Andy Samberg Is Ready to Host the Primetime Emmys
Eight years ago, Andy Samberg and his comedy partners, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (aka the Lonely Island), won an Emmy for the song behind their Saturday Night Live digital short “D--k in a Box.” On September 20, Samberg will grace the Emmys again, this time as the ceremony’s host.
The actor has come a long way since that dirty little ditty scored an unlikely win. Samberg now stars on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and is developing alternative series projects for that network with Schaffer and Taccone via their new comedy venture, Party Over Here. The trio is also making a movie for Universal and producer Judd Apatow, to be released next spring. Samberg spills on
his hosting gig, that “D--k in a Box” victory, why he still shies away from social media and who should win Emmy gold this year.
How’s Emmy prep going?
I’ve only had a couple of full weeks off from Brooklyn Nine-Nine production to work on the Emmy Awards so far, but I think we’ve got a good start. They’re giving me the whole two weeks leading up to the show to lock everything down.
How would you compare writing for an awards show to other comedy writing?
It’s very similar to SNL. It’s a live show, so you’re working toward a set date. And you know it’s stuff that has got to play in front of an audience. I’ve hosted a couple of awards shows before, like the Independent Spirit Awards and the MTV Movie Awards. This is feeling like that, except slightly higher stakes.
You probably don’t want to plan jokes too far in advance. With comedy, you want it to feel fresh when you’re doing it. If you think of a great joke a year ahead of time, it’s usually harder for that to last a year than if you think of it two days before the show.
You need to have the most up-to-date Donald Trump joke possible.
Oh yeah, our Trump joke will be ripped from that day’s headlines.
You worked with Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Scott Aukerman on the MTV Movie Awards, and now you’re writing the Emmys with him and his team. How did that collaboration happen?
I had known of Scott from things like Mr. Show and features he had written. For the Movie Awards, his name came up and I was a huge fan. I’ve been on Comedy Bang! Bang! two or three times now and love that tone. When I got asked to do the Emmys, he was the first person I thought of.
The Emmy telecast seems like an unusual fit for the alternative comedy of Comedy Bang! Bang! or the Lonely Island.
I’ll be curious to see how it goes. I’ve watched a ton of old Emmys and seen how things have played and what I liked. The fear with me and Comedy Bang! Bang! is that it’s going to be too winky or too alt, but I think we’re going to strike a good balance. I’m not going to go out of my way to alienate anyone. We want it to be for everybody.
Any previous hosts who you thought nailed it?
I loved Seth Meyers’s monologue last year. I’ve watched that a few times now and am more impressed each time. Certainly Jimmy Fallon, who got a standing ovation. There are a lot of lessons to be gleaned from him. Also, Neil Patrick Harris was incredible. Jane Lynch was really funny.
This will also be a great opportunity to showcase Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
[The new season] starts the week after the Emmys, so hopefully they’ll run a really funny promo during the show. We’ve got a fun premiere coming back with Bill Hader as the new captain. (Editor’s note: Andre Braugher’s character, Captain Holt, has been reassigned.)
How would you describe your hosting skills?
Based on the few things I’ve done, I would say certainly pretaped film pieces are what I feel good about. That has always been my calling card. The reason I liked SNL so much is the same reason I like awards shows. There is an excitement and an energy around it, but there’s also this sense of community. You get to see all the folks whose work you admire in person. It’s like when Scooby-Doo would interact with the Harlem Globetrotters; people from different shows are hanging out together. That’s always the fun of unusual presenter pairings. Yeah, you get to see Cookie with a White Walker.
Will we see a pretaped bit from the Lonely Island?
No matter what I do, those guys are going to help me out. I don’t know if there’s going to be any rapping per se, but the goal is to have a pretaped digital short or two. Those guys will help me.
Your Emmy win for “D--k in a Box” was pretty bold for the Academy. Does it say “D--k in a Box” on the statue?
It does. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t believe they were allowed to say the name of the song on the show when we won. I think a lot about how young we were when that happened. It was the beginning of our second season on SNL when we did that. I don’t know that I appreciated it as much as I would now. The further away we get from it, the more I realize what a special moment it really was for us to win.
You finally joined Twitter this summer.
Somebody had @AndySamberg as a Twitter handle and we finally reclaimed it. In reclaiming it, it sent out a blast telling users I had joined. In fact, we are using Twitter and Instagram as @The LonelyIsland, not me personally as myself. We have been a little more active there. Akiva and Jorma have been doing some fun stuff.
Who is your Emmy pick? I’m going Braugher with a bullet. That’s my big pick, Andre Braugher [who is up for supporting actor in a comedy] for the win.
67th Emmy Awards, Sunday, Sept. 20, 8/7c, Fox