When the Emmy nominations were released this morning, "Between Two Ferns" — everyone's favorite irreverent interview show — was recognized for the third consecutive year. This year, the series was nominated for its impeccably cringeworthy episode with Brad Pitt.
Scott Aukerman, who you may know as the host of the IFC show "Comedy Bang! Bang!," is an executive producer on "Between Two Ferns," which makes him an Emmy winner as well — the immensely popular episode with President Obama won a statuette last year.
Aukerman was instrumental in the creation this year of an Emmy category just for sketch comedy shows, and this year's nominees include hits like "Inside Amy Schumer," "Key and Peele," and "Drunk History."
While Aukerman's "Bang! Bang!" wasn't nominated, he and staff will write this year's ceremony for host Andy Samberg.
When Aukerman joined us on The Frame, he talked about his involvement in the creation of the new sketch category, the pitfalls of making TV for a niche audience, and the culture of diversity and creativity being fostered in sketch comedy right now.
This is the question that I think is on the top of everyone's mind in America right now: Who, or what, I guess, is Scott Aukerman going to wear to the Emmys? Or, does the executive producer of an "Outstanding Short Format Live Action Entertainment Program" even get a ticket?
[laughs] Boy, that is the longest, most boring-sounding category. Yeah, this is actually my third nominee in this category. We won last year, and yeah, so we get a ticket! When you say, "Who am I wearing?," it sounds like I'm going to be wearing a human pelt, like Hannibal is going to be skinning someone alive and flaying someone. But I'll probably wear some sort of tuxedo that I can hopefully fit into.
About a year ago you wrote an open letter to the Television Academy, and I'm quoting a part where you ask, "Why don't we create a new sketch comedy category and spread around some of the love? If there can be what seems like 12 categories honoring incredibly specific types of makeup, surely we can be a little more precise with how we honor comedy." You got your wish, right?
I did! It was pretty interesting, because that letter came out and pretty soon afterwards the Television Academy wrote to me and said they were considering it. And then they included me in the discussion about it.
I had a phone conversation with them about why I thought this way. They wanted to make sure that there would be enough nominees or potential nominees in each category, were they to split it up, and once I started rattling off all the potential sketch shows, they realized that there's a whole bunch of shows out there that never, never get nominations. I think "Saturday Night Live" is the only true sketch show that's been included in the [variety series] category in the last decade.
Why did you think this was necessary? Was it as much an issue of the category becoming a little fuzzy as it was, or that there was a monopoly of winners?
There are two reasons. Number one: the types of comedy that you see on sketch shows were never winning; it was a talk show every year, and that's been the case for at least a decade, if not more. It was always "The Daily Show," "Colbert Report," and occasionally Letterman or something [else] would win. So sketch shows were just not even being nominated, let alone winning.
Secondly, I think there's not a lot of diversity in terms of nominees in that category. Every single year, it's another collection of five white, straight males, but now, with the sketch nominees this year, you have women, people of color, people of different sexual orientation. Even drunk people! [laughs] Suddenly there's a lot more diversity in what's being recognized, and I think it's very exciting.
I wonder if there's a part of you that feels like you won the war but lost the battle? After all, "Comedy Bang! Bang!" wasn't nominated. Is this a little bittersweet for you?
I didn't really expect to be nominated in the category. My show is a tiny sketch comedy show that not a lot of people have heard of. It's very well-respected and it actually was on a lot of critics' lists for nominations, which sort of psyched me out for a minute, [thinking], Wait a minute, is this even possible? I think the fact that not a lot of people have heard of it always hinders it being nominated. Maybe next year.
So you actually get a lot of love from the community for which you went to bat, even if the community didn't return the favor?
That's right. [laughs] But I do just think it's an exciting time to be looking at this category. We're writing the Emmys this year, my staff and I, and we were in the planning stages in a meeting, and just seeing the diversity that's going to be out there on the telecast is really exciting. Once we started realizing that Amy Schumer and Key and Peele would be there, that's really exciting for the broadcast, instead of just having Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They're great, but it's the same people every year.
But there is sort of a reward for you, in that the entire staff of "Comedy Bang! Bang!" is working on the Emmys.
Yes, the entire staff, so this is their brush with Emmy gold -- to be backstage in a small room, watching other people win things.
How did that come about? And can you write yourself in as the winner of your category?
It came about because Andy Samberg is hosting the Emmys this year and I've known Andy for a while, ever since I was his head writer on the MTV Movie Awards. He's a huge fan of ["Comedy Bang! Bang!"], so he approached me and head writer Neil Campbell about being on it, and I said, "If you can take our entire writing staff, then we can all do it."
He's such a big fan of the show that he said yes. So we're all going to be writing the Emmys this year, which is crazy. And as for your second question, yes, I can.
That's part of the deal?
That's part of the deal, you're allowed to win one Emmy, so yeah, we're bringing home the gold this year.