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There’s more to Judah Friedlander than meets the eye. The comedian and actor who rarely appears without his trucker hats and glasses — which isn’t just something he does on NBC’s 30 Rock — would like the world to know that he’s its champion.
He’ll tell you so whenever he gets a chance. In his book, How to Beat Up Anybody, and on his website, Friedlander, 42, claims he can be and do anything. And he might just be the hardest-working man in showbiz (even without an acting agent or manager).
Aside from playing a sardonic TGS writer on 30 Rock, Friedlander also has appeared in many films, include The Wrestler, Meet the Parents and American Splendor — which earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for supporting actor.
And while he’s known to wear his heart on his hats, there are still several things most people don’t know about the actor. So Friedlander agreed to clue The Hollywood Reporter’s readers in with a guest blog revealing five things you didn’t know about him.
1. Stand-up comedy is the most relaxing thing I do. If I want to unwind and de-stress, I go out and do stand-up, often several shows in a night. I’ve been doing stand-up just about every night since I started in 1989. It’s my home base. But I’m into doing comedy in all mediums, platforms and situations.
2. I had not met Tina Fey before I auditioned for 30 Rock. Some people think we’re old friends from Second City days. I had always been a fan of Tina’s. But I actually never planned on being in a sitcom. I just wanted to do stand-up every night and do a few movies a year playing characters who are much different from me in appearance and personality. And, that’s what I was doing. Before 30 Rock, I did about 20 movies, from big studio films to small indies like American Splendor.
I have a great time doing 30 Rock. And it’s great to get to know all the performers on the show who come from the sketch/improv world and the writers who come from various backgrounds. Bonus fact: I actually got offered a part on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip at about the same time as I got offered the role of Frank on 30 Rock. And most people were telling me to go with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip instead of 30 Rock. But, I was set on 30 Rock. A couple years later, I was at an Emmys event and Aaron Sorkin came up to me and said, “Boy, did you make the right decision.” He was very cool.
3. I love playing ping-pong. Soccer and ping-pong are my two favorite sports to play. I also do what I can to promote both sports, especially ping-pong since it’s so underappreciated and misunderstood as a sport in this country. Root for the USA ping-pong team at the 2012 summer Olympics! When I can, I play official tournaments sanctioned by USATT.org. And I play ping-pong several times a week even though I don’t own a table. It’s fun, relaxing and great exercise. And it’s not showbizzy. I like hanging out at non-showbizzy places. I travel with my ping-pong paddle.
4. I don’t live in a fancy neighborhood. I live in a nongentrified blue-collar Queens neighborhood. As a comedian, I think you need to keep things real. You can’t get that Rocky III syndrome where you become too civilized and lose your eye of the tiger. Yes, I’m a big Stallone fan.
5. I drive in New York City every day. Believe it or not, it’s easier to park on the street for free at night in NYC than it is in L.A. I’ve been driving in the city for years because as a stand-up in NYC you can perform at more comedy clubs a night if you have a car. Getting from club to club by subway is too slow at night and too expensive by cab. So, many comics live far out from Manhattan and drive in every night.
30 Rock’s sixth season premieres Thursday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. on NBC.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
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