Emmy Round Table: Comedy: Is it still funny when the joke’s on you? Billy Crystal weighs in

Billy Crystal talks about portraying himself, navigating personal jabs for the sake of comedy and the show’s great moments of awkwardness.


Comedians have mastered the art of humor by carefully studying the craft. While they can make fun of others, can they make fun of themselves if they know that jokes are half humor and half true?

During The Envelope’s annual Emmy Comedy Roundtable, Billy Crystal talked about learning to laugh at himself in his new show, “The Comedians.”

The show is about two comedians (Billy Crystal and Josh Gad) who have been paired up to produce a late-night show. Conflict (and comedy) emerges between the two as a result of the generation gap that separates them. Crystal decided to take a chance and play himself rather than acting as another comedian in the show. “Josh and I said, ‘We should play ourselves because that’s what’s going to make it really dangerous.’”


What made it daring were the personal jabs the two had to make about themselves. What made it unique were the silences. The funniest moments, Crystal noted, were the ones where the two didn’t say anything. It was the reactions that produced the funny.

Take a look at the video above to learn about other challenges Crystal faced. And check out other clips from the Emmy Comedy Roundtable conversation, which in addition to Crystal, featured Jeffrey Tambor, Danny Devito, Anna Faris and Anthony Anderson.