12. Write the Perfect Joke

Photo: NBC/Photofest

30 Rock

From many worthy contenders, this one is courtesy of our hometown sitcom, 30 Rock. It comes from the episode in which Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) leaves the safe confines of 10112 in search of a “real” American actor to be on TGS.

Jack, to Liz: The television audience doesn’t want your elitist, East Coast, alternative, intellectual, left-wing—

Liz: Jack, just say Jewish, this is taking forever.

12A. Where it came from
“We were doing this episode at a time when Tina was finishing her movie [Date Night],” says executive producer–writer Robert Carlock. “Which was unfortunate because we like having her in the room. So I was pitching this story to her and talking about that scene between Jack and Liz, that core argument that they’ve been having. And she tacked on the rapier thrust of Liz’s line, which may have been a reaction to how long my pitch was taking. So it was born right out of Zeus’s head.”

12B. Why it’s funny
Because like many great 30 Rock jokes, it’s actually about 30 Rock itself. Also, it manages to needle both the anti-Semitic paranoia of rural boobs and the mealymouthed euphemizing of urban media types.

12C. How to destroy the joke
By offering the above explanation.

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30 Rock

12. Write the Perfect Joke