Two Emmy Noms for Leslie Jones is Two TOO Many

2016 was not a good year for Leslie Jones. She left twitter due to near constant harassment from classic Ghost busters fanatics upset over the “all lady” reboot of the beloved franchise. Much of which was led on and encouraged by the once ubiquitous provocateur Milo Yiannpoulos. Then she had her personal website hacked. Whoever did it uploaded racist memes of Harambe and allegedly naked pictures of Ms. Jones.

This kind of behavior is completely and utterly reprehensible. Jones did nothing to deserve that kind of response from anyone. And even if she had done something truly horrible that doesn’t make harassing her permissible. Two wrongs do not make a right. This kind of nonsense has got to stop. Whether it comes from the alt-right or the left does not matter. We must return to civility.

That being said the Emmy Nominations have been revealed.

And it must be reiterated that two wrongs do not make a right.

This is the second year in a row that Jones has been nominated for best supporting actress in a comedic role for SNL. She does not deserve to be nominated for an award because her “work” is truly abysmal. I take no pleasure in saying such things. But it is the truth. Especially in light of her current very talented SNL peers she is truly a terrible actress.

Thankfully two of her much more talented co stars were also nominated. Kat McKinnon especially is deserving of a nomination. She is a truly brilliant comedic actress and someday will probably be recognized as just a great actress period. Her comedic timing and range of abilities puts to shame some of the greatest men and women comedians of all time, let alone the storied cast of SNL.

But Jones is her opposite in virtually every way. The current generation of SNL is probably the most talented overall since the 90s. While the skits are generally still lackluster the cast overall is quite excellent. McKinnon and Jay Pharoah alone have seriously raised the bar from the post Will Ferrell generation that was nothing if not putrescent.

Jones is by far the worst member of this current generation. This cannot be overstated. She is truly horrible at her job.

Comedic acting is the most difficult type of acting. Dramatic acting requires only that the actor simulate normal human emotion. Not everyone can do this of course because it does take natural ability that often cannot be developed. But comedic acting requires more because it must generate a response from the audience. Dramatic acting should serve a story or character in a more substantial capacity. But it is not required to elicit or accomplish anything in the moment besides serving the needs of the story and character. The best comedic actors build upon the basic tenets of “normal” acting but have to add something else.

They need to have a deeper more instinctual intuition regarding human nature. They need to know how to look foolish and how to look dignified. They need to be able to juxtapose normal confident flexible human psychology with the inflexible and the ridiculous.

Jones cannot do any of this. She is not convincing in any way or on any level. And while there are inferior comedic actors like Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld (very good stand up, horrible actor), or Kenan Thompson that are able to regularly elicit laughter a large part of that is due to their self awareness of how ludicrously bad they are as actors. Those kind of comedians are winking at you from the side. We all know what's going on. We get the joke. Because they let us in on it.

Jones cannot let us in on the joke because she genuinely seems to have no idea what is going on. On stage she exhibits no self awareness. In fact there seems to be an overabundance of confidence. Which is further proof that high self esteem does not make people happy. She approaches every line like a rhinoceros in some misguided attempt to be humorous, as if through force of will she can pummel the jokes into submission. She is an obvious blight in an otherwise lush field of comedy.

For example take this Star Wars montage sketch, she is the very last one to go which was a mistake in itself.

Part of the problem is the writing. They simply don’t know how to write for Jones. Her bit in the SW sketch would not have been funny regardless of who played it. But there’s a big difference between not funny and uncomfortable. She almost always be-clowns herself in an attempt to be funny, and it simply doesn’t work. The viewer fills pity and wants her to stop.

And notice that unlike the rest of the cast she did not play a celebrity. She was the only SNL cast member in this sketch cast as herself. Being able to do impressions is not an essential part of being a great SNL cast member. But its suspect that that she is regularly cast as herself and not as someone else.

But that was only a few seconds. Try to watch an entire sketch were she is actually featured.

It’s hard to sit through. The writing is weak to say the least. In fact the very premise of the sketch is awful. That’s where all good writing starts: the premise. But what premise could they give her? What sketch utilizes her talents? All she can do is be Leslie Jones. And sadly Leslie Jones isn’t funny. Its very telling that they often write for her as Lesley Jones. As far as I can tell they don’t do that for any other cast member. At least not with any regularity.

Almost the entire cast of GLOW is deserving of a nomination of some kind. Especially Alison Brie. Marc Maron may be the real star but her character and acting are what really drive the show. And yet inexplicably her costar Betty Gilpin was nominated instead. Of course Brie really deserves a nomination for best lead rather than supporting, and Gilpin’s performance especially this season was pretty spectacular. But with a few exceptions the entire cast of GLOW is absolutely fantastic. Any of those women is more deserving of a nomination than Jones. It simply isn't fair. And its probably unfair to numerous other comedic actresses. Suzanne Cryer is fantastic on Silicon Valley, and I don’t think she’s ever been nominated for an Emmy.

It’s hard not to see this as the committee trying to award Jones for her victim hood status instead of her merit. She was essentially added as a token minority hire in the first place after criticizing SNL. And she’s been a member of the cast since 2014. But it wasn’t until after her horrendous 2016 that she was nominated for an Emmy. Given how awful she is at her job its hard to find another explanation. Awards should at least attempt to be based on merit, otherwise they may as well be called pacifiers.

Educator, podcaster, & writer

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store