Q&A: Emmy host Andy Samberg’s guilty pleasure is award shows. No kidding

"I'll feel like I'm not fulfilling my duties if there is zero Trump jokes," Andy Samberg says of his hosting gig.

“I’ll feel like I’m not fulfilling my duties if there is zero Trump jokes,” Andy Samberg says of his hosting gig.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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When in search of a host for a live awards program, it always helps to have someone at your network with a resume that lists “Saturday Night Live” as a credit. Fox has that in Andy Samberg, who will be the emcee for its Sunday telecast of the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star and viral video pioneer offers a hint of what he has planned and explains why he’s a trophy-show junkie.

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Is it harder to make fun of TV now because so much of it is good?


I don’t generally make fun of things outright. It’s easier to write jokes because there is good material to bounce it off of and people have a shorthand with television because there is so much that people agree is great.

But so much TV has niche followings now. Aren’t there pockets of the audience that just aren’t going to get some gags?

The landscape is spread out without a doubt. You’ve got to pick and choose. There are a lot of shows where maybe people haven’t seen every episode so they know the premise, so you make a joke about a premise. You’re looking for things that are a little more universal.

So what do you do in those long breaks when you’re not on stage?

You can change your tux. You can watch the show and think of possible things to add if something interesting happens. If not, you sip some water, soak it all up and enjoy yourself.

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Is there built-in time in the broadcast for ad-libbing?

No. But I’m doing a lot of presenting of presenters and introducing of segments and that kind of thing. If we find something we like, we can pop it into one of those spots.

Do you have to be a big TV fan to do this show? Or did you spend time becoming more TV literate?

I definitely learned a lot more about the shows that I wasn’t previously watching. I made time to see more so that I’m well-versed, particularly the shows that are nominated.

Any discoveries in that process?

The multiplatform way of making TV now has lent itself to being a lot great shows and a lot of types of shows. It seems like there’s something for everyone. It’s not just something people are saying.


But did you find something in particular that you’d watch as a regular viewer?

I finally saw “Transparent.” I thought it was great.

A lot of people had not heard of YouTube before your digital short “Lazy Sunday,” from “SNL,” became a sensation. What is a like to realize you had a hand in developing this new form of TV?

People say that to us a lot — us being Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone [his partners in the video and music-making entity the Lonely Island]. We look at it as we were very fortunate timing-wise. We were making a thing that was a good fit for the technology right when the technology was occurring. If it hadn’t been us, it would have been someone else, and we were just lucky it was us.

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So we can expect some filmed pieces on the show, right?

There’s going to be a little bit.

How many Donald Trump jokes are you mandated to have in the show?


I’ll feel like I’m not fulfilling my duties if there is zero Trump jokes. He is the story right now. I’m asking for a million, and I’m trying to think of my own. We’ll see if we can find the perfect one. If not, we’ll do a bunch of decent ones.

Is there any talk of him being in the audience?

Not that I’m aware of. But I certainly hope so. That would be wonderful. That would be killer. I’ll call him.

Will you watch the entire show afterward?

No. Definitely not. When I do a show I don’t need to watch it afterward because I lived it. I usually wouldn’t watch back “SNL” or the “Spirit Awards” or the “MTV Movie Awards.” I like to let the memory of the experience of it be how I remember it more.

Have you watched the Emmy Awards telecast in years when you have not attended?


I do and have for a long time. I enjoy watching awards shows. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure of mine.

You just like the genre.

I do. I think it’s because there’s always comedy and the comedy is at a higher risk level, which is exciting to watch. There is a ton of people watching and “what is this comedian going to do with it?” I’ve always romanticized it — [the notion] that everyone in entertainment coming together and cross-pollinating and seeing these strange combinations of people hanging out and presenting together and sitting together. There are all types of jokes that can be made because of people sitting in the room.

What’s your favorite awards show moment of all time?

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on the Golden Globes is up there. I really loved Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hosting together on the Oscars.

Sounds like you’re fond of teams. If you pick a co-host from any point in the history of show business, who would it be?


That’s a lot of pressure. Mel Brooks or Steve Martin.


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