Chaos ruled the beginning of the 2019 Emmys opening. First, Homer Simpson has a piano dropped on him on stage. Then, Anthony Anderson frantically ran around backstage attempting to save the show, and ended up choosing Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston for a rousing speech on the importance of television.
However, the most unsettling moment of the Emmys arrived when first presenter Ben Stiller (director of limited series nominee Escape at Dannemora) introduced a terrifying group of statues made in the likeness of dead comedy greats… and then one started blinking. It was Bob Newhart, who is most certainly not dead, as he told Stiller before threatening to kick his ass on stage. After all, which living person would want to be a part of Ben Stiller’s “Weird Wax Museum of comedy,” as 90-year-old Newhart joked.
Immediately, Newhart became the funniest person at the Emmys. It’s a fact that is in no way surprising for people who know Newhart’s past as a comedy icon. The actor is a nine-time Emmy nominee who got his first nod all the way back in 1962 for his writing on The Bob Newhart Show. That was also the year Newhart got his first Golden Globe nomination. However, Newhart didn’t win an Emmy until 2013 for his guest acting performance on CBS’ comedy giant The Big Bang Theory.
While 25 Days of Christmas obsessives probably recognize Newhart from 2003’s holiday movie classic Elf, he had three classic series long before Will Ferrell ever put on his Buddy costume. First, there was The Bob Newhart Show, which ran from 1961 to 1962. Then there was The Bob Newhart Show of the 70s, which aired for six years between 1972 and 1978. Then, finally, there was Newhart from 1982 to 1990.
As comic writer Saladin Ahmed pointed out on Twitter, Newhart used those series, and his dozens of other comedy appearances (including Legally Blonde 2, The Rescuers Down Under, and Desperate Housewives) to create dry comedy. No wonder he could make the entire world laugh just by blinking at the Emmys.