Sustaining laughs for prolonged periods of time can be quite the challenge — just ask any Oscar host who's ever tried getting a chuckle out of Jack Nicholson in the third hour of the telecast. So the Emmy nominees for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series must have one of the best jobs on the planet. They get to walk onto a beloved sitcom or sketch show, drop a few well-timed punchlines, get a huge laugh, walk off the set, and collect a paycheck. And, in the case of Bradley Whitford at this Saturday's Creative Arts Emmy Awards, he gets to collect a shiny trophy, too.
There were lots of funnymen in competition for that coveted trophy this year. Comedy legend Mel Brooks was nominated for playing a fictionalized version of himself on FX's short-lived The Comedians. Louis C.K. and Bill Hader were both recognized for hosting Saturday Night Live — the former for one of the most controversial opening monologues of the season. Jon Hamm got a nod for playing the pompous Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne on Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
But none of them could surpass Bradley Whitford for his role on Amazon's Transparent. The actor most famous for The West Wing appeared in four episodes of the Golden Globe-winning series as Marcy May, a friend of Jeffrey Tambor's Moira who accompanied her to a cross-dressing retreat. Watching them have fun together were some of the season's most poignant scenes; and watching their falling out were some of the most heartbreaking.
Ironically, the award for Guest Actor in a Comedy ultimately went to Whitford, who had perhaps the least quote-unquote "comedic" role of all the nominees. But whether you consider Transparent a comedy or a drama, there's no denying the quality of Whitford's performance, and it's great to see the Television Academy recognizing characters as complex and unique as Marcy May.
Image: Amazon Studios