Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor.

A look at the leading contenders for comedy guest roles this season.

Justin Timberlake
WHAT: Host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live
WHEN: 3/9/13
WHY: Timberlake’s fifth stint as host of SNL memorably affords him entrance to the “Five-Timers Club” alongside such SNL legends as Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin and showcases the effortless versatility that makes him terrifically good at everything, from straight comedy to self-parody to musical spoofs.
ONE-LINER: “Hi. I’m Ricky V.I.Penis. I do feminist porn because I know how to treat a lady right.”

Matthew Broderick
WHAT: Dave on ABC’s Modern Family (“Mistery Date”)
WHEN: 11/15/12
WHY: As a gay man whom Phil (Ty Burrell) meets at the gym and takes back to the house to watch a game, Broderick beautifully taps into the Modern Family wavelength with a performance that is at once underplayed and sensitively wrought. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has such a pro to play off of in Burrell.
ONE-LINER:
“I’m just coming out of a longterm relationship, and I guess I’m still pretty fragile.”

Related: Comedy Series Overview

Elaine Stritch
WHAT: Colleen Donaghy on NBC’s 30 Rock (“My Whole Life Is Thunder”)
WHEN: 12/6/12
WHY: The shameless scene-stealer Stritch has already earned four nominations in the category for her portrayal of Jack’s (Alec Baldwin) mouthy, fatalistic mother—winning in 2007. And here, she perishes onscreen at age 87 while riding in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park. It doesn’t get much better than that.
ONE-LINER:
“I have a few things I want to say to you before I meet the Grim Reaper—who is black, 
I assume, what with the hoodies he wears.”

Jess
1 year
But Bob Newhart's episode of BBT was a masterpiece, so I'm a little torn.
Jess
1 year
**Tom Haverford voice** That's nice and all, but Jenny Slate as Mona Lisa Saperstein on Parks and...
Rodney
1 year
Wrong. Timberlake is a natural to sketch comedy, and improvisation is very difficult yet he's skilled with...

Related: ‘Modern Family’ Scribes

Parker Posey
WHAT: Liz on FX’s Louie (“Daddy’s Girlfriend: Parts 1 and 2”)
WHEN: 7/19/12 and 7/26/12
WHY: Posey embodies perfect chemistry with star Louis C.K. as Liz, a manic, damaged, beguiling and clearly disturbed bookstore clerk whom Louie takes out on a fascinating date. She turns in the kind of performance that simply wouldn’t be nearly as good or affecting on a show with less creative freedom.
ONE-LINER:
“You’re fat, and I have no tits. Let’s be honest.”

Elizabeth Banks
WHAT: Sal on ABC’s Modern Family
(“Best Men”)
WHEN: 2/27/13
WHY: Party Gal Sal, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam’s (Eric Stonestreet) hard-partying best friend, is a reprise of a rousing role Banks played during the show’s first season. This time, she gets married, with Banks fully giving herself over to the moment in a lusty, sassy turn.
ONE-LINER:
“If I’m playing board games on a Saturday night, you can shoot me in the cranium.”

Melissa McCarthy
WHAT: Host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live
WHEN: 4/6/13
WHY: Few SNL hosts bring the sheer frenetic energy and brazen, do-anything spirit that McCarthy does. Her stint includes a memorably twisted sketch casting herself as an abusive women’s basketball coach and another as a hillbilly contestant on The Voice, among many others. All of that, and she has the courage to stagger onstage in outrageous 6-inch heels for her monologue.
ONE-LINER:
“You know you’re in New York when it’s springtime and even the rats are sneezing.”

Bob Newhart
WHAT: Professor Proton on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (“The Proton Resurgence”)
WHEN: 5/2/13
WHY: Newhart doesn’t appear a lot on series TV anymore, but the comedy legend makes an exception for this typically endearing, stammering, dryly witty performance as Prof. Proton, a onetime children’s entertainer and Sheldon’s (Jim Parsons) idol, who now is relegated to working the kiddie party circuit.
ONE-LINER:
“I’m awake, right? This is happening?”

Related:Big Bang Theory’s Science

Will Arnett
WHAT: Devon Banks on NBC’s 30Rock (“Game Over”)
WHEN: 1/10/13
WHY: As Jack’s (Alec Baldwin) evil, scheming, two-timing arch-rival Devon Banks, Arnett is the essence of comic perfection, having already been nominated four previous times and gunning for number five in 30 Rock’s final season. Arnett is still looking for his first Emmy win. And it’s now or never.
ONE-LINER:
“You’re the gay one. Wanting to be with a woman—how gay is that?”

Related: EMMYS: Comedy Farewells