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This story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
What is an Emmys network like Fox to do when it has no late-night talent to emcee TV’s biggest night? Enter Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and Saturday Night Live vet Andy Samberg, who promises he isn’t lying when he says it “took very little convincing” to get him on board for one of showbiz’s toughest gigs. Here, Samberg, 37, reveals his biggest fear, the A-listers he has hit up for advice (hello, Amy!) and the only people whose opinions really matter.
The show is now just days away. How nervous are you?
Panic ideas are now officially popping into my head.
What worries you most about hosting?
I’ve experienced highs and lows on that front on Saturday Night Live and hosting other shows. I can never predict if people will enjoy a joke. I just have to go for it, and the chips fall where they fall, you know?
Can we assume your Lonely Island buddies Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone are going to be involved? If so, are you planning any of your trademark digital shorts?
(Laughs.) Everyone has asked that, which makes me happy because they’re the best. We’re actually still talking about it, and doing pretaped stuff would definitely be our hope.
Have you talked to your friends Amy Poehler, who killed co-hosting the Globes, or last year’s Emmy host, Seth Meyers, for tips?
I’ve talked to Amy a bunch, but mostly about how to arrange the afterparty. (Laughs.) If it doesn’t involve dancing, she’s going to be very cross, so I’m making sure we have a good DJ. I’ve talked to Seth, too, about how many writers he had, what material he tried to avoid, etc. But he doesn’t do musical stuff, and Amy hosted with Tina Fey. Neither scenario is the same, so I’m hedging a lot of bets.
Is anything off-limits for you?
You use your best judgment and screen jokes to see how people react. But in general, my preference is not to do “hit” jokes. I like to keep it lighter.
It helps that a lot of the guests have been drinking heavily before the show.
You have to show up drunk because you can’t drink inside! Akiva, Jorma and I tried to bring flasks into the Creative Arts Emmys one year, and they got confiscated. That was a bummer.
Tina and Amy relied heavily on NBC’s late-night and SNL writers for Globes jokes. Who’s on your roster?
I’m working with Scott Aukerman and the writers from [IFC’s] Comedy Bang! Bang! But I’m also asking funny friends who are writers for their pitches, too.
In a post-Oscar-selfie world, integrating social media is key to audience engagement. What are your plans on this front?
If it feels funny and interesting, we will do something. I don’t want to shoehorn it into the show just to do it. What Ellen [DeGeneres] did at the Oscars was purely entertaining and silly and fun, and that’s why it worked.
How will you know if you’ve been successful as a host?
If my parents are proud and say I did well. And then I will generally avoid all social media. After I hosted Saturday Night Live, I didn’t look at the Internet for a week. I’d had so much fun; I didn’t want to know if people didn’t like it. But with the Emmys, you know within the first 10 minutes what people think. You’ll know early on how extra bummed to be at your own afterparty. So I’m going to keep my ears closed as much as possible — soak up the experience and maybe some tequila.
As long as Fox chairman and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden are happy, you’re probably good.
Yeah, it’s kind of like I have four parents, actually.
Sounds like a show concept!
My Four Parents! I’d have to throw Lorne Michaels in there for a grand total of five.
Most importantly, is the volleyball from Fox’s The Last Man on Earth going to make an appearance at the show?
I assume that’s [star and nominee] Will Forte‘s date, right? Who he always brings to events? I think the volleyball is his main squeeze, so I’m assuming yes.
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