The 2019 Primetime Emmys used dry humor, instead of an orchestra, for transitions to great success. Comedian Thomas Lennon's Emmy commentary provided a wry comedic voice to the proceedings. For the most part, Twitter seemed to love his take as well. Maybe this can become a new Emmys tradition.
According to Deadline, Lennon was hired to provide what Fox described as "a refreshing, lighthearted take on the traditional factoids that audiences typically learn as winners make their way to the podium mixed with jokes, commentary and unexpected anecdotes." On Sunday night, as each winner took the the stage, Lennon told the audience something funny — if not entirely accurate — about them. Some awards shows will use commentary instead of music to fill the time as winners make their way through the crowds. However, it's usually a list of each winner's achievements or a bit of trivia about them. The Emmys went in a different direction.
Lennon is perhaps best known for starring in Reno 911!; he played Lt. Jim Dangle for six seasons. But he got his start in the business on the MTV sketch show, The State, back in the '90s, which was followed up by Comedy Central's Viva Variety! You may also recognize the comedian's voice from Bob's Burgers, American Dad, Archer, and Lego Star Wars. He's had recurring and guest roles on shows including Another Period, Lethal Weapon, Drunk History, Santa Clarita Diet, and Bajillion Dollar Propertie$. At the movies, Lennon has starred in comedies like I Love You, Man, 17 Again, and Baywatch and scripted a few others, including the Night at the Museum movies and Let's Go to Prison.
At the Emmys, his soft-spoken commentary was sharp and hilarious, and easy to miss if you weren't listening closely. Here are some of the best examples of Lennon's commentary, as well as reactions from social media. Some are even calling for Lennon to host the Emmy Awards next year.
For those of you eager for any reference to Cats in anticipation of the upcoming film, Lennon came in hot with an incredible Cats joke:
Some of Lennon's jokes were sneakily pretty edgy. When Chernobyl took home one of its several statues, he called the tragedy that inspired the series “the little nuclear disaster that could." He even reference to Felicity Huffman, who was recently sentenced to jail time for her role in the college admissions scandal. Of all Lennon's jokes, this one probably turned the most heads.
Some of his jokes were a little too real for some viewers at home, though. And Twitter reacted accordingly.
Throughout the night, Lennon's disembodied voice was an unexpected Emmys treat. Even he seemed surprised to be there, as evidenced by him frequently pretending to run out of steam midway through bits. "Are the Emmys woke?" Lennon asked at one point. "Or... this is why people don't do this, because it sucks," he concluded.
However, not everybody liked that particular joke. "Joking about non-existent female or POC winners in a category," tweeted actor Jackée Harry. "Yeah, those jokes suck, Thomas."
But overall, Lennon's jokes seemed to go over well at the ceremony and with viewers watching at home. This type of commentary may be the answer to the host-less awards show. It keeps the show going but doesn't pull focus from what everyone's really there to do: celebrate the year in television.