This was a big career highlight for Harry Shearer — he won his first Emmy tonight — and he wasn’t there to celebrate it. In fact, he wasn’t even awake when his name was announced as winner for Best Character Voice-Over performance category for his work on The Simpsons.
The veteran stage and screen actor is doing a play, Daytona, in London, and was asleep after doing two shows on Saturday, and didn’t even tweet about it until about 1 AM PDT (9 AM in London):
Later Sunday morning, he said, “I want to thank the Academy, for this incredible honor, and for the impeccable timing.” Asked to elaborate on the “impeccable timing part,” he said, “25 years. And getting it while I’m starring in a play in London’s West End.”
Shearer’s no-show was not out of character. The 70-year-old actor, whose satirical Le Show runs on many public radio stations, is known for marching to a drum perhaps only he can hear, and for being something of a rebel.
In 2011, he rallied the rest of The Simpsons cast during their salary renegotiations to pursue a piece of the long-running show’s lucrative back-end. Shearer was the only member of The Simpsons‘ primary voice cast to not have won an Emmy. Surprisingly, he had only been nominated once before, in 2009, for his 25 seasons on the show. (He has two previous writing team nominations, one in 1978 for America 2-Night and one in 1980 for Saturday Night Live.)
The episode that finally won Shearer his first Emmy was last season’s Four Regrettings and a Funeral, in which Shearer does some of his most popular characters, including Kent Brockman, Mr. Burns, Younger Burns and Smithers. It was not only Shearer’s first Emmy, it was also the first Emmy in the newly spun-off best character voice-over category. Splitting the narrator and character voice-over fields likely helped Shearer. Just last year, the voice-over Emmy trophy went to Lily Tomlin for a narration performance.
Fox’s animated comedies also produced another under-the-radar winner, as Bob’s Burgers landed the best animated program trophy. Not a ratings dynamo nor a pop culture phenomenon like The Simpsons or Family Guy and without the pedigree of American Dad! from Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, Bob’s Burgers has nonetheless become an industry darling.
Creator Loren Bouchard and exec producer Jim Dauterive are well liked by their peers, as is the cast, consisting mostly of standup comedians who aren’t particularly well known beyond the business. Hopefully the Emmy will help the underrated comedy get some scheduling love. It was banished to the low-traffic Sunday 7 PM slot this past spring and moves to 7:30 PM this fall.