my favorite parts I’ve ever done, onstage or in front of the camera, and put them in the body of one person, I feel like [Deborah] is an amalgam of a lot of my favorite things.

“I was always a late bloomer, but this is ridiculous!” she added, laughing at her good fortune, which is our good fortune too as Smart makes every show she’s involved with better. (Except for maybe “Superintelligence,” but, hey, she made a convincing president.)

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Finding the funny

“People needed to laugh,” says Wanda Sykes, who stars in the new Netflix family series “The Upshaws.” “I know I needed it.”

Sykes was one of several comedy standouts participating in The Envelope’s recent comedy roundtable, joining Robin Thede, Anna Konkle, Jane Krakowski, Kenan Thompson and Michiel Huisman. That’s a great lineup, right? And they didn’t disappoint, with Times television critic Lorraine Ali asking them serious questions about the business of being funny while shooting in the midst of a global pandemic.

“It was strange to pretend that everything was sort of back to normal in front of the camera,” noted Huisman, a standout on “The Flight Attendant.” “But also kind of nice?”

“I think that it saved us, especially the actors,” added Thede. “To be free and be these crazy characters and just to be with each other. And luckily with the nature of the show, everything is strange, so we can kind of use that. But I can’t imagine somebody shooting a serious drama during the height of the pandemic.”

A collage of actors Robin Thede, Anna Konkle, Wanda Sykes, Jane Krakowski, Kenan Thompson and Michiel Huisman.
Emmy comedy roundtable participants were, clockwise from top left, Robin Thede, Anna Konkle, Wanda Sykes, Jane Krakowski, Kenan Thompson and Michiel Huisman.
(Christina House and Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Feedback?

I’d love to hear from you. Email me at glenn.whipp@latimes.com.

Can’t get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.


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