It happened. You did it. You've finally won an Emmy. And as the camera pans to your face, awe-stricken as you stand from your auditorium seat and manage your way to the stage, trembling all the while, many a thought zooms through your head: "Now's my time," you say to yourself. "Now's my time to pour out all the thoughts I've been bottling up since I first decided to get into show business as a way of sticking it to everyone I went to high school with. Now's my time of gushing sentimentally on the support of my grandparents, and preaching emphatically on whatever international crisis everybody seems to be ignoring. Now's my time to say everything I've always wanted to say!" Well, no. It's not. You can't do that.
Correction: you can do that (until they yank you off the stage with the musical interlude version of a hook-cane). But you shouldn't. It makes for bad television. See, there are very specific components that go into a halfway decent Emmy's speech. You need a bit of humor. You need a bit of schmaltz. And if the mood strikes, a political maxim can find its way into your delivery. And no need to worry if you don't actually have any genuine thoughts of your own to make up a speech — there are enough scattered pieces out there to comprise a whole new sermon with which to address your esteemed small screen peers. Individual great moments that, together, with their distinct styles and sensibilities, might just form the greatest Emmy acceptance speech of all time.
You've got to start off with something humble. An introduction that will assure the audience that you haven't quite let this glory go to your head just yet (even though you most certainly will have... it's an Emmy! The popular clique was wrong about you!). Something along the lines of Robert Guillaume's 1985 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy series win for Benson.
"I'd like to thank Bill Cosby for not being here."
After a spirited laugh from the audience (what are they gonna do, not crack up obligatorily?), you can move on to something a bit more grounded. A meaningful tribute to the parents that encouraged you to follow your dreams — but don't use the humor just yet! A 2008 Tina Fey, after having just snagged the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Award for 30 Rock, balanced the funny with the moving in her expression of gratitude to her mother and father.
"I want to thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done."
Following this, you're going to have to drive down the mood a bit. Not too heavy yet, just a bit sweeter and more sincere. A good focal point for this kind of ambiance would be a significant other — it works especially well if you're romantic life has been the subject of many a headline, so try and strive for that. Oprah Winfrey mastered the feat with her Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech in 1998 (yes, yes, this was a Daytime Emmy Award... but come on. It's Oprah!), when the icon poured her heart out to longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham.
"You're the sweetest man. With the greatest integrity. Thank you for helping to be everything I am, and all that is to come."
Then comes the real power of the speech. Your opportunity to shock and awe with a bombastic statement about the world and its follies, a challenge to the human race to be better. You're an Emmy winner now. You're the right person to point out the problems with society. And the great Sally Field — who corners the market on acceptance speeches of all kinds (Emmy, Oscar... she must have torn down the house after her "Best Dressed: Class of '64" win at Birmingham High School) — can give you a lesson. In 2007, Field nabbed Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Brothers and Sisters, delivering a heartrending diatribe that capped with a fervent declaration.
"If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no g******ed wars in the first place!"
And in flow the cheers. The applause should last for quite a while, so you'll have a few seconds to kill. Now, there are two ways to handle this. You can stand with dignity, nodding and welling up, beaming with delight over your victory and celebrating the opportunity to express this message... or you can do something more fun. Something along the lines of what Steve Carell did at the 2007 Awards, when he accepted the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series on behalf of Ricky Gervais for the latter's starring role on Extras. Carell and awards presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (old friends and collaborators of Carell's from his The Daily Show days) devised a most vivid visual depiction of joy... even though none of them had actually won anything.
Following this, you'll have the room's energy up to 11, and just the right blend of lightheartedness and sincerity to deliver your ka-pow moment. You know, the real drive-it-home, I'm-the-greatest, look-at-me-now-Dad exclamation of your newly achieved glory. In this category, you should look to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who had solidified her defeat over the dreaded "Seinfeld curse" that was said to follow her and all of her fellow former cast members after the conclusion of their hit show. In 2006, Louis-Dreyfus took home the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Award for The New Adventures of Old Christine, driving home one hell of a ka-pow with her speech.
“I'm not somebody who really believes in curses... but curse this, baby!"
Finally, it's about time to wrap up, and nothing stays with an audience better than one last laugh. A mean-spirited jab at your less-than-victorious opponents? A snarky bit of social commentary about the sitting president? The one about the priest and the rabbi? No. This one has to remind them that you're still on Earth with the rest of us. An undercut of this achievement you know to be well beyond anything that anyone else has ever earned. A take-down of your own spotlit swagger. Some good old fashioned self-deprecating humor. And there are few who top the great Larry David when it comes to this art form. The 1992 Emmy Awards offered David a platform for his patented self-directed mockery. Even after winning Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for Seinfeld's memorable fourth season episode "The Contest," David wasn't able to steer his mind away from his own personal shortcomings.
“This is all very well and good, but I'm still bald."
Boom. Mic drop. Off the stage. You're done here. Your 15 minutes (contracted into about 90 seconds, give or take) are over, but if you follow this guidelines, you'll have made it through like a champ. You'll be able to hold onto the fact that you delivered what might well be the greatest Emmys acceptance speech of all time. And who cares if you won for Reality Competition Program? An Emmy's an Emmy! Mazel tov — you've showed 'em all!
