Are you ready to get back out there?

Trevor Noah, host of the late-night "The Daily Show," in a park.
Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, says, “When I make people feel better, I feel better.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
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With Father’s Day around the corner, I’m daydreaming about beer, barbecue and bonding and wondering how any earthquake kit can possibly be complete without a safeguarded liquor cabinet. I mean, if we’re talking end times, I’m going to need more than pita chips and a squeeze bear of honey to see me through the darkness.

Also: Emmy nominations voting is now underway. In honor of Father’s Day, I’m throwing votes to Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, the “This Is Us” TV dads who don’t need a backyard barbecue to get in touch with their feelings. (Goals.) I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of the Envelope’s Friday newsletter and guy who didn’t cover the grill last night because nobody told me it was going to rain.

Trevor Noah is ready to return. But what will that look like?

“Let’s move on from some bad news ... to more bad news,” Trevor Noah said during a transition in an early September episode of “The Daily Show” that opened with the apocalyptic orange-hued skies of the California wildfires. He could have used the line pretty much any time during the last year. But somehow, Noah’s calm voice — and playful humor — helped make the rolling nightmares a little less scary.

“I do it selfishly, because when I make people feel better, I feel better,” Noah says of his attempts to help his audience navigate the news and, when appropriate, feel a tinge of optimism. “There’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy in that if you can make people feel better, then that means there is still hope. And if there’s still hope, then you can still feel hopeful. So that cycle continues.”


I spoke with the late-night host not long ago, and we spent a lot of time wondering how the past year might have changed us — and whether those changes will stick now that life is returning to normal (whatever that is). Perhaps you can relate.

Don’t expect change in Emmy variety sketch and talk categories

There were more Emmy submissions than ever last year, but that bounty wasn’t reflected in the variety sketch category, which saw its number of nominees fall to three because there were only 14 contenders. That led the Television Academy to decide to merge talk and sketch series again, mixing and matching the way the Emmys had done before 2015. But show producers in both categories objected, and the plan was scuttled — for now.

Which means that even in a pandemic year that forced talk show hosts to broadcast from their homes and had “Saturday Night Live” cast members beginning the season in the studio with masks and temperature checks, the Emmy variety races shape up to be the same old same old. And nobody’s really happy about that, either, save for the perennial nominees.

I took a look at these races in a recent column, along with the forsaken land that is the TV movie, with an eye toward whether we might see some new winners when the prizes are handed out in September.

John Mulaney on "Saturday Night Live."
John Mulaney hosted one of the better episodes of “Saturday Night Live” this season.

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Are you ready for a Sparks Oscars?

Your reaction to the above headline probably was either A) Who/what are Sparks or B) Are you f—ing crazy?

But if you know the band, its 50-plus-year history and the fact that Sparks have a movie called “Annette,” starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard opening the Cannes Film Festival next month, then maybe the idea isn’t so absurd. “Annette” features an original story, music and songs by Sparks, with a screenplay that the band’s brothers, Ron and Russell Mael, wrote with director Leos Carax (“Holy Motors”). Maybe Sparks will perform one of these songs at the Oscars. Wouldn’t that be a ratings boost? (I’m using Sparks-irony here. But still ...)

There’s also a delightful documentary about the band opening today, “The Sparks Brothers,” directed with great energy and enthusiasm by self-described fanboy Edgar Wright. I reviewed it this week, and it’s well worth returning to a theater to see.

Sparks' beautiful brothers, Ron and Russell Mael.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)


I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

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