Watch: Out 'SNL' Comic Bowen Yang Opens Up About Historic Emmy Nom

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday July 14, 2021

Back in April, "Saturday Night Live" comic Bowen Yang co-wrote and starred in a skit that featured him as the iceberg that sank the Titanic. This week, it was announced Yang earned an Emmy nomination for the skit — a first for an "SNL" featured player, Variety noted.

The nom is in the category for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

According to Variety, "Yang originally considered nominating an episode in which he appeared in many sketches across the course of an evening." Though, in the end, he went with the iceberg sketch — an instant classic that sends up celebrity entitlement as well as having marked the anniversary of the great ship's sinking on April 15, 1912, a tragedy that cut the maiden voyage short.

Calling his nomination "nice," Yang recalled how the idea had been suggested by the show's head writer, Anna Drezen. As EDGE previously reported, Yang had been unsure at first about the idea, but once it was greenlit, he and Drezen worked feverishly to bring it to fruition.

As Variety recalled, during a "Tonight Show" appearance, Yang said he and Drezen "wondered right up until the broadcast of the show if the audience would like the sketch, because of its quirkiness."

Indeed they did. The sketch not only delighted audiences who tuned in but also took Twitter by storm after its initial airing. What's more, the out comic's piece, which characterized the iceberg as gay, fit right in with an episode that had a heavy LGBTQ vibe overall.

Yang's Emmy nomination is an extraordinary one considering he is in his second year as an "SNL" cast member after having spent a year as a writer on the show. With that, he is still considered a "featured player." Entertainment Weekly explained the distinction, saying that "a featured player is different than a regular cast member. Jokesters like Yang are generally considered featured players for their first two seasons. If they make it to a third season, they usually get promoted to regular cast members."

Moreover, Yang is the first Chinese American cast member on "SNL" and the first openly gay man to ever survive past one season on the NBC variety show," the outlet detailed.

The Huffington Post noted that a win for Yang would mean "he'll become the third Asian actor to win in an acting category in general, following Riz Ahmed in 2017 for 'The Night Of' and Archie Panjabi in 2010 for 'The Good Wife.'"

The Huffington Post also noted that, in March, Yang drew accolades for "speaking out against Asian American hate as part of a 'Weekend Update' segment," which is also where his iceberg made its appearance.

Variety wondered whether "Yang and the 'SNL' team" might "bring the iceberg back" for a subsequent outing, to which the comic replied: "I really don't know yet. It's up to Anna, for sure. She really shepherded that whole piece."

Watch the sketch below:

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.