Since premiering on October 11th of 2006, NBC’s hilarious sitcom 30 Rock has continued to gained a strong audience, making it one of the most popular new sitcoms of the last ten years. The show has an amazing cast headlined by writer/creator Tina Fey and backed by Alec Baldwin and Tracey Morgan. With so much funny being thrown around, you can imagine it would be hard to get noticed amongst these heavy weights. But that’s exactly what comedian Jack McBrayer has done. His sweetly innocent Kenneth Parcell, a cheerful NBC page, has become the breakout star of 30 Rock, and his reputation in the history of sitcoms is right up there with all those other legendary supporting characters that have became more popular than their leads. Just like Fonzie on Happy Days and Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys, some audience members tune in week to week just for Kenneth’s friendly smile alone.
On October 30th, 2008, 30 Rock returns for its third season. And Kenneth Parcell will be there to welcome the entire cast back with that trademark Georgia accent. We recently caught up with McBrayer, the brilliant mind behind Kenneth, to chat with him about both the upcoming new season and his comedic turn in the Forgetting Sarah Marshall [WS] [Collector's Edition] [3 Discs] DVD. Here is our conversation:
What can we expect to see from Kenneth this season?
Jack McBrayer: You will be seeing a lot of the same stuff. I will be doing this menial, subservient job. There will be a lot of me just being appalled at the immorality of some of the people in the building. There is some pretty crazy stuff. I do have a lot of scenes with Tracey Morgan. Which I am really excited about.
How do you feel your character has evolved from the first season to now?
Jack McBrayer: That is a good question. I think the writers are using Kenneth a little bit more. But I think that’s because they see he has a dynamic that works. Kenneth is so low status. And everybody else has their own flavor of crazy going on. Alec Baldwin is of super high status, and Tracey is just so super crazy. Jane Krakowski is super vain. I think they could just plug me in anywhere. Either way, I’m going to lose.
Is there anything that you are particularly excited to shoot this season?
Jack McBrayer: We’ve already had a slew of fantastic guest stars. One show that I was particularly excited about was one where we do some scenes with the cast of Night Court.
Jack McBrayer: Yeah, it was the craziest thing ever. But it was super fun. Those guys were super fun. It was just such an absurd storyline that I think people will really love it, or they will hate it.
The blonde from Night Court goes to my Roller Skating Rink.
Jack McBrayer: Markie Post?
Jack McBrayer: Your Roller Rink?
Yes, the Moonlight Rollerway.
Jack McBrayer: Wait, you roller skate? You’re kidding me!
Every Monday. Its adult night. You should come by if you are in town.
Jack McBrayer: (Laughs) That is too funny. If it is her, you are going to have to go up and introduce yourself.
I have an in now.
Jack McBrayer: Finally!
You guys are all obviously masters of the Improv over at 30 Rock. Are the scripts usually locked down, or do they allow you room to play?
Jack McBrayer: It’s usually a time restriction. That’s what keeps us from going off the handle with our improv. That being said, we are allowed to tweak stuff. Or put a button on a scene. Most of the time, the writers are so dead on with the words. Also, a thirty-minute show is really just twenty-two minutes. So it is pretty tight. The writers are always open to suggestions from the cast. And that is pretty fun, and its pretty flattering.
Since you are doing the series, do you ever have time to return to the live stage?
Jack McBrayer: Oh, yes. Amy Poehler, who is on Saturday Night Live, owns a theater in New York called Upright Citizens Brigade. A bunch of the Saturday Night Live people perform their on Sunday’s in a show called Ass Cat. I really couldn’t tell you why it’s called that. (Laughs) It is super fun. It is a good way for us working Joes got keep our creative juices flowing.
You guys are going to be doing a live version of 30 Rock this season, right?
Jack McBrayer: I really don’t know. The reason we did the live version last year was because of the writers’ strike. We wanted to raise some funds for the production staff and the crews that had been put out of work. I don’t know if they are planning on another one just for the heck of it this year, or what? But it was super fun, and it went over very well.
Did you guys do anything new for the 30 Rock Season 2 DVD that is coming out?
Jack McBrayer: Yeah, I did commentary on a couple of episodes with Jane Krakowski, and I got to do a commentary with Tim Conway for an episode. That was pretty fantastic.
That’s a nice afternoon.
Jack McBrayer: Oh, my gosh! It was amazing. He is like my comedy idol. To be able to sit in those easy chairs and watch ourselves on screen, and then laugh about it, was really fantastic. That was a huge honor.
You also have the Forgetting Sarah Marshall DVD coming out, which I believe is unrated.
Jack McBrayer: Absolutely! It comes out on the 30th.
What was it like getting to hang out in Hawaii with this crazy crowd?
Jack McBrayer: It was awesome! I had never been to Hawaii before, not to mention it was an Apatow film. Which is always a good time. The script was so much fun. The cast was just so phenomenal, and multi-talented. And I was in Hawaii for a whole month!
I know! That is so awesome!
Jack McBrayer: It was great.
Did you get a tan?
Jack McBrayer: Did I ever. In fact, the make-up people were yelling at me. Because of the continuity. Because I would just keep getting tanner and tanner.
With it being unrated, are we going to see some extra nasty business on there?
Jack McBrayer: You wont see any of that Jason Segal business on me. I don’t even now what to expect from that DVD. I know that I will have some outtakes on there. And they will have a Line-O-Rama, which is just all of this improvised stuff we did during the different takes. And we did get to do a DVD commentary track on that as well. It was weird, because I was in New York at the time, so I was just sitting there a whole country away. Everyone else was in Los Angeles. But it was fun getting to hear everybody and do bits with them.
Does this mean you are going to do a cameo in Get Him to the Greek?
Jack McBrayer: I don’t know. It might be harder because I am already established as this Mormon prude. But maybe that is actually a good idea. Maybe I will make a phone call.
Do it. Make that call!
Jack McBrayer: Yes, I will make that call. Wouldn’t the nerd from their Honeymoon be at the Greek? Of course he would.
Of course, I have to ask…What was it like working with Mimi?
Jack McBrayer: (Laughs) Mimi was delightful!
Who is the bigger diva? You are Mimi?
Jack McBrayer: It was crazy. It was the most surreal thing, ever. But she was lovely. You know, she is a fan of comedy. She is a fan of 30 Rock, that’s how I got the call. It was a lovely experience. But it was certainly the most surreal thing I’ve ever done. It was fun. And I enjoyed it.