You didn’t have any hesitation about doing it?
My biggest thing was, was it going to be virtual again? A virtual situation doesn’t necessarily appeal to me as a live performer and a stand-up. I don’t know if that would have been as sexy. But it was planned to be back in a venue with people giving out awards, having a good time. It will still be socially distanced and responsible. I’m the host, and I’m onstage by myself, so I won’t see none of you people. [Laughs.]
What kind of sensibility are you hoping to bring to this year’s show?
There was a lot of great television on in the past year and, due to the pandemic, many of us watched way more television than normal. We want to blend these things together — shows that you heard of but didn’t really watch, mixed with some shows that you know. Though we’re dressed up and wearing tuxedos, I don’t want that Oscars feel — that [haughty laughter] ha, ha, ha, ha.
Do you think that kind of elitism has been turning viewers off from awards shows in recent years?
I was telling the writers, let’s remove the velvet rope of it all — the feeling that, when you look at these shows, this is for them. Me being on a network sitcom … streamers and cable are really what the Emmys are about, the more avant-garde things. The smart television. It started to have this feeling like people aren’t really invited in the room. We all do a job here. Some people have more serious dramatic shows that are fun and interesting to watch. And some people have veg-out, “sit down and relax” television. Let’s take the judgment out. That’s what I want to do.
Is it hard for viewers to get excited about celebrating famous people in the midst of a pandemic?
People have very specific feelings about this and rightfully so. I definitely want the stars to come out and have fun. And there is a desire for that — people just want to experience a night out, done as safely as possible. But I also understand that on any given day, and depending on what our governor is feeling here, these things could change. I’m remaining hopeful at this moment — trying to have that spirit of, let’s get back to some normalcy.
Would it help to introduce some new award categories?
We’ve talked about this. Just the one line in the series that you love so much. The rest of the show was, eh, OK. But the way this person said that thing? Or when someone cried the hardest. There’s just not enough recognition for the specifics.
You’ve spent the pandemic catching up on series that you missed. Is there another show, besides your own, that you wish you could appear on?