Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

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The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series debuted in 1957, and has been annually awarded most years since 1964. It has had many slight name changes, mostly involving the addition or subtraction of the word comedy. Generally, the category has recognized the writers of variety and sketch comedy shows. However, in 1957, 1964, and 1979, it was the main category for writers of situation comedies, which have otherwise been recognized in a wholly separate category.

For most of the 1970s, the category was effectively split into two branches. From 1971 to 1978, one-off specials were awarded separately from ongoing series. Since then, the writers of one-off variety specials have competed against series writers, and have very occasionally won, as in 1991 and 2000. This has led to some anomalies, such as when a special edition of Late Night with David Letterman beat out regular editions of The Tracey Ullman Show and Saturday Night Live in 1987 — despite the fact that typical episodes of Late Night were not nominated that year.

The category eventually found greater stability with its name in 1982, when it settled on Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program for almost two decades. In 2000, it added the word comedy, thus allowing for the current form of the name. Of all the writing Emmy categories, it has recently become the one most dominated by cable networks. Since 1996 it has been won by a major terrestrial broadcaster only twice, with the overwhelming majority of winners coming from HBO and Comedy Central.

List of winners[edit]

The following list of winners in this category is organized both by year and the name being used by the category in that year.

Best Comedy Writing – Variety or Situation Comedy[edit]

  • 1957: The Phil Silvers Show – Billy Friedberg, Nat Hiken, Coleman Jacoby, Arnold Rosen, Leonard B. Stern, and Tony Webster
  • 1958 to 1963: No awards

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy or Variety[edit]

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety[edit]

  • 1966: An Evening with Carol Channing – Hal Goldman, Al Gordon, and Sheldon Keller
  • 1967: The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Show – Mel Brooks, Sam Denoff, Bill Persky, Carl Reiner, and Mel Tolkin

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Music or Variety[edit]

  • 1968: Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In – Chris Bearde, Phil Hahn, Jack Hanrahan, Coslough Johnson, Paul Keyes, Marc London, Allan Manings, David Panich, Hugh Wedlock, and Digby Wolfe

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy or Variety[edit]

  • 1969: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour – Allan Blye, Bob Einstein, Carl Gottlieb, Cy Howard, Steve Martin, Jerry Music, Murray Roman, Cecil Tuck, Paul Wayne, and Mason Williams
  • 1970: Annie, The Women in the Life of a Man – Gary Belkin, Peter Bellwood, Thomas Meehan, Herb Sargent, and Judith Viorst

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety or Music[edit]

  • 1971: The Flip Wilson Show – Herbert Baker, Hal Goodman, Larry Klein, Bob Schiller, Norman Steinberg, Bob Weiskopf, and Flip Wilson
  • 1972: The Carol Burnett Show – Art Baer, Roger Beatty, Stan Burns, Stan Hart, Don Hinkley, Ben Joelson, Woody Kling, Mike Marmer, Arnie Rosen, and Larry Siegel
  • 1973: The Carol Burnett Show – Bill Angelos, Roger Beatty, Stan Hart, Robert Hilliard, Woody Kling, Arnie Kogen, Buz Kohan, Gail Parent, Tom Patchett, Larry Siegel, and Jay Tarses

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy, Variety, or Music Special[edit]

  • 1971: Singer Presents Burt Bacharach – Bob Ellison and Marty Farrell
  • 1972: The Trial of Mary Lincoln – Anne Howard Bailey
  • 1973: Acts of Love and Other Comedies – Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor

Outstanding Writing in Variety or Music[edit]

  • 1974: The Carol Burnett Show – Roger Beatty, Gary Belkin, Dick Clair, Rudy De Luca, Arnie Kogen, Barry Harman, Barry Levinson, Jenna McMahon, Gene Perret, Bill Richmond, and Ed Simmons

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy – Variety or Music Series[edit]

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Special[edit]

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series[edit]

Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program[edit]

  • 1980: Shirley MacLaine ..."Every Little Movement" – Buz Kohan

Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program[edit]

Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program[edit]

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Series[edit]

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series[edit]

Year Program Writers Network
20112012
(64th)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Tim Carvell, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, and Jon Stewart Comedy Central
The Colbert Report Barry Julien, Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell, Richard Dahm, Michael Brumm, Rob Dubbin, Opus Moreschi, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Glenn Eichler, Meredith Scardino, Max Werner, Eric Drysdale, Scott Sherman, Dan Guterman, and Paul Dinello Comedy Central
Portlandia Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, and Karey Dornetto IFC
Real Time with Bill Maher Adam Felber, Matt Gunn, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Mike Larsen, Bill Maher, Billy Martin, and Scott Carter HBO
Saturday Night Live James Anderson, Alex Baze, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Shelly Gossman, Steve Higgins, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Christine Nangle, Michael Patrick O'Brien, Paula Pell, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, John Solomon, Kent Sublette, Bryan Tucker, and Emily Spivey NBC
20122013
(65th)
The Colbert Report Michael Brumm, Nate Charny, Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Rob Dubbin, Eric Drysdale, Glenn Eichler, Dan Guterman, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Bobby Mort, Tom Purcell, Meredith Scardino, and Max Werner Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Travon Free, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Lauren Sarver, and Jon Stewart Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Gary Greenberg, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Josh Halloway, Bess Kalb, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Loveness, Molly McNearney, Bryan Paulk, Danny Ricker, and Rick Rosner, ABC
Portlandia Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, and Bill Oakley IFC
Real Time with Bill Maher Scott Carter, Adam Felber, Matt Gunn, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Bill Maher, Billy Martin, and Danny Vermont HBO
Saturday Night Live James Anderson, Alex Baze, Neil Casey, James Downey, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Joe Kelly, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, Mike O'Brien, Josh Patten, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, Robert Smigel, John Solomon, Kent Sublette, and Bryan Tucker NBC
20132014
(66th)
The Colbert Report Michael Brumm, Nate Charny, Aaron Cohen Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Gabe Gronli, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Sam Kim, Matt Lappin Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Tom Purcell, Meredith Scardino, and Max Werner Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Rory Albanese, Dan Amira, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Travon Free, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Matt Koff, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Lauren Server, and Jon Stewart Comedy Central
Inside Amy Schumer Emily Altman, Jeremy Beiler, Neil Casey, Kyle Dunnigan, Jessi Klein, Kurt Metzger, Christine Nangle, and Amy Schumer Comedy Central
Key & Peele Rebbeca Drysdale, Colton Dunn, Keegan-Michael Key, Jay Martel, Jordan Peele, Ian Roberts, Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders, and Rich Talarico Comedy Central
Portlandia Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Karey Dornetto, Jonathan Krisel, and Graham Wagner IFC
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Patrick Borelli, Gerard Bradford, Luke Cunningham, Mike DiCenzo, Mike Drucker, Jess Dweck, Dicky Eagan, Jimmy Fallon, John Haskel, Michael Jann, Josh Lieb, Arthur Meyer, A.D. Miles, Chase Mitchell, Dan Opsal, Gavin Purcell, Jon Rineman, Albertina Rizzo, Jason Ross, and David Young NBC

References[edit]

General: