Like no show on TV right now, 30 Rock has continuously dealt with the recession, turning a tragic situation into something hilarious. Whether it's investment bankers interning at 30 Rock or the crew bonding together to save their jobs, it's given us many laughs throughout the season.
So we turned directly to the source to interview Judah Friedlander, who plays the lovable writer Frank on the show, who dealt with his own career dilemma of becoming a corporate lawyer, or staying on as a TV writer. Judah is also known nationally for being a teen idol, and being the champion of the world, which means he's undefeated in, well, everything. He also manages to get by with a stand up routine or two here and there.
30Rock seems to be one of the few shows on prime time that has addressed the recession. Why is it important for your show to address topical issues?
I don't know that it is important. But Tina is great at writing topical material. I mean, she was the head writer at SNL for years. And on 30 Rock, she and the comedy writers manage to create comedy from so many different angles, it's really impressive. I don't know how they do it. They cram tons of jokes, in-jokes storyline, plot twists and character development into each episode. I'm starting to feel like I'm kissing ass, so I'm going to stop with this question now.
In one episode, all of the show's writers feared they might lose their jobs. Have you seen this kind of thing happen in real life in the TV business?
Yeah, I know lots of people who've lost their jobs -- in show biz and in all other types of non-showbiz jobs.
Your character Frank contemplated a return to corporate law. Did you ever see yourself going toward a more traditional career path?
Well, I still want to become a licensed surgeon. Currently, I have my own practice, but I am unlicensed.
What's the best money advice you've ever received?
Get paid in quarters and go right to the video arcade. That was in 1982.
How has the recession affected you?
Donald Trump calls me more often now. To borrow money.
What was your last big splurge?
I bought a 500,000 square foot garage for my spaceship.
How did you get started as a stand-up comedian?
Writing jokes for myself. Then doing open mics. And going on stage wherever and whenever I could. I first went on stage in 1989, and have been doing it ever since. I still do more than 10 shows a week.
Any advice for people who want to make it as comedians?
Yeah, stop networking and self-promoting and kissing ass -- and work on your act. Having a cool website, bad viral videos, and other fancy internet marketing techniques have nothing to do with becoming a good stand-up comedian. Many new comedians today seem to just want to get famous instead of get funny. My advice for people who want to get famous is: do anything but stand-up. You're f**- ing it up for real comedians and people who want to be stand-ups.. Oh yeah. Don't take a stand-up comedy class. Just write jokes and go on stage and try them out.
We always love seeing your roles in independent films (American Splendor, The Wrestler). Anything coming out soon we can look forward to?
I haven't been asked to be in a lot of movies recently. And I haven't been sent out on many auditions. I've been concentrating on my own stuff -- like making my stand-up comedy album and movie, a humor book, and cleaning my apartment. I've filmed some small-sized parts, but I don't know when they're coming out. I'm going to start making my own movies. And I want to do some low budget crazy independent horror/comedy/exploitation movies. But mostly I'm doing stand-up, and that's what I like doing the most.
What's the biggest perk of "making it" in the TV world?
Meeting professional wrestlers and top table tennis players.
For more information on upcoming shows and to join his very entertaining mailing list, head to Judahfriedlander.com.
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