Paging 30 Rock

(Originally published in The California Aggie)

A pack of wild dogs took over and successfully ran a Wendy’s! The sewer people stole my skateboard! I once saw a baby give another baby a tattoo –

Oh, sorry. Let me close 30rockquotes.com before we go any further.

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I am obsessed with the NBC comedy genius that is “30 Rock,” in all its MILF Island, Kabletown, Kenneth “the Page”, Tracy Jordan glory. In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

So you can imagine the fangirl squeal that erupted inside me when I opened my Gmail inbox last month and saw the following e-mail: “Conference Call ’30 Rock’ Star Jack McBrayer and EP Robert Carlock.”

What the what?!

As California Aggie arts editor and recipient of any e-mail – personal, spam, mass-sent or otherwise – that comes through the arts inbox, I’d gotten conference call invites before, but this was the mother lode. I couldn’t delete this one, not when there was actually the chance I could talk to Kenneth “the Page” Parcell and an executive producer of one of the funniest television shows of all time. I had to accept.

When the day of the call finally came, I was a nervous wreck. I waited, heart pounding, as reporters from around the country asked their questions.

The first question, from a guy from a celebrity news website, was one I’d wanted to ask: “How are you preparing for the live episode?” (yes, one episode this season will be performed live, a la “Saturday Night Live”). Executive producer Carlock answered that he’d just read a draft of the script and they’re considering having different actors play the main roles in flashbacks and jump cuts, because the actors can’t “teleport” from one set to the next. Awesome.

Asked what was in store for Kenneth in the upcoming season, Jack said we’ll get to see Kenneth wear something other than his page uniform, which, he added, laughing, would be “jarring.”

Suddenly, it was my turn. Praying that my voice wouldn’t tremble as much as my hands currently were, I said, “Jack, are there any similarities between you and your character, Kenneth?”

“Well, to some extent. I tend to be a people-pleaser and I try to be good at my job,” he said in his good-natured Southern drawl. “I’d love to think I’m not as annoying as Kenneth, but maybe my coworkers can say otherwise.”

“He refuses to take the costume off!” Robert Carlock chimed in.

“Yeah, they didn’t even dress me in that,” Jack said, giggling.

Was I dreaming? Were the star and executive producer of “30 Rock” actually joking around in response to a question I’d asked?!

Unfortunately, I completely lack the ability to banter, especially with famous people and even more especially when I’m nervous, so I merely laughed, said “Thank you,” and my turn was over.

Still shaking, but now with a huge grin plastered over my face, I sat in a daze as the conference continued around me. I hung around long enough to listen to an Israeli reporter try to convince Jack and Robert to film an episode in Israel before hanging up.

So, okay, I didn’t ask the most groundbreaking question, and I was too star-struck to join in the joking around and get a longer answer, but for my first celebrity interview it wasn’t half bad. Next time I’d be better, and I’d always have bragging rights that I’d made two comedians from my favorite TV show laugh, albeit indirectly.

When it’s time for my conference call with Johnny Depp, I’ll be ready. And until then, as Tracy Jordan would say, you gotta live every week like it’s Shark Week.

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