Emmy Circuit: NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ Stacks the Emmy Nomiations for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

John Mulaney Hosting "Saturday Night Live"

Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit Series. We are now in the Emmy post-nomination phase, where we watch all the nominated Emmy episodes and predict their chances of winning. The Creative Arts Emmy winners will be revealed Saturday, Sept. 14 while the Primetime Emmy Awards aires on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. Tune in week after week as we tackle all things Drama, Comedy, Limited Series and Variety.


This year for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, the Emmys have nominated seven distinguished performers. This group of men represents talent from both variety and episodic television programing. Five are previous Emmy nominees and two are previous winners. Regardless of scene or circumstance, each actor has managed to step into an established series and capture the spotlight. Katt Williams, of FX’sAtlanta,” took home the gilded statuette last year in this category. Come this September, a new actor will have the honor.


• Matt Damon – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Matt Damon”
• Robert De Niro – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Sandra Oh”
• Luke Kirby – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “All Alone”
• Peter MacNicol – “Veep” – Episode: “Oslo”
• John Mulaney – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: John Mulaney”
• Adam Sandler – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Adam Sandler”
• Rufus Sewell – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “Look, She Made a Hat”

Matt Damon – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Matt Damon”

Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and Keenan Thompson on “Saturday Night Live”

Episode Synopsis: Matt Damon hosts, Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus perform.

This year Matt Damon has received his seventh Emmy nomination for his hosting gig on NBC’sSaturday Night Live.” In his second time hosting, Damon closed out the first half of SNL’s season with some memorable sketches. He shared the screen with Kate McKinnon (a nominee for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series) as cohosts for a Westminster Daddy Show that has owners parading Dads around as opposed to dogs. Another sketch saw Damon playing Cecily Strong’s husband in a hilarious look at the delusions parents tell themselves juxtaposed with the realities of a family Christmas.

Damon also reprised his Brett Kavanaugh impression in a parody of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” His take on Kavanaugh in the midst of the Supreme Court hearings back in September was one for the books. Even though Damon is not nominated for his work in that particular episode, his heightened interpretation will undoubtedly be on the minds of voters when they cast their ballots. No matter your political leanings, Damon’s weepy, sniffling take on the newest Supreme Court Justice got people talking. Can talk translate to gold?

Robert De Niro – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Sandra Oh”

Alec Baldwin and Robert De Niro on “Saturday Night Live”

Episode Synopsis: Sandra Oh hosts, Tame Impala performs.

Among the group of nominees for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, the nomination for Robert De Niro is the oddest of the bunch. De Niro did not host “Saturday Night Live,” but instead appeared as Robert Mueller in the cold openings of three different episodes. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, De Niro described his turn as the Special Counsel not as a comedic performance, but as his “civic duty.”

The episode (more accurately, this single scene) De Niro submitted his Mueller reading various excerpts from the Mueller Report, with Aidy Bryant (William Barr), Kate McKinnon (Rudy Giuliani) and Alec Baldwin (President Trump) each giving their own interpretation. In these cameo appearances, De Niro looks the part, but his delivery is not necessarily comedically inclined. As such, an Emmy win here for this two-time Academy Award winner is less than likely.

Luke Kirby – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “All Alone”

Luke Kirby and Rachel Brosnahan in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Episode Synopsis: “Midge and Rose begin planning for Midge’s future as Benjamin attempts to impress Abe. Joel stresses over his next move, while Abe is presented with some big decisions of his own. Meanwhile, Susie tries to smooth things over for Midge.” (via IMDb)

Luke Kirby (Sundance’sRectify“) has been a distinguished presence on Amazon Prime’sThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” since the show’s pilot episode. Kirby portrays real life comedian Lenny Bruce in the midst of a fictional story surrounding an up-and-coming female wannabe comedian. In style, voice and timing, Kirby has managed to bring this icon back to life.

During his career, Bruce pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for comedians to include in their acts. In this series, Midge Maisel represents a similar counterculture to that of Bruce. This particular episode shows both Midge and Bruce finding themselves grappling with the effects of living the life of a boundary pushing stand-up comedian. The episode “All Alone” (a name of an actual Bruce song) marks Kirby’s seventh appearance in the series and third in season two. The episode is a real standout for Kirby, who displays a perfect balance of comedy and despondency – his Bruce is all heart and very human.

Peter MacNicol – “Veep” – Episode: “Oslo”

Peter MacNicol on “Veep”

Episode Synopsis: “Selina tries to arrange a meeting via her Finnish contact, Minna; Gary helps Catherine plan a big event; Jonah and Amy push an anti-vaccination message in Pennsylvania; Mike finds a new home; Richard may have an enemy.” (via IMDb)

Back in 2016, Peter MacNicol was nominated in this category for his role as Jeff Kane on HBO’sVeep.” However, the nomination was revoked due to MacNicol appearing in too many episodes – guest nominees are only eligible if they appear in less than 50% of the total number of episodes. This year, after not crossing that magic halfway mark, MacNicol is back with a deserved nomination.

