WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Even before Elijah slayed at his White Men Can’t Jump: The Musical audition by belting out Smash’s “Let Me Be Your Star,” we’d already decided that, hell yes, we’d let his portrayer be our star. In the HBO comedy’s final season alone, he nailed moments as dramatic as Hannah’s roomie wrecking her by predicting she’d be a terrible mother and as hilarious as the apology in which he declared that “their” kid would grow up to be “the right kind of slutty.” Just don’t ask him to dribble.
ZACH WOODS, SILICON VALLEY
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: As Pied Piper’s hopelessly dorky cheerleader Jared, Woods is one of TV’s most reliable source of laughs. Jared’s meek demeanor still made him a popular punching bag in Season 4, but he got to let loose a little, too, whether through a frighteningly loud celebratory yelp, or by doing a convincing impression of a tech-bro douche on the phone. Woods’ precise, poker-faced portrayal of Jared’s awkwardness elevates every scene he’s in; we can’t wait to see how this guy will humiliate himself next.
TIMOTHY SIMONS, VEEP
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Now that Selina Meyer is out of the political spotlight, Jonah Ryan has replaced her as Veep‘s resident legislator, and Simons has never been funnier than during Jonah’s tumultuous first term in Congress. Armed with the HBO comedy’s most hilariously vulgar dialogue to date, Simons has brought to Jonah the perfect mix of bravado and ineptitude as he attempts to climb the D.C. ladder.
LOUIE ANDERSON, BASKETS
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Anderson could grab gold for a second straight year, coming off a Season 2 that served up showcase after showcase for Mrs. Baskets. As Christine experienced emotional highs (via unexpected romance with Carpet King Ken) and lows (Meemaw’s passing, learning that Denver omelettes were invented in New York), Anderson found new layer after layer to play. Throw in a finale in which Christine came to embrace son Chip’s love for clowning and thus revised her dream of a family business, and there is no arguing that Anderson has brought to life one of TV comedy’s great moms.
MEL RODRIGUEZ, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Todd was put through the emotional wringer in Season 3 as his mentally ill main squeeze Melissa (January Jones) slowly disappeared in front of his eyes, and Rodriguez deftly juggled every tricky beat of the dramatic/satirical/romantic storyline. But it’s his unwavering committment to a comedic bit (see: Todd’s mad dance moves and Shawshank Redemption riffs) that ultimately landed the actor on our Emmy short list. We should be so lucky to have him by our side in an apocalyse.
TITUSS BURGESS, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Honestly, Burgess pretty much cinched his third straight nomination with his spot-on Lemonade parody alone. But Kimmy’s flamboyantly vain roommate had a lot more to offer in Season 3: his gig putting crazy conspiracy theories into song (“Benghazi!/Hillary was there!”); his elaborate plan to use a gas-station bathroom without purchasing anything; and his ill-fated cruise-ship stint that may or may not have led to him eating Dionne Warwick. And through all that ridiculousness, Burgess was just ridiculously hilarious.