Comedy Continues to Take Over the Peabody Awards

Mel Brooks, Quinta Brunson, ‘Jury Duty’ and more will clean up at next month’s prestigious ceremony
Comedy Continues to Take Over the Peabody Awards

When the National Association of Broadcasters came together to create an award that would honor the bravest and most compelling storytellers in media back in 1938, they had no way of knowing that, 86 years later, the Peabody Awards would be celebrating a show about a fake trial over ruined T-shirts.

This June, Kumail Nanjiani will host the 84th Peabody Awards, where high society will hand out trophies to the most important voices in media and journalism. Among the honorees at this year’s affair are documentarians capturing the grim realities of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reporters covering radical groups that have infiltrated law enforcement in the American South, and, of course, Jury DutyMel Brooks and Bluey

The entertainment category of the awards ceremony has always featured artists who feel out of place at an event that was originally created to recognize radio broadcasters and journalists who served as the voices of medias most important issues, but, this year, the Peabody Awards will feel more like a “who’s who” of hilarious Saturday Night Live hosts than it ever has before.

Also among the honorees are Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson, Reservation DogsThe Bear and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver for the third time. At this point, the Peabody Awards are a better barometer for comedic talent than the Emmys.

Honoring comedians at one of media’s most distinguished and respected awards shows isn’t a new phenomenon — in 2015, the Peabodys did a late-night double-whammy by handing out awards to Jon Stewart and David Letterman in both of their last years at The Daily Show and The Late Show respectively. And last year, Brunson’s Abbott Elementary took home a Peabody alongside similarly serious journalists and documentarians as this year’s crop of honorees. So the tonal whiplash that will inevitably hit attendees at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel next month as Nanjiani has to segue from celebrating the journalists covering political violence in India to cracking jokes about Ronald Gladden’s gullibility and James Marsden smashing cakes will be par for the course for the event.

It’s interesting that, while the industry voters for entertainment-specific awards shows too often turn their noses up at all things comedy (looking at you, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s zero Emmy wins), the Peabodys, a ceremony that should, theoretically, have a haughtier, more serious selection process than the stupid Oscars, has fully embraced the power and importance of humor. 

Here, and nowhere else, comedy is actually overrepresented in entertainment accolades compared to other genres — and they’d probably never pretend that The Martian was a comedy, either.


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