30 Rock Rocks

30 Rock

Earlier this year, Tina Fey became a household name as the better vice-presidential candidate. But as Sarah Palin has since disappeared, it was time to check out what Fey is really famous for - and that is 30 Rock.

The build-up to the US election took - or at least felt - so long that at the end hardly anybody was able to take the politicians seriously anymore. And in the middle of this, the really surprising fact was that Saturday Night Live made a resurgence as a genuine must-see comedy program. First and foremost this was due to Tina Fey's dead-pan parody of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin, and the fact that most of the lines delivered in SNL were actually the candidate's herself.

Before that, I had briefly heard about Fey's day-job - that is, starring in the sitcom 30 Rock which she created and stars in, and for which she and he co-stars have picked up numerous Emmys. When the void created by having gone through all five seasons of The Wire caused us to do a straw poll on Facebook about which other shows were recommended, 30 Rock came up so often, it quickly made it to the top of the Lovefilm rental queue.

Compared to The Wire, of course, it is much lighter fare, but one shouldn't be snobbish about this. Its 'show-within-a-show'-setup has Fey as Liz Lemon, the main writer of a Saturday Night Live-style comedy show, who gets Alec Baldwin as her new boss. With him comes a new main actor in the form of a loose-cannon vaguely resembling Eddie Murphy (if only for the fact he plays multiple roles in all of his films).

One of the show's key topics is Fey's character's struggle with Baldwin, who is clearly enjoying his career revival as the over-the-top alpha-male straight out of a management handbook. He wants to get involved not only in her work, but also wants to sort out her (fairly disastrous) private life at the same time.

At the same time, she needs to juggle the vanities (and psychoses and medications) of the new celebrity actor (Tracy Morgan) and her friend, the established, but unsuccessful starlet (Jane Krakowski, essentially reprising her role from Ally McBeal). And then there's her writing staff, which includes everything from a Harvard graduate struggling with his race, a hapless but eternally optimistic page, and a bald, depressed middle-aged family man.

One could argue that a lot of the humour is fairly broad-brush, which is undeniable. What is also undeniable, however, is that the actors have genuine comedic timing. Most of the jokes are hilarious, and the performances, in particular Baldwin and Fey, are so spot on that you don't want them to stop bantering.

They don't take themselves too seriously, and the result is all the more enjoyable.

Now if only that could have been said about some of the candidates...