VIDEO: Live from '30 Rock' It's Thursday Night
VIDEO: Live from '30 Rock' It's Thursday Night
Ben Watson
Ben Watson
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
The long anticipated 30 Rock live has finally arrived and believe me it was worth the wait. I've only seen the east coast version but that was enough for me to know that this episode is an instant classic. Sure I knew it would be funny, everything 30 Rock does is funny, but I wasn't expecting it to be a huge event, complete with lyrics to the theme song, a house band, fake commercials and guest stars galore.

Jack's first line of the show about something feeling off, and the set looking like it's a Mexican soap opera is indicative of what I'm sure all of us were feeling when we saw our favorite show in a different format. The show looked less like a sitcom and more like an SNL episode. It was jarring at first hear the laughter (although it was genuine and not canned like some sitcoms), and the pausing for laughs kind of killed the pacing but that stuff is to be expected in a live episode.

Watch Jane Krakowski sing new lyrics to the 30 Rock theme song during the east coast version.

Watch Cheyenne Jackson sing new lyrics to the 30 Rock theme song from the west coast version.

If anything tonight's episode helped me gain a real appreciation for 30 Rock and other single camera shows. Hearing the audience laughter and seeing the cheap sets the whole night was a constant reminder that I was watching something pretend. It kind of felt like one giant play, a really funny play. When I watch other single camera sitcoms I am able to delve into the world and not be reminded that I am watching a show. I think that is why I connect better to single camera comedies even if they are meta and completely unrealistic, they still feel more realistic than staged shows. 

The premise for the aptly titled "Live Show" was pretty simple. On a show night, Liz Lemon is bummed because she realizes that no one has remembered that today is her 40 birthday. Jack has pledged to give up alcohol while Avery is pregnant, so he's useless. Tracy learns that breaking character in a sketch can be hilarious and Jenna, ever the professional, doesn't want to be upstaged by Tracy.

HAPPYBDAYLIZ.jpgBut the premise doesn't matter because tonight's live episode of 30 Rock was really just a celebration of TV and a celebration of all that 30 Rock has become. The show moved so quickly (with the exception of the pause for laughter) that there wasn't really time to dwell on any mistake.

When I first heard about a 30 Rock live episode I was concerned with how they would do their non-linear storytelling. Well I should have never doubted them because they brilliantly decided to use the great Julia Louis-Dreyfus to double as Liz and some young stud (sorry I didn't catch who he was) to play Jack. The live format also allowed the show to be as current as ever, with timely remarks about the Chilean miners, Snooki's mom, and Brett Farve's uh ... hot dog.

"Live Show" also featured a bevy of guest stars. Here is who I was able to catch: Cheyenne Jackson, Rachel Dratch, Bill Hader, Matt Damon, Jon Hamm, Chris Parnell, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Did I miss anyone?  

hand.jpgThe two fake commercials were also a highlight. Sure it is always good to see the creepy Dr. Leo Spaceman but Jon Hamm's commercial for hand transplants from executed criminals had me in stitches laughing.

Update: The west coast version of Hamm's ad was a little different. This time instead of a hand from executed criminals, he has a hand from a woman who died at a Josh Groban concert.

You can also watch both of Dr. Leo Spaceman's fake live commercials.

Tonight 30 Rock was most successful in its unpredictability. Aside from the gimmie that Tracy would at some point take off his shirt I had no idea what to expect. Liz Lemon spoke the truth when she said that audiences love it when something goes wrong. Well, I have no idea what went wrong tonight because for 22 minutes 30 Rock rocked!

So what did you think of "Live Show"? Did you laugh hysterically or do you think it was too gimmicky? Let us know below. 

(Images courtesy of NBC)