How could you not love his iceberg impersonation?
Saturday Night Live - Season 42

It couldn't have happened to a more deserving iceberg: Bowen Yang on Tuesday became the first-ever featured player on Saturday Night Live to earn an Emmy nomination with his nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Bowen Yang
Bowen Yang as the Iceberg That Sank the Titanic on 'Saturday Night Live'
| Credit: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

We know: the nomination sounds confusing when so many comics have earned Emmy nods over the years. But 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.

It was a breakout year for Yang, SNL's first Chinese American cast member and the first openly gay man to ever survive past one season on the NBC variety show. Among his most notable achievements: Yang showed up at the Weekend Update desk as the Iceberg That Sank the Titanic. Co-written by Yang with Anna Drezen, the bit had the Iceberg promoting his new EDM fantasia album, not dredging up old, ahem, wounds. The sketch trended on Twitter throughout the next day.

Yang also reflected on Anti-Asian hate in a wry, sobering moment on Update. "It was a very emotional experience to write," he told EW in May for our annual Pride Issue. "On average, people work on two to three things a week; that was the only thing I worked on that week. I had spent seven hours on that first draft. It was really hard.… I had never been that microscopic with a piece more than I [was] with this."

The Australian-born comic also told EW that he was inspired by SNL mainstays Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph (both also 2021 Emmy nominees). "That's the weird part of this job: having even very cursory interpersonal relationships with these people," he told EW. "The fact that Kristen Wiig is telling me that she also had bad weeks is crazy! There's this very strong, shared, core understanding of the experience of working there, and she knew that I would relate to that. She didn't have to ask me, 'Are you having a good time?'"

The Emmy Awards will air Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS and be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

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Saturday Night Live - Season 42
Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

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