Judah Friedlander is most known as 30 Rock's Frank Rossitano, the show's oddball TGS writer responsible for such classic trucker-hat slogans as "Sitting Ovation," "Time Travel Agent," and "Half-Centaur." Now, Friedlander is working with the makers of MiO's beverage mix for an entirely new endeavor: becoming the face of MiO Energy, a flavored liquid water enhancer meant to give an extra boost to your day.
Complex spoke with the comedian as he posted up Clerks-style at a 7-Eleven in Los Angeles to promote the new product and mingle with new consumers; here, Friedlander fills us in on representing MiO energy, his board-certified beverage knowledge, and his romantic hopes for Frank on 30 Rock.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
What drew you into working with MiO?
MiO just called me. They knew I was a winner, and they knew I was an energetic guy. They knew I knew a lot about beverages. It's well documented that I have three PHDs in energy, so it was just a natural fit. It's made by Kraft. The country was built on Kraft products. When I found out it was Kraft, I was like, "Well, these people make a good cream cheese." They've been copied and imitated for years. So, these guys are winners.
Unlike other drinks, you can take this drink with you wherever you want. It comes in two flavors, which is all you need. They've actually figured out the greatest two flavors in the world. They are Green Thunder and Black Cherry. If you ask any scientist in who's got a degree from a reputable place, they will tell you the same thing.
What kind of work did you have to do to get those PHDs?
I toured the world. I spent two years on my first thesis for energy and got that PHD and felt that I needed another. I studied at universities around the world and different beverages all over the planet and even other planets. My knowledge is just unbelievable. I'm actually talking and drinking at the same time right now, because I'm that advanced in my beverage intake. I've been swallowing liquid the entire time we've been talking.
What are your thoughts on the energy problem in the U.S.?
Here's the thing: We need more alternative energy, and how are we going to create more energy? First, we need more energy ourselves. So we need to get more energy individually, that's where MiO comes in. That gives you more energy. So if we have more energy individually, we have more energy to create more energy.
I just invented a car that runs on sexual energy. You take a seat, you think about me, and it just takes off. If they make it legal, it will put the Prius out of business. The gas companies are totally against it. There's a lot of politics involved with why that's not legal yet.
Since you're so knowledgeable about the energy problem, were you offended at all when Alec Baldwin was being encouraged to run for office over you?
I wasn't offended at all. I just felt a little bad for him. If Alec Baldwin were to ever run against me for political office, we know he wouldn't win. I think that's why he often talks about it, but he never does it. He knows that he will not win against me if we both run. He doesn't stand a chance.
How has being on the 30 Rock changed your life?
I now have access to the NBC locker room. I've gone through the entire news departments lockers. Let's just say I found things you wouldn't expect.
Given how zany it can be, what's it like filming the show?
30 Rock is a lot of fun. It's a very tightly written show which leaves little room for improvisation. I've learned from both Tina and Alec. They both work in very different ways. When you're acting with someone, you're collaborating. But in 30 Rock's case it's a little more like being teammates. Any collaboration comes right there on the spot. I try to bring as much depth to my character as possible—not always easy, since the show is so fast-moving and I often don't have a lot of lines.
Does your character Frank have any say in his trucker hats at all?
I actually make all of them and come up with all of them. As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes I try to add depth with my hats.
For example, in the episode where my girlfriend Lynn Onkman, played Susan Sarandon, comes back, I'm wearing a hat that says "Suplex." Suplex is a wrestling move that is rarely used in professional wrestling today, but was a popular move back in the 80s and for some of the 90s. I figured that Lynn and Frank used to watch wrestling together when they first started going out years ago—when Lynn was a teacher and Frank was her middle school student—and I figured that the suplex was their favorite wrestling move.
Even today, they talk about "Why don't any wrestlers do a suplex anymore?" So the hat demonstrates a history between the two characters and how they relate to each other. I doubt anyone watching the show gets the whole connection, but all that background info is in my head when I acted those scenes.
In regards to Frank's love interests, is there any specific actress you hope they'd cast?
I think Meryl Streep would be good. She needs the work, and I think it'd be a good career move for her. Frank's had his share of older women on the show, but he likes young chicks too. Frank doesn't discriminate. He's open-minded.
What if Lindsay Lohan joins the cast?
He might have to pass. I think Frank is into low-maintenance chicks. He needs someone more easygoing, like Emma Stone. Frank's already stressed out with work at TGS. He probably needs a chick who's going to be pretty relaxed as well. And he needs someone smart, I think, and someone who can go toe to toe with his mom. Frank's a mama's boy. He's going to need a girl who's got strong conviction and can hang with his mom.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)