Attention, all pundits who are predicting that the Emmy for Best Comedy Actor will go to recent double champ Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) or Hollywood's current cool kid, Louis CK (Louie). Watch out for the notorious rascal in this race -- Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm).
Sure, David has lost four times in the past (2010, 2006, 2004, 2003) and he wasn't even nominated for acting when Curb was up for Best Comedy Series in 2008 and 2002. However, David has the best odds (21 to 10) to win, according to the editors of Gold Derby.
The reason: He submitted a brilliant episode of Curb to Emmy judges, who are currently evaluating a sample from all six nominees.
"Palestinian Chicken" is a comedy classic widely beloved by Hollywood insiders (who vote for the Emmys) and TV critics. The story set-up: Jewish David shrugs off Zionist loyalties when he tastes the chicken at a popular Palestinian restaurant. It's so yummy that he says that, if Palestinians would simply ship the chicken over to the people of Israel, Jewish leaders "would take down all of those settlements in the morning. Believe me."
He also gets a craving for the cupcake who runs the restaurant. Shara may be "the enemy," he notes, but "you're always attracted to someone who doesn't want you. Well, here you have someone who not only doesn't want you, but doesn't even acknowledge your right to exist, who wants your destruction. That's a turn-on!"
When David successfully turns on Shara in bed and strikes up a titillating relationship, he's pressured by his Jewish pals to protest the restaurant. And mayhem, of course, ensues.
David has submitted many funny episodes to Emmy judges in the past, but what makes this one exceptional is that his character is less smarmy than usual. He's even seems -- yikes -- reasonable while being graciously open-minded about Palestine's politics while savoring its chicken and chicks. Emmy voters might even feel like they're contributing to Mideast peace by giving David an overdue Emmy for acting. Previously, he won as writer and producer of Best Comedy Series Seinfeld in 1993. This year he's also nominated as producer of Curb, which is up for best comedy for the seventh time. It's never won.
The fact that Larry David has lost four times for acting is no big deal. Nor is it a problem that he's seen chiefly as a comedian (that is, not an actor) who essentially plays himself. Even though Ray Romano technically portrayed a sports writer instead of a comedy scribe on Everybody Loves Raymond, he was essentially himself as Ray Barone when he won Best Comedy Actor in 2002 after three previous defeats (1999-2001). Romano finally prevailed because he submitted a strong episode to Emmy judges ("The Breakup Tape").
On Curb, David really does play himself, of course. If he wins this year, he will become the third star to bag an Emmy in the series performance races for playing himself after victories in the guest categories by Emma Thompson (Ellen) and Betty White (The John Larroquette Show).
See the titles of all episodes submitted by nominees to Emmy judges at GoldDerby.com.