I grew up with one of the best Thursday night sitcom lineups of all time. Every Thursday, I would plop myself down in front of the TV and watch two consecutive hours of NBC comedies: Community, then Parks and Rec, then The Office, and finally, 30 Rock.
Created by Tina Fey, 30 Rock spoofs the experience of writing for a weekly sketch comedy show (much like Fey did herself on Saturday Night Live). The show is famous for going completely off the rails, introducing a number of insane characters and plots that make the show more absurd than your average sitcom.
Running jokes are this workplace comedy's bread and butter, so today I’m breaking down a bunch of my favorite 30 Rock inside jokes that come up throughout the series.
Something Weird Goes On In Kenneth’s Home Town
Kenneth the Page comes from the town of Stone Mountain, Georgia. We know that he grew up on a pig farm and has some off-the-wall religious beliefs, but there always seems to be something much more sinister going on in Kenneth’s home town.
Kenneth drops hints about his hometown throughout the series, like that he and his family all drink “hill people milk” and that they have no political beliefs because “choosing is a sin.” But, maybe his religion actually works—considering it’s suggested that Kenneth might be immortal.
The Royal Tampa Academy Of Dramatic Tricks
Liz and Jenna met at Northwestern University, where Jenna trained as a vocal performer. But Jenna’s first alma mater is actually the Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks.
At the academy, Jenna studied game show pointing and theater superstitions, while majoring in portraying prom queens and murdered runaways.
Astronaut Mike Dexter
Liz isn’t too picky when it comes to love. Her guy just has to be a world-famous astronaut named Mike Dexter.
Astronaut Mike Dexter is Liz’s dream guy—except for the fact that he’s entirely imaginary. I can’t get over the fact that Liz’s dream guy has a job where he’ll be gone most of the time, but I do relate. Liz and I both love our alone time.
Condoleezza Rice Is Jack’s Ex
It’s revealed in Season 1 that Jack is dating Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush. It’s just one example of the power Jack holds in the Republican party.
Later in the series, Jack needs a favor from Rice, so the two face off in an instrumental duel featuring a cameo from Rice herself. Jack plays the flute, while Rice plays the piano (which she actually plays in real life).
If there’s one thing all the writers can agree on, it’s that Lutz is the worst.
While writing for TGS’ last episode, Lutz even legally changes his last name to “Aardvark” to rig the alphabetical choice in his favor.
If you walked into Frank Rossitano’s closet, you’d probably just see rows and rows of trucker hats. Frank wears a different trucker hat in practically every episode of 30 Rock, each with its own absurd phrase written across the front.
Some of Frank’s best hats include “Half Centaur,” “Ninja Expert,” “Crop Octagon,” “Speling Expirt,” and the simple but effective “Horny.”
Even better, Judah Freidlander (the actor who played Frank) shared in an interview with Flavorwire that all the hats on the show were from his own collection.
Jenna And Tracy’s Enemies To Friends Arc
Tracy Jordan is a big-name movie star, beloved by the masses. So when he first joins the cast of TGS, Jenna is understandably threatened.
Though they start out as enemies, Tracy and Jenna ultimately realize that as “famouses” they have a lot more in common than they thought. The two strike up an unlikely friendship that only occasionally reverts back into jealousy and sabotage.
Dr. Leo Spaceman
The doctor at 30 Rockefeller Plaza is Dr. Leo Spaceman (it’s Spa-cheh-man, not Space-man), played by SNL alum Chris Parnell.
It’s debatable whether or not Dr. Spaceman is actually an MD—he encourages Jack to eat a big breakfast the morning before surgery, doesn’t know how to say “diabetes,” and comments that the heart is in a different place on everybody. If only medicine were an exact science.
Liz’s Relationship With Food
Do not come between Liz Lemon and her food. From Cheesy Blasters to Sabor de Soledad, Liz Lemon has an affection for junk food—the unhealthier the better.
Let’s not forget what happens when people mess with Liz’s food. When the writers eat Liz’s special sandwich on Sandwich Day, she threatens them with violence if they don’t procure a new sandwich for her.
Tracy And Jenna’s Ridiculous Fictional Movies
Jenna and Tracy work on a number of ridiculous fictional films throughout the series. Who could forget Kidnapped by Danger, the TV-movie where Jenna plays Jack’s wife (who’s been kidnapped by Kim Jong Un), or Hard to Watch: Based on the Novel Stone Cold Bummer, the film that earned Tracy his EGOT? We certainly can’t forget A Blaffair to Rememblack, Tracy’s remake of An Affair to Remember.
My favorite fake 30 Rock films, however, are Rural Juror, a movie plagued by confusion about the title, and Jackie Jormp-Jomp, Jenna’s unlicensed Janis Joplin biopic.
The Cutthroat Page Program
Kenneth’s pride and joy in life is being a member of NBC’s page program. What you might not know is how high the stakes are in the page program. We learn that the head page, Donny, forces his peers to compete in Page-offs and that he has a particular dislike of Kenneth.
The page program is real—Aubrey Plaza actually worked as an NBC page at 30 Rock—but definitely not as intense as the real life page program Kenneth has to go through.
Liz’s Romantic History With Grizz
Grizz and Dot Com are members of Tracy’s entourage, and they’re frequently involved in shenanigans around 30 Rock. The two men are meant to seem big and intimidating, but the pair are actually big softies who spend their time looking after Tracy.
After a fateful Halloween party at Kenneth’s, Grizz becomes romantically involved with Liz. We never really hear what happens between them, other than the fact that Liz made Grizz cry.
Grizz has a really hard time getting over Liz, so the fling comes up a lot throughout the series.
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She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.