30 Rock co-showrunner Robert Carlock has confirmed suspicions that a joke from a 2009 episode of the satirical NBC series was meant as a reference to sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby.
While the season 3 episode “The Bubble” didn’t make waves at the time, Crushable writer Jenni Maier later took notice of an exchange in which Tracy Morgan’s character, Tracy Jordan, is asked a favor by a person purporting to be Cosby. “You’ve got a lot of nerve getting on the phone with me after what you did to my Aunt Paulette!” Jordan shouts. (Watch the clip here.)
On Friday, Carlock told Uproxx that the scene was indeed an allusion to the accusations from dozens of women that Cosby sexually assaulted them.
Carlock said 30 Rock creator and co-showrunner Tina Fey had been “grinding that ax for a long time,” since her days doing Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.
“That was not an accident,” he continued. “From my memory, the joke was more overt. And because he had not been found guilty of anything — and still hasn’t — we had to reword it to be a little more obtuse.”
Cosby and his representatives have consistently denied all allegations of sexual assault or misconduct made against him by more than 50 women. He has been charged in Pennsylvania with felony aggravated indecent assault and also faces several civil lawsuits. Cosby has countersued some of his accusers.
Carlock also noted that one of the writers on 30 Rock was Hannibal Buress, who brought renewed attention to the allegations against Cosby when he called him a “rapist” in a 2014 stand-up set. Buress “took it to the next level,” Carlock said.
Representatives for NBC did not immediately respond to request for comment about Carlock’s remarks.