[Photo Credit: WENN, Vince Bucci/Getty Images]
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S2:E12 We've come to expect a lot from Community, so it's not going to get a gold star every week. This is one of those weeks. This week's episode was solid (and to be honest I can't think of a time when an episode of Community wasn't), but my favorite aspect wasn't the plot or even the one-liners, which are always on-point, it's the element of incredible attention to detail. So many other sitcoms put in pieces here and there to add color or to get a quick laugh, but they rarely come back to those details and use them for plot or extended gags that arch over many episodes. When you watch Community, pay attention, because those little jokes at the end of a tag could come back as something important later. This episode is one of those cases.
"Pierce, if someone had sex with Chang and gets to not remember it, it's a gift from God." -Troy
Remember back in October, when Greendale went all flesh-eating zombie thanks to some top-secret government grade mystery meat? Remember how Shirley and Chang totally did it, but then everyone lost their memories? Remember the tag that episode? This episode takes that little vignette of Troy getting a voicemail from Chang about his Halloween tryst, and it was funny that time, but now it's the premise for an entire episode. That happened months ago. See what I mean about those details? None of them are useless.
The secret incident comes up when guest star Malcolm-Jamal Warner stops by as Shirley's ex. Her surprise pregnancy (which also came up months ago in the bottle episode thanks to Abed's creepy menstruation chart) is the reason for the reunion, but the voicemail on Troy's phone throws a wrench in the whole system. It could be a Chang baby. While this whole thing was a little soap opera-esque for me, it did afford an occasion for Jeff and Andre (Warner) to have a conversation about his Cosby sweater - "My dad gave it to me" - because if you have Theo Huxtable on your show, you can't ignore the Cosby element. Well done.
Of course once Pierce shatters Shirley's world (in all fairness, he totally warned her that he would) with the news about Chang, Andre decides to stay with Shirley and we enjoy one of those sweet Community moments. I'm all for sincerity when necessary, but I'm not going to lie - when Pierce ruined all the sweetness with his creepy yawn and grab on Britta, I was a little relieved that the sentimental part was over.
"Why are you using your 'I love butterflies' voice?" -Troy
Annie's got a new man, and they found a finger in a ditch. How romantical. That's another thing I love about this show; Annie's complete lack of connection to reality. They play up her young, innocent ignorance to hilarious levels, allowing her to go all googly-eyed over trudging through crap with Rich the 30-something year old banana doctor (also from the Halloween episode and the pottery episode last year).
The whole episode sets everything up like Jeff is jealous of Annie's new crush, leading him to try anything to keep Annie from inducting Rich into the study group. But in true Community fashion, it's not that simple. Time and again we see that jealousy flash across Jeff's face and those fans hoping for a romantic resolution felt their hearts flutter at the idea of Jeff and Annie's reunion. (Hey ladies, you know Jeff's like 30-something too, right?) Right up until the point Jeff reaches what should be Annie's apartment after running through the rain upon hearing the Rich turned her down, it seems that this episode is following the expected romantic arc, but when Jeff stands drenched in the apartment doorway something is amiss. Remember the first episode of the season, when we see Annie's room and there are piles of trash bags lying outside of her barred windows? Remember Troy's 21st birthday episode, when they drop her off in a bad neighborhood at her rundown apartment? Those details weren't arbitrary. When Jeff stands in a hallway with fancy sconces on the wall and a delightful shade of yellow paint everywhere, we know he didn't go running for love. He went running to learn the ways of the Jedi master of being perfect, "Doctor-do-no-wrong" Rich.
This plot also allowed for a double encounter in the men's room - another detail which though seemingly silly, occurred with purpose. I loved that when Britta barges in and talks to Jeff, his exit is immediately followed by her flashing one of the Greendale nerds for concert tickets. This is partly because this episode doesn't have enough "buzzkill" Britta and because it makes me happy when everything in an episode has a reason.
"Guilty as Chang'd." -Chang
When this whole gag started up during the cold open, I actually rolled my eyes. I was just about fed up with the former Spanish teacher, but somehow as it continued, I found myself chang'ing words in real life. Damn you, Ken Jeong. Of course the reason for all this is a twist I'm on board with: Chang finally joining the study group. We know this can't last, but it's nice to shake things up a bit.
Also of note, Jeff's lawyering is back in play. His little "with Chang what you see is what you get" speech was entertaining, but made hilarious with the help of Chang's emphatic interjections like the above quote. The dude's complete lack of self-awareness and pension for ridicule is almost admirable.
"Who is this kettle corn-popping phantom?" -Jeff
Okay, that quote isn't from the tag, but the tag was about kettle corn so let it go. Troy and Abed in The Morning is back and this means I will be singing that little jingle until next Thursday night. I just hope that Rich isn't going to become an incredibly permanent fixture on the show. The dynamic between he and Jeff worked on Halloween and it works here, but he's going to reach intolerable levels of obnoxiousness really soon even if he does make the best kettle corn ever.