30 Rock does many things very well, but the thing which 30 Rock excels at is its ability to introduce and use recurring and guest actors to their full potential. When recently writing my Best Recurring TV Characters; 30 Rock came out on top with 4/20 of the best recurring characters (2 more than any other show). To fully understand my point about how good 30 Rock is with recurring and guest characters, consider the fact that initially I intended this list to be a top 10, but ended up with more honourable mentions than those that made the list. Due to this I extended it to a Top 20 because I felt these people really deserved to be on the list, and still had too many names. There will be *spoilers* in case you are wondering.
I just want to give a special shout out to Kevin Brown who played Dot Com in 30 Rock, after he actually tweeted about my 10 Best Starring Characters. Many thanks man, it was appreciated.
With so many great recurring and guest spots on 30 Rock some awesome people are going to miss out on the top 20 and I felt 6 characters deserved an honourable mention. James Franco (who dated Jenna to avoid press coverage about him being in love with Japanese pillows, then banged Liz), Greenzo (David Schwimmer being a loser who loved saving the planet wasn’t much of a stretch [because Schwimmer is a loser] but he was still funny), the Bitch Hunter (Will Ferrell in a really funny looking TV idea, but was left off the list because he didn’t really have lines), Jeffrey Weinerslav (funny name and relationship expert) Al Gore and Condoleeza Rice (because it is always funny to see politicians do things you wouldn’t expect them to).
Ok onto the real list of the amazing recurring and guest characters on 30 Rock.
20. Drew Baird
You have to start somewhere and where is a better place to start than with the amazing Jon Hamm? Hamm plays one of Liz Lemon’s many boyfriends (she gets about) who just happens to be drop dead gorgeous; he seems to be the perfect man but turns out to be a complete idiot who has been getting by on his looks without realising it (it happens to the best of us). Sadly Drew loses both his hands in separate accidents and that ends his very promising tennis and paediatrician careers.
19. Lance Drake Mandrell
Lance Drake Mandrell is played by William Baldwin, who is playing Jack Donaghy who is played by Alec Baldwin in a TV movie about Jack Donaghy’s wife being kidnapped by Kim Jong-Il, confused? I certainly am. It is funny, he only shows up in one episode and acts as Alec Baldwin playing Jack Donaghy the entire episode, who just happens to be his brother and it is excellent and made funnier by the fact that they got Alec Baldwin’s brother to play him in the TV biopic. I have confused myself here, but I know this was a stroke of genius, a confusing stroke of genius.
18. Carol Burnett
Another of Liz Lemon’s many boyfriends seen Matt Damon making a nice appearance as the cool pilot with a ladies name (at least he has a good job). Matt Damon is an awesome actor, sadly his time on 30 Rock was short after he decided to pull a gun on Liz (never pull a gun on the head writer; it is TV suicide [I learned the hard way]).
17. Paul L’Astname
It is every girl’s dream to meet a guy who’s favourite past time is to dress up in woman’s clothing and impersonate celebrities (or so I am told), it is an even bigger dream if that person is impersonating you. Well Jenna Maroney hit the jackpot when she found Paul (Will Forte) a man who does exactly that. Their relationship went through their ups and downs, with break ups and sexual walkabouts; but we got out happy ending when Jenna and Paul got married at Colleen Donaghy’s funeral, and he became Mr. Jenna Maroney.
D’Fwan a member of Angie Jordan’s entourage, who happens to be homosexual and black the perfect combination for a hair stylist. D’Fwan is also a vital member of the three person panel (along with Jenna Maroney and John McEnroe) on America’s Kidz got Singing. D’Fwan is helped by the fact that 2 of the 4 episodes he shows up in are based on the excellent Queen of Jordan, and his relationship with Jack is the perfect will they won’t they that every TV show loves to have.
15. Rosemary Howard
Played by Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia to you and I), she is Liz Lemon’s childhood hero who happens to not be as funny or relevant as Liz was hoping. It is a funny nod to the fact that comedy is a fast moving genre, and those who were relevant or funny twenty years ago quite often aren’t able to move with the times. It’s an excellent part which is made better by Carrie Fisher’s performance, she only showed up in one episode but it was an incredibly memorable performance.
14. Steve Austin
Not the wrestler, unless you are blind and then yes it was the wrestler, but not actually the wrestler but instead Roger from Mad Men, but not actually Roger from Mad Men (because he doesn’t exist) and instead John Slattery the actor. He only has one appearance but much like Carrie Fisher it is an incredibly memorable one, and is a great example of how to use a guest star to their full potential (watch and learn how to use John Slattery Arrested Development). He plays a man running for office (politician could be used loosely, although probably not too far off in America) whom Jack takes under his wing so as to beat Queen Latifah and puts under the Republican banner. Thankfully for Jack (much like many Republicans) Steve turned out to be a touch nuts and wouldn’t look to out of place at a Tea Party convention. Who knows if he won his seat, we can only hope he did so that he could make the USA a better country.
13. Hazel Wassername
If you ever wondered if NBC would be able to employ a page which is odder than Kenneth, then the answer is yes in the form of Hazel (What’s her name again?) Wassername. Hazel bounced around many storylines; such as being Liz’s mentor, Kenneth’s girlfriend and suer of NBC. Hazel does lots of funny things and says lots of odd things and added a nice change of pace going into the 6th and 7th seasons of 30 Rock. Who knows if anything Hazel says was actually true, but I like to think that it all was and that she actually did used to be a man.
12. Kelsey Grammer
Kelsey Grammer is awesome in general; now take Kelsey Grammer and make him play an exaggerated version of himself, and you have the formula for TV gold. Kelsey shows up as an acquaintance of Jenna and then along with Kenneth and Jenna creates the ‘Best Friend Gang’; a scheming gang who pulls several schemes to make them money or screw Pete. This is of course odd because Kelsey Grammar must be loaded (maybe he’s hard up for cash after his divorce…..who knows) but maybe like all people he just likes to run schemes, and as long as nobody gets hurt (or rather the person running the scheme doesn’t get hurt) then who cares. Good for you Kelsey Grammer, you are one fine actor.
11. Kathy Geiss
How could a woman that has almost no lines in a TV show make such an impact? Well if you eat pocket watches, enjoy a good tackle or sing like SuBo then you deserve to be on the list.
10. Lenny Wosniak
Here we go top 10 time; and how could you start it better than Steve Buscemi as Jack’s (…..how can I say this…..) unusual private eye. Lenny shows up throughout 30 Rock to run background checks for Jack when he is running some sort of business plan (or whatever business men do). Generally Lenny is funny as a loser of a man that is a loser; with many of his undercover investigations failing fairly easily and usually involving him dressing as a woman (go figure). In the end Lenny gets a happy ending as he decides he prefers being a female drama teacher to Lenny himself, and good for him.
9. Elisa Pedrera
Elisa starts out as Jack’s mother Colleen’s nurse, but it is not long before her Latin charm (and big bosom) have Jack going weak at the knees. Their love affair continues and Jack eventually proposes because his lust for Elisa is uncontrollable. However sadly for Jack Elisa turns out to be a bit nuts and seems to have killed her husband back in Puerto Rico before getting off on a technicality (well what happens in Puerto Rico stays in Puerto Rico [is that a saying?]). In the end (sadly for Jack) the two decide that Elisa passion and jealously is too much for their relationship and they break it off.
8. Kaylie Hooper
I’m not really sure how to spell her name (is it Kaylie or Kaylee?), but what I am sure is that Kaylie Hooper is a really good character. It is no surprise that so many of the best recurring/guest characters are the ones who play off of Jack Donaghy, because the character excels at being in competition with other characters. Kaylie only showed up in 3 episodes of 30 Rock, but left a lasting impression as the young and hungry granddaughter of the CEO of Kabletown. At the time she first appears she is only 14 and the performance is excellent, and that is what makes her tussles with Jack so good. A teenager shouldn’t be getting into mind games with a middle aged man, and it shouldn’t be good TV, but gosh darn it works.
7. Kim Jong-Il
I loved this character, and it is only made better by the fact that Kim Jong-Il was played by a lady. They do very nice things with Kim; such as having him do the weather (sunny all the time) and doing movies with Tracy Jordan. You wonder if the character would have shown up more if the actual Kim Jong-Il hadn’t died (or did he die? I heard he was immortal!!!). Who knows, all I know is that Kim Jong-Il is the greatest waiter, golfer, weatherman, leader and movie director/actor EVER!!!
6. Wesley Snipes
No not the actor Wesley Snipes, the Englishy guy Wesley Snipes. Not only is Michael Sheen really cool, Wesley Snipes is really cool; so imagine how great a character this created. Anyway, Snipes is Liz’s (sort of) boyfriend whom she hates and doesn’t care for in anyway. Liz has had some bad boyfriends but Wesley is just such a nerd; to make it worse he is a nerd and a loser (the worst kind of nerds). As much as Liz tried to get herself away from Wesley, he kept coming back (much like a bad case of syphilis). Eventually Liz decided to settle and accept that Wesley was as good as she could do, before Matt Damon came in a ruined everything. DAMN YOU MATT DAMON!!!
5. Angie Jordan
Top 5 time people, and what is a better way to start than with a sassy plump black lady? Angie being Tracy’s wife couldn’t be normal, so instead she is nuts (you wonder how their kids will turn out). Initially Angie just shows up to annoy Tracy and then maybe have sexual relations with him in an unusual place. However as the show progresses Angie is given her own reality TV show, and Angie hits form. The two Queen of Jordan episodes are awesome and are a great parody of similar reality TV shows (I’m looking at you Kardashian’s). She even has a catchphrase ‘It’s my way, till pay day’ (which I use all the time). Angie is an aggressive lady, often attacking other members of the 30 Rock staff, and there is nothing more exciting than seeing one woman pulling another woman’s weave out. Thank you Angie Jordan, thank you.
4. Dennis Duffy
Dennis Duffy is one of Liz’s many boyfriends (man she gets about). Dennis is quite possibly the love of Liz’s life (she never realised it though) but sadly for Dennis Liz has relationship issues so she kept turning him down and breaking up with him. Despite not being the most intelligent man in New York, Dennis has managed to become an entrepreneur/ small business owner on several occasions; showing that any idiot can create their own business. Is there anyone who didn’t want to see Liz and Dennis get together in the end? I doubt it, but that silly Criss guy got in the way and ruined everything.
3. Dr. Leo Spaceman
The word doctor is used to loosely these days (silly dentists, you aren’t doctors, you are dentists); however has it ever been used less loosely than with Dr. Leo Spaceman? I have taken much of Leo Spaceman medical advice and used it for my own personal health care needs, and so far it has stood me in good stead. Dvmoidsvosdisadbswn rdgvedfvsxdbwsge5y4ew324hb iv0. Sorry I had a moment there…..where am I? Aw yeah Dr. Leo Spaceman, what a great guy, you know he’s the surgeon general.
2. Colleen Donaghy
The mother from hell (or just your mother if you come from an Irish Catholic background) also happens to be the mother of Jack Donaghy. The loathing mother son relationship of the Donaghy’s rears its head every so often throughout 30 Rock and when it does you know you are going to be witnessing that bitch Colleen who is always doing her best to undermine Jack’s achievements and general awesomeness. The real problem with Jack and Colleen relationship is that they are too similar (which isn’t surprising considering she is his mother) and this allows the battle of the minds to be that damn good.
1. Devon Banks
Yes number 1 and who else could it be but Jack Donaghy’s gay arch nemesis Devon Banks? It isn’t really surprising that Devon Banks is such a great character because he is played by the amazing Will Arnet (who is just super awesome). Whether Banks is flirting with Kenneth or battling with Jack over something that involves business or power (or both!) you know he delivers. Even after Banks loses his business prowess (after the numerous beatings Jack gives him) he is still a deadly rival for Jack to play off of. You know when Banks shows up it is going to be a special episode, and that is a sign of what a great character he is. In fact he is the greatest recurring/guest character in 30 Rock history and that is a feat (or I think it’s a feat, maybe I should make him a trophy or something).
So there it is the 20 best guest/recurring characters in 30 Rock. It’s a long list and I am sure I have left out some characters that people loved, but I felt that these were the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème, the dog’s bollocks, you get the point. Feel free to leave a comment about how much you lover 30 Rock, your favourite recurring/guest character or to bitch and moan at me. All comments are welcome.