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"30 Rock" Makes Us Laugh

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 12, 2006 2:13PM

Last night the hotly anticipated TV comedy “30 Rock” - better known at Chicagoist as The Reason That Tina Fey Left Saturday Night Live - finally premiered. We loved seeing Ms. Fey in the Weekend Update chair, so right off the bat we had some high expectations (and the show also features SNL alums Tracy Morgan and Rachel Dratch). It wasn't a perfect half hour, but we feel it's a promising start. 061006_30rock_hmed_1p.hmedium

Its concept isn't much of a stretch: Fey plays Liz Lemon, head writer of a late-night comedy sketch show (!) called “The Girlie Show.” Everything is going just fine until a new network VP (Alec Baldwin) is brought in to vamp up ratings. Idea #1 is to bring loose-cannon star Tracy Morgan, err Jordan, onto the show since he appeals to the missing demographic of “males between 18 and 49.” And Dratch plays a cat wrangler.

Like we said, a thin concept. But who cares? It's funny. The writing is liberally peppered with double entendres, deadpan toss-off lines and other assorted goofiness. Baldwin is pitch-perfect and steals every scene he's in. We've often thought his gift for comedy woefully underappreciated, and in the first episode he gets plenty of room to show off the kind of steel-sharp line delivery that makes everything he says funnier (example: “Sometimes you have to change things that are perfectly good in order to make them your own”).

By now most people know that Fey and Dratch have strong Chicago connections. (At one point in the episode, Fey's character even mentions that she moved to New York from Chicago). In fact Fey apparently worked behind the counter at a local YMCA to pay the bills, and Dratch even failed her first Second City audition.

Another thing we liked about the show was its lack of a laugh track. “30 Rock” has plenty of funny moments, and last night we laughed out loud without any help from an unseen audience. We'll definitely tune in next week to see how the series settles in.

“30 Rock” airs Wednesday nights at 7 on NBC.