'30 Rock' live: Discuss the second time Tina Fey didn't pre-tape
“Live television? Who cares?” Kenneth cares! And so do I. Tina Fey & Co. totally delivered on their second installment of the 30 Rock live show, and it featured special guests galore: Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Jimmy Fallon, Donald Glover, Fred Armisen, and even Sir Paul McCartney. You know, because anything can happen on live TV! But on to the plot: In “Live From Studio 6H” Jack broke the news to Liz that it was no longer financially practical to continue shooting TGS live. Instead, they’d shoot the entire season of the show in two weeks. You know, like Wheel of Fortune or Fox News.
Kenneth couldn’t let TGS end its live shows, so he called a meeting to defend the sacred tradition of live TV. And that was the premise for the show. He locked most of the cast into a dressing room, swallowed the key, and wouldn’t let them out until they saw the light. While in the dressing room, they reminisced about some of the greatest moments live television brought us: the moon landing, the Beatles, The Voice results show. But a series of “flashbacks” provided the fodder for the rest of the show.
Meanwhile Jenna — who wasn’t locked in the room with everyone else — was preparing for her engagement to Paul. She wanted to ensure her proposal made it on TGS before it closed its live doors. The engagement ring (Liza Minnelli’s baby tooth surrounded by rubies that passed through a terrified Michael Kors) was ready, Paul just needed to pop the question. When he finally did on TGS as she requested, she declined because she didn’t want to get engaged for the publicity. But I think it’s safe to say her no was essentially a yes anyway.
Now for those aforementioned flashbacks: First up was The Lovebirds, a Honeymooners-esque black and white show about a married couple Doris (Tina Fey) and Larry (Alec Baldwin). Sadly, both characters suffered heart attacks. Next up was The Joey Montero Show. Host Joey (Alec Baldwin) wiggled around the stage and Dusty Springfield (Jane Krakowski) made an appearance.
Then we were treated to Alfie and Abner, a parody of Amos ‘n’ Andy. A brief history lesson: Amos ‘n’ Andy was first a radio comedy series before making the move to TV in the ’50s. The two main black characters, Amos and Andy, were controversially voiced by white actors for the radio version. It was no surprise that they poked fun of that by having Jon Hamm make his first cameo of the night as Abner. Alfie (Tracy Jordan) couldn’t handle it, and I couldn’t stop laughing at their on-set tension.
The Gruber Brothers and Nipsey show was cut short by an NBC News special report with Chet Huntley (Alec Baldwin) and David Brinkley (Jon Hamm). They reported the news of the Apollo 13 spacecraft explosion, but perhaps more shocking was their correspondent Jamie Garnett (Tina Fey) was a woman. Since women were clearly not capable and/or qualified for news reporting, Huntley and Brinkely assumed the real Jamie Garnett had been kidnapped. (Jamie was never found. The woman who replaced him on the air went on to be a wife.)
All of these sketches culminated in Tracy Jordan remembering a 1986 telethon in which his St. Ray Ray’s Blatholic Church dance crew performed. Enter Donald Glover as a young Tracy Jordan. That fateful dance was when Tracy first realized he was a ridiculous man. And Jack Donaghy happened to be at that very telethon manning the phones. Next guest, would you please stand up? Jimmy Fallon made his cameo as a young Jack Donaghy answering a prank call. And who made that prank call? A young Liz Lemon — played by Amy Poehler, and I promise this is less confusing than it sounds. Don Geiss saw Jack respond to the call with loyalty and immediately promoted him to the microwave division. Liz Lemon found her calling at sticking it to the man. And that’s how they all ended up where they are today. See? Live TV really matters.
NEXT: The rest of the night’s best moments and lines (the east coast version)
++ “12 Angry Men is preposterous, Kenneth. Eleven decent Americans are swayed by Jane Fonda’s father?” —Jack
++ Amy Poehler as a young Liz Lemon. Amy certainly doesn’t have the look that Julia Louis-Dreyfus does, but it was still 100 percent amazing.
++ A 1950s Dr. Spaceman (Chris Parnell) recommending Chattertons cigarettes for pregnant mothers: “9 out of 10 doctors surveyed said, ‘Who is this? Why are you calling so late?’ But the tenth guy was into it.”
++ The return of Danny (Cheyenne Jackson), who explained his absence by saying that he just got out of prison in Singapore, where Jenna sent him on an errand
++ “According to Roe v. Dwayne Wade, I have a right to choose! And I choose a televised proposal.” —Jenna
++ Lemon’s promotion of Rock of Ages (in theaters June 15!) with a singing Tom Cruise, and not coincidentally Alec Baldwin
++ The show within the show: TGS‘ Prince William and Price. Time-Traveling Fart Detectives
++ They even got a “Zou Bisou Bisou” in there as Paul got ready to propose to Jenna
++ I’ve made my dislike of Hazel very clear, but she almost redeemed herself by ripping up a picture of Sinéad O’Connor. I realize that the credit should really go to the show’s writers for that, but they could have easily had another character do it. Either way, it was hilarious.
I’m in NYC so I only saw the east coast version of the show. And per 30 Rock‘s last live show endeavor, I’m assuming they made some tweaks and changes. Sound off in the comments with your favorite east coast or west coast moment. And don’t forgot to tell us what you thought of the live show overall.
Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan star in the Emmy-winning comedy. You want to go to there.