For a show that supposedly goes unwatched and unnoticed, 30 Rock has had some big names: Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, Oprah, Selma Hayek, James Franco, and, of course, Komiko-Tan. Tina Fey and her writers rarely waste a celebrity guest star and don’t ever sink to the let’s have Reese Witherspoon play Jennifer Aniston’s ditzy sister shtick that low series like Friends tried to get away with. Ironically, the only bad guest star 30 Rock ever featured was Jennifer Aniston. So, that worked out.
How do we celebrate them all? Should we celebrate them all? I don’t think there is room. I could probably write paragraphs on the recurring Homeless characters or Brian Williams. Maybe I should limit this down to some of the most memorable.
Colleen Donaghy, played by Elaine Stritch
She was only featured in nine episodes. Without Stritch’s performance as Jack’s sinister, overbearing Irish-Catholic mother to compliment her perennial bachelor and Republican blowhard son, Alec Baldwin probably would have had a much harder time selling his character. Colleen is Jack’s true underbelly: she understands him in a way no woman ever could and knows exactly how to torment him to the brink of madness.
Every Colleen appearance was a flash hurricane. All hell broke loose. Colleen eviscerated several of Jack’s paramours and took her son on in games of purest psychological warfare. Most episodes end with a sweet, lovely little moment between Mother and Son that shows off what can be achieved when two masters of the craft – Stritch and Baldwin – are allowed to give in to their shared charismatic entropy. She’ll be missed.
Some classic Colleen lines:
"Patricia Goodband, whose sister runs the Friday night bingo game at Our Lady of Reluctant Integration in Waltham…turns out last week that the game was won by Anne O’Connor, who mentioned that her niece, Nancy Donovan, got divorced and was running around with a hot-shot in New York City who pours scotch like a woman."
"Tell him his mother’s here. And she loves him. But not in a queer way."
Angie Jordan, played by Sherri Shepherd
Another shocker: Sherri Shepherd only appeared on 30 Rock 11 times, two of which were for Queen of Jordan episodes. Of course, Angie’s best moments were when she was beating up/making Liz feel uncomfortable, and she was a consistent way of refreshing the Tracy Character. No moment was greater, of course, than when Tracy got his tattoo of Angie. No, scratch that. No moment was greater than the Tracy/Angie showdown at the end of “Mystery of the Phantom Pooper.”
Some classic Angie lines:
Angie: I cannot believe you made me come here for this. Now I won’t have enough time to shop for Christmas presents and still get my hair did!
Tracy: Your hair did? You just got your hair did! You have to get your hair did again?
Angie: It needs to be did every week!
Liz: Maybe we could ”undid” these handcuffs.
Avery Jessup, played by Elizabeth Banks
They were never going to top her. Alec Baldwin got to partner up with some stone foxes through the course of the series, but none ever matched or exceeded his character than the hardcore Avery Jessup. It felt kind of contrived to break the two up, like the writers of 30 Rock needed to explain that the two were not compatible, even though every scene they shared was a fascinating, escalating competition between conservative nutjobs. At least we got a few good seasons out of her.
A lovely Avery moment:
Paul Lastname, played by Will Forte
When Paul Lastname, Jenna’s gender-dysmorphic bigenitalian pansexualle boyfriend showed up on the scene, we all knew she’d never do any better. Will Forte doesn’t even look like Jenna when he dresses as her in drag, but that makes it better. He cheated on her by dressing as Cher. The story ideas for these two are simply endless.
How we met Paul:
Devon Banks, played by Will Arnett.
“Do you have any idea how strong I’ll look?” Will Arnett consistently nailed it as Jack’s ubergay archnemesis, and only developed his uncomfortably homoerotic tete a tete style as the years progressed, leading up to a season seven crescendo of gayness in their final showdown.