Actor and comedian Andy Samberg wants to deliver plenty of laughs when he hosts the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, so that means he's getting very serious behind the scenes.
The "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star reveals that he's binging on a plethora of the nominated series that he hasn't seen or only sampled, in order to get the most complete feel of the landscape of the top tier of television quality as he heads in to helm the medium's biggest celebration airs live on his sitcom's home network FOX on Sept. 20.
"I'm definitely watching more than I normally would," the former "Saturday Night Live" player explains. "It's more just researching them all, 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. Talking about how there's so many more shows every year now, it does make it a slightly bigger challenge to cover everything."
"It's also a little more challenging to bring all the viewers under one umbrella of consciousness of the television culture," Samberg adds. "There's some people who only watch this kind of show, and other people watch this kind of show. So 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, but you know the headlines of the big stories on TV this year."
As Samberg met with the press, he revealed a bit more about his take on the hosting gig and his emerging plans for Emmy night, plus a little tease on what's ahead for the third season of his sitcom.
Did you say yes to this offer right away, or did you want to think about it a bit?
Andy Samberg: Yes, right away, absolutely...I think most people in comedy, so many incredible comedians do these shows. And looking at the pedigree of past hosts, it's such an honor to be asked, you've got to say yes.
Did any of the past hosts give you any advice?
Well, I've been talking to Seth [Meyers], who hosted last year. He says it's a blast. And I just have been asking little things here and there.
Is it more nerve‑racking than other gigs?
Not yet, but I think when it comes closer, it probably will be, yeah. Although I did seven years of "SNL," and that's live in front of millions of people...I think doing the show, itself, is really fun. I'm going to just try and not look at the Internet for a week after. I think it's unwinnable in that way. But kind of everything is at this point, except for like three things a year. I think I'm going into it just going to try and make it as funny as I can possibly make it, but stick to the rule I always do which is: if I think it's funny, I'll go for it.
How old were you when you first started paying attention to Emmys ceremonies and started watching them?
Oh, that's a good question. Probably like college. I mean, my folks weren't like huge Emmy watchers. I've always been aware of the Emmys, just like you're always aware of the Oscars.
Were there hosts back then that you really gravitated toward?
I've noticed it more recently, more since I've gotten into comedy. Seeing people like Conan [O'Brien] or Jane Lynch or Jimmy [Fallon] or Seth -– people like that, I really respect.
Are there any musical numbers that you're going to participate in?
I certainly hope so, yeah. I've had good success with music stuff in the past. But again, it's got to be the right idea.
You literally have the chance to walk away with every Emmy Award on this show.
Like, I could steal them all! Yeah, I could do that... [But] you know, I have one, so I feel pretty good about it. I'm holding out that they'll give me like an honorary one for hosting.
Have you put much thought into putting that balance of your brand of comedy and what the Emmy ceremony requires?
I think there is a fine line. I like things maybe a little weirder than the broadest version of this show, from a hosting perspective. But I don't know. It's been ten years since I first started on "SNL." I've got a little better gauge on what I can get away with, with a bigger audience and a smaller audience.
How do you find that gauge?
Just if everyone's laughing at it, I tend to be like, "Let's go for it." That's always my barometer. Sometimes there will be something that you know is funny in the room, but is going to push the wrong buttons. You don't want to take that out there, because it's just not worth it if people respond the wrong way. So that's the main editing process, I think, aside from whatever you think is funniest is making sure that you don't accidently piss people off or do something that's insensitive.
Doing something live like the Emmys, are you pretty much given free range to go wherever you want?
I'll be more or less on script. I mean, I think we'll try and play the room as it comes. If interesting things happen, we'll hopefully comment on those things. I always enjoy it when hosts do that.
Is it exciting to do those in-the-moment jokes? Billy Crystal's one of the masters of that.
Yeah, without a doubt. Again, I keep saying this because you never know, but if it feels right, you do it. I think there's a danger to wanting to force those things in too, and people are like, "Yeah, we didn't really care about that moment that you're harping on" [laughs].
You're also at work on your day job. How's the season going on "Brooklyn Nine Nine?"
The season, so far, has been awesome. I'm really happy to be back. They announced that my good friend Bill Hader is going to be coming in as Captain.
How does he shake up the precinct?
I'm not supposed to say anything more than that he's coming, so I'm going to stick to that because I don't want to get fired. But he will bring his patented brand of Bill Hader humor.
Can you tell us where the show picks up?
It picks up the moment that we left off in last year's finale. So it's like "Karate Kid 1" into "Karate Kid 2."