Have seven seasons of live sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live prepared Andy Samberg for the unpredictable, precarious, without-a-net scariness of hosting a major awards show? He’s about to find out, as he’ll emcee the 67th annual Emmy Awards, airing live from L.A.’s Microsoft Theater this Sunday at 8/7c on Fox.
Samberg himself won an Emmy—with Justin Timberlake and Lonely Planet cronies Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer—for the instantly classic “Dick in a Box” video in 2007. He also has has a best actor Golden Globe for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which returns to Fox on September 27th.
The California native could even pick up a second Emmy for writing in a variety special for SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special. But win or lose, comedy isn’t as easy as he makes it look, as we learned in this process-driven Q&A.
“Generally I’m just focused on not screwing up. Don’t ruin the joke. And when it goes well, it’s a relief.”
Hosting an awards show is a tough job. Why did you want to do it? Did you say yes right away?
I did. It’s such an honor to be asked. You gotta say yes. I’m going to just try to not look at the Internet for a week afterward.
Is the fact that it’s live daunting at all? Are you nervous?
As it comes closer I probably will be, although I did seven years of SNL and that’s live in front of millions of people. If it goes well, it’s the thrill that you didn’t fail. Is there an adrenaline rush to it? Absolutely. Generally I’m just focused on not screwing up. Don’t ruin the joke. And when it goes well, it’s a relief. I’m always nervous until I get the first laugh. Then I relax. I’m going into it trying to make it as funny as I can possibly make it but sticking to my rule [as] I always do: If I think it’s funny I’ll go for it.
I like things a little weirder than the broadest version of the show from a hosting perspective. But it’s been 10 years since I started at SNL and I’ve got a better gauge on what I can get away with. If everyone’s laughing, that’s my barometer. If you think something is funny but it will push the wrong buttons, it’s just not worth it if people will respond the wrong way. You don’t want to piss people off by doing something that’s insensitive. I’ll be more or less on script, but we’ll play the room as it comes and if interesting things happen we’ll comment on those things. If it feels right, we’ll do it.
Are you watching a lot of TV to prepare?
I’m definitely watching more than I normally would—researching, understanding the culture of each show, the fan bases that love that show, why they love that show, and what the big stories are to those people. There’s so many more shows every year now, it does make it a slightly bigger challenge to cover everything. We’re trying to figure out a way to make bigger jokes that you don’t necessarily have to have seen every show to understand, if you know the headlines of the big stories on TV this year.
Did you get any advice from previous hosts?
I’ve been talking to Seth [Meyers], who hosted last year. I’ve been asking him little things here and there. He says it’s a blast.
Planning any musical numbers?
I certainly hope so. I’ve had good success with music stuff in the past. But it’s gotta be the right idea.
You’ve been a winner before. What was it like to hear your name at the Golden Globes?
It’s kind of like somewhere between a surprise birthday and a fever dream. I genuinely thought there was no chance, so I prepared nothing, which, if you ask any comedian, is your worst nightmare, having nothing prepared. It was really exciting. But also, as soon as I left the stage, I was kind of like, “What the hell just happened? I’m pretty sure I just humiliated myself in front of the biggest audience I’ve ever stood in front of.” And then, it was just drinking.
What can we expect this season on Brooklyn Nine-Nine?
It picks up the moment we left off in last season’s finale. My good friend Bill Hader is going to be coming in as captain. He will bring his patented brand of Bill Hader humor. So far the season has been awesome. I’m happy to be back.
What else is on your plate this year?
Lonely Island made a movie this summer that Judd Apatow’s producing. it doesn’t have a name yet. I’ll be going home to Berkeley to visit my family.
The Emmys follow the Eagles/Cowboys game. Are you a football fan?
Yes, I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan. It’s not looking good for us, but I still have faith. I love having any association with football, not just because of the ratings, but also because it means they’ll run ads for the Emmys during the games and all of my friends will see me.
What’s your definition of the perfect gentleman?
Photo by Mark Seliger/Fox
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