September 24, 2012

Winning Emmy speeches



Click the infographics for more Emmys fun
Last night's Emmys speeches had a lot in common. Most of them were unprepared, thanked too many people, and were forgettable.

There were two that stood out to me, one for the clever opening and closing, and one for being well-crafted from start to finish (I'll get videos for you as as soon as they show up!).

First, Steven Levitan's speech as he accepted the award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.

He opened with, "First of all, I want to thank me for hiring me as a director when no one else would. I wouldn't be standing here without my faith in me."

He closed with, "I was complimenting a guest director recently on a job he did and he said, 'You know, with your cast and your crew and your writers, a complete idiot could direct a great episode of Modern Family.' And I think we've proven that tonight."

Humor pretty much always works, unless you don't know where you're going with it, like Kevin Costner's bizarre comparison of the Emmy to an Olympic sport. Humor is best in a situation like this when prepared and practiced in advance, except for observational humor which, by definition, is taken from what's happening in the moment.

And here's what I considered to be the best speech of the night: Tom Bergeron's for winning the award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. (Betty White was a fellow nominee, hence the reference.)

"This is particularly satisfying since Betty White always kicks my ass in our mixed martial arts class. (He turns to Betty White) It's emasculating; that's all I'm going to say to you.

I want to thank Jeff Probst for not being nominated; that helped.

I want to thank my family, most of whom know who they are.

And especially, I want to thank Conrad Green and everybody at Dancing With the Stars. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of that team.

And given that our all-star season premieres tomorrow, this is the icing on a very sweet cake. Thank you very much."

He started with humor, he ended with a plug for his show (nothing wrong with that at the Emmys!), and in between, he thanked people briefly -- who all know who they are -- and shared his heartfelt appreciation for his team.

I don't know if he was within his time, but he wasn't played off, so he must have been close.

Click to see infographic full size
If you think you can't have an opening, a closing, audience engagement and content in a short speech, think again! Emmys speeches are typically under a minute. And you complain that you "only" have five or ten minutes? Luxury!

If you haven't seen Christoph Waltz' wonderful Golden Globes and Academy Awards acceptance speeches for Inglourious Basterds (complete stories delivered in under 90 seconds), then watch here.

Here are some speeches with strong openings.

And here are some of my tips for better acceptance speeches overall. You never know; you might have to give one!

Here's a fun infographic (left) showing longest and shortest speeches, funniest speeches (Steven Levitan gives consistently funny speeches), most-thanked people, and more. I commented to my husband last night that Les Moonves must be the most popular person in Hollywood, and then I saw this infographic, which proved me right!

And for some truly expert tips, here's a sneak peak at a master class on giving Emmy speeches, taught by JA,N (Just Act, Naturally). Okay, it's Parker Posey. And funny.

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