The show's first live episode -- packed with guest stars -- plays like SNL, only funny

By Annie Barrett
October 15, 2010 at 10:57 AM EDT
Art Streiber/NBC
S5 E4
Show DetailsAbout 30 Rock
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What the blerg? This week’s episode of 30 Rock was liiiiiiiiiiiiiive, just like Dancing With the Stars! Instead of the usual lightning-paced scripted jokes, the humor relied more on physical comedy — Jack’s magic tricks, Jon Hamm vs. his hands, Jack smelling Jenna’s wino mouth, Jadwiga the Polish Cleaning Lady fighting Pete for her Fonz cake, and everything Kenneth did or said (though to be fair, that’s always the case). The studio audience’s laughter freaked me out a little, but I got past it. Overall, I find taped 30 Rock far more brilliant, but I loved what they did with the live show. It was like SNL, but funny!

Julia Louis-Dreyfus took a break from rolling around in piles of her Seinfeld money to stand in for Liz Lemon during flashbacks, striped scarf and all. Calling out JLD’s supreme hotness by pretending Liz Lemon had once given up refined sugar for a day was genius. Plus, we had guest appearances from Matt Damon, Rachel Dratch (“haven’t seen you in awhile…”), Chris Parnell, Bill Hader, and Jon Hamm talking about his testicles?! Hell yes. Cheers! “To Liz Lemon. You’re halfway to death.”

Jack, who had quit drinking to show support for pregnant Avery, knitted himself a hilarious red poncho and became a better amateur magician in one day than Arrested Development‘s G.O.B. Bluth had become in a lifetime. (I kept hoping Will Arnett would suddenly show up with a dead dove up his sleeve.) Meanwhile, Tracy, who had become enamored with the non-porn version of The Carol Burnett Show, threatened to steal Jenna’s spotlight during the filming of TGS by subjecting himself to many, many “exciting” and “accidental” mishaps. Obviously, his shirt came off. Don’t worry, the audience loves when the actors mess up. Tracy swears on his mother’s grape. Kraut’s honor!

NEXT: The 10 Best Moments/Lines of ’30 Rock Live’

10 Best Moments/Lines of ’30 Rock Live’

10. Jack’s blatant product placement for Capital One — reminded me of when Tina Fey broke the fourth wall with “Can we have our money now?” in season 2

9. “Oh my God — at night?” Lemon, horrified after #1 Bones fan Carol told her the in-flight meal was a frittata

8. “Happy Birthday…the song, we can’t use. But we can use ‘It’s Your B-Day, Bitch,’ by Snooki’s mom.” –Pete

7. “Slumdog Millionaire ref. Blamo!” –Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Lemon 2, capturing Lemon 1’s default mode of triumphant lameness

6. “But my penis was smaller.” –Jack, after Lemon noticed how fit he was in a flashback to his 40th birthday

5. “Welcome back to Fox News. I’m blonde. President Obama, in your own words, why are you a terrorist who hates America?” –Jenna, co-anchor on Fox News (a division of Fox Nonsense, Incorporated)

4. “It’s dangerous to say no to an old spinster. You might turn me into a crow!” –Jack to Lemon

3. “No, no, that’s a Black Power thing.” –Dr. Baird, spokesman for Hands From Executed Criminals, after his prosthetic turned into a fist

2. “Oh, so they’re geniuses for getting stuck in a mine?” –The Nip-Slipper, who can’t get a prescription for Ecstasy. (“Thanks, Obama Care!”)

1. “Why are you speaking like a Persian immigrant?” –Jack to Lemon, who’s “not the one you call when you want to go clubbing on the town and party dance all night”

[BIG LEMON EXHALE.] I could really drink a 40 right now. Time to turn on Dr. Spaceman’s Love Storm and wait for the magic to happen.

Were your favorite moments different from mine? Discuss 30 Rock Live, below!

Last week’s ’30 Rock’ recap: Whiter Than a Wilco Concert

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

THINK OF YOUR TELEVISION AS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Jeff Jensen weigh in on the returning series that are hitting creative peaks this season, and dish the latest happenings on Mad Men, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to a YouTube embed below!

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan star in the Emmy-winning comedy. You want to go to there.
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