Emmy voters were in love with MacNicol during his days on Fox’sAlly McBeal.” For his work on that show he was nominated for three Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy Series, with one win in 2001. Throughout his career, MacNicol has made his mark playing quirky characters. His foulmouthed, lecherous, political power player in this satirical series can most assuredly be added to that list. And this character may just lead MacNicol to his second golden statue.

John Mulaney – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: John Mulaney”

John Mulaney on “Saturday Night Live”

Episode Synopsis: John Mulaney hosts, Thomas Rhett performs.

In 2009, stand up comedian John Mulaney’s big break came when he was hired as a writer on “Saturday Night Live.” Mulaney has been nominated for sixteen Emmy awards over the past ten years for his work on “SNL” and various shows. He won an Emmy in 2018 for Writing for a Variety Special for his work on “John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City” and also in 2011 for Original Music and Lyrics for “Saturday Night Live.”

Until recently, his career has been focused mainly behind the scenes. However, in the last two seasons of “SNL,” he has hosted the show twice. His dominance as a host makes for a baffling realization that he was never a credited cast member. His talent in front of the camera is undeniable, and with this acting nomination, Mulaney is finally getting the center stage recognition he deserves.

Adam Sandler – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Adam Sandler”

Adam Sandler on “Saturday Night Live”

Episode Synopsis: Adam Sandler hosts, Shawn Mendes performs.

After a 25 year absence, Adam Sandler made a triumphant return to the show that put him on the map. Arguably, Sandler owes his career to “Saturday Night Live.” He was a cast member on the show from 1990 to 1995 and has since gone on to have a lucrative career making goofy comedies like, “Happy Gilmore” (1996), “The Wedding Singer” (1998), “Mr. Deeds” (2002) and most recently Netflix’sMurder Mystery” (2019).

Sandler’s return episode is filled with nostalgia. Various cast members pay homage to the vet by doing impressions of The Waterboy and Little Nicky, and Sandler performs a musical number dedicated to his late friend, Chris Farley. Sandler also brings back an old favorite, Opera Man. In this episode, politics takes a back seat and teenage boy humor is on full display. The tonal change of the show is definitely in line with Sandler-type comedy. Although this was not the best episode of the season, Sandler’s name does carry a lot of weight. But that weight may not be heavy enough to translate into a win.

Rufus Sewell – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “Look, She Made a Hat”

Rufus Sewell on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Episode Synopsis: “Benjamin opens Midge’s eyes to the New York art scene, and she ends up knowing more about art than she realizes. The Maisel and Weissman families come together for a tension-filled Yom Kippur dinner on the anniversary of Joel and Midge’s separation. Meanwhile, a reluctant Susie turns to her family for help in advancing her career.” (via iMDb)

Look, She Made a Hat,” is Rufus Sewell’s only appearance in the Amazon Prime series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This episode was one of the strongest of the season in large part due to Sewell’s layered performance. He plays a drunk, reclusive artist who captures Midge Maisel’s creative imagination. Although this nomination is for a comedy series, Sewell’s performance is rooted in the dramatic, which may hurt his chances to bag the win.

Over the past thirty years, Sewell has managed to compile a reputable list of credits. He has appeared in shows the likes of BBC’sMiddlemarch” and Masterpiece Theatre’sVictoria” and also in films like 2001’s “A Knight’s Tale” and 2006’s “The Holiday.” Sewell is an actor audiences recognize, but don’t necessarily know his name. But with the soulful performance he gives in “Look, She Made a Hat,” one would hope that changes. The episode is a beautiful showcase of Sewell’s talents, and he deserves the name recognition that comes from being a consistently reliable actor.


  1. Peter MacNicol – “Veep” – Episode: “Oslo”
  2. John Mulaney – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: John Mulaney”
  3. Adam Sandler – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Adam Sandler”
  4. Luke Kirby – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “All Alone”
  5. Matt Damon – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Matt Damon”
  6. Robert De Niro – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: Sandra Oh”
  7. Rufus Sewell – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “Look, She Made a Hat”

Peter MacNicol – “Veep” – Episode: “Oslo” OR John Mulaney – “Saturday Night Live” – Episode: “Host: John Mulaney”

Rufus Sewell – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “Look, She Made a Hat”

Lin-Manuel Miranda – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” – Episode: “The Golden Child”

Who do you think will win Guest Actor in a Comedy Series this year? Let us know in the comments below.