Sunday, August 29th marks the 62nd annual Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Primetime Emmy Awards. It will be aired live on NBC from 5 pm to 8 pm PT and 8pm to 10 pm ET. Saturday Night Live alumnus and Late Night host Jimmy Fallon will host the Emmy Awards year, hopefully continuing a precedent of successful funny celebrities to host the Emmy’s. Throughout the years, the Primetime Emmy Awards had many celebrity hosts. Actors, talk and game show hosts, politicians, singers and dancers have all stood in as Emmy hosts throughout the years. There were even two years where there were no Emmy hosts at all. Some have done well; some have failed miserably. But the most successful Emmy Awards hosts have been, without a doubt, the comedians. It seems the funnier the Emmy Award host, the more people watch, causing ratings to skyrocket. Here are my picks for the top 5 best Emmy Award hosts:
Best Emmy Award Host Fifth Place:
What better way to start the list of best Emmy Award hosts than with the power couple who kicked off the precedent of successful funny hosts? In February of 1952, the 4th annual Primetime Emmy Awards was held. Hosting that year was the couple who won America’s hearts and tickled their funny bones: Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Lucy was a comedian and actress best known for her sitcom work. Her husband, Desi Arnaz was a Cuban musician and actor most famous for his costarring role with his wife in I Love Lucy.
The duo’s appearance as co-hosts of the Emmy Awards was entertaining, certainly. The success of I Love Lucy was a direct result of the chemistry between the husband and wife team. This chemistry was a primary reason the Emmy’s was a success too. But I Love Lucy also lead the awards that year and the team made strides for both women in television as well as minorities. The combination of funny and progressive power couple made them a sure bet for the top five Emmy Award hosts.
Best Emmy Award Host Fourth Place:
Neil Patrick Harris started out as beloved boy doctor in Doogie Howser, M.D. and has since had a sting of memorable television and feature film performances including his womanizing character in How I Met your Mother and in his surprise role as himself in the hit comedy Harold and Kumar. He is openly gay and is the first openly gay male to host. For those who are unfamiliar with his extreme talent as singer, dancer and actor extraordinaire, his appearance as Emmy Award host in 2009 for the 61st episode was an eye opener. His upbeat and entertaining performances, especially for the opening number, wowed audiences. His popularity during the show made him a crowd favorite for a possible repeat performance in coming years. Time will tell if he will get to exceed this Emmy Award hosting gig but for now he brings in the number four top spot for Best Emmy Award host of all time.
Best Emmy Award Host Third Place:
Third place goes to Conan O’Brien who hosted the 54thPrimetime Emmy Awards in 2002 and was part of an ensemble cast hosting the following year. But his most memorable stint as Emmy Award host came in 2006 for the 58th annual awards show. Conan is a comedian and television talk show host who has written for smash hits such as Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. He has numerous guest appearances and voice over acting engagements and is considered one of the funniest celebrities on TV today.
In 2006 Conan was Emmy Award host and his performance consistently makes memorable moments in Emmy history lists. He proved an engaging, funny and exciting host but his true claim to fame came from his opening montage that poked fun at himself, included members of the audience had some hilarious parodies. Bob Newhart locked in a glass cage with the threat of running out of air if the show ran long didn’t hurt the hilarity either. His fun packed awards show makes him third place for best Emmy Award host.
Best Emmy Award Host Second Place:
Johnny Carson deserves his second place as best Emmy Award host because he must have done something right. Johnny Carson was a comedian best known for his meteoric rise to fame with his 30 year run as host of The Tonight Show. His quick wit and incredible talent for banter made Johnny an easy pick as Emmy Award host. So much so that he served as host five times. His first appearance as host was in 1963 for the 14th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. He then was host an unprecedented four years in a row for the 23rd through 26th episodes in 1971 to 1974.
Emmy Award Host Top Pick: Ellen Degeneres
Ellen Degeneres was the Emmy host for the 53rdPrimetime Emmy Awards. It was held several weeks late finally airing on November 4, 2001. It was delayed because the original air date was scheduled for days after the notorious 9/11 attacks by terrorists on the World Trade Center that left America reeling. Ellen Degeneres, more commonly known simply as Ellen, started out as a standup comedian, moved to the sitcom Ellen, started her own talk show and most recently was a judge on American Idol. She acted as Emmy Award host four times, the 46th, 53rd, 55th and 57th. But her contribution to this Emmy Award show was staggering.
She received several standing ovations for her performance which both respectfully acknowledged the loss and gave Americans a bit of levity in the face of such a tragedy. She provided the perfect balance to pull off an entertaining show that also honored the fallen Americans and respected the more somber tone needed for the evening. Ellen delivered now famous lines such as, “They can’t take away our creativity, our striving for excellence, our joy. Only network executives can do that” and “What would upset the Taliban more than a gay woman wearing a suit in front of a room full of Jews?” She was one of the main celebrities to help America get back on their feet and move on with life in the face of the 9/11 devastation and is my top pick for the best Emmy Award host.
Jimmy Fallon has some big shoes to fill as Emmy Award host this year. Paul Telegdy, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios said regarding Jimmy Fallon as the Emmy Awards host, “Jimmy was the natural choice as one of the most promising and likable young entertainers who will now have the chance to display his many talents on television’s biggest night. His proven skills as a comedian and host – as well as his openness to new ideas – will fully engage audiences and ultimately deliver a lively Emmy telecast.” If Fallon is like some of the other most successful Emmy Award hosts, he will have the ratings soaring with his comedic and engaging delivery of the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards but only time will tell whether he too will stand with the best Emmy Award hosts of all time.
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences , “Release: Fallon Tapped for 62nd Primetime Emmys.” Emmys.tv
Gary Susman, “Ellen Degeneres: Best. Emmy. Host. Ever.” Entertainment Weekly
Gary Susman, “What are the Emmys Most Memorable Moments?” Entertainment Weekly
Kenny Herzog, “The Best & Worst Emmy Hosts.” MSN Entertainment