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Friday, April 13,2012

A real standup guy

Judah Friedlander is ready to 'Rock' Lansing

by Alyssa Firth

Judah Friedlander holds several different titles and wears several different faces. In addition to being the self-proclaimed “World Champion of the World” and “World’s Greatest Athlete,” Friedlander is also known as the smart-mouthed, uncouth writer Frank Rossitano on the NBC sitcom, “30 Rock.”

But the comedian said he has been doing standup comedy almost every night for more than 20 years, adding that he is looking forward to his first shows in Michigan. 

“It’s where winners are born — I like it,” he said in a phone interview. 

Friedlander performs Friday at the Wharton Center. 

Friedlander’s portrayal of Frank is based on several former “Saturday Night Live” writers that “30 Rock” with whom writer/star Tina Fey once worked. Friedlander said he had known one of the inspirations behind the role when he originally auditioned, but was surprised to learn from Fey who else Frank was based on. 

“There was one episode that was called the ‘Sun Tea’ episode, where my character Frank, instead of going to the bathroom, he just takes a leak in, like, a Mason jar in his office and leaves it there.”

He asked Fey if that actually happened on “Saturday Night Live.” 

“And she's like, ‘Yeah.’ I'm like, ‘Who the hell would do that?’ And she's like, ‘Actually, several people,’” he said. 

Friedlander shared his World Champion of the World secrets in his book, “How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion.” The book features several fighting tactics, including offense as the best defense and a special chapter for women, “written in a language only women can understand,” according to Friedlander. 

“So if a male criminal read that chapter, he wouldn't be able to discover women’s secrets to protect themselves against male attackers,” Friedlander said. 

Another chapter that Friedlander said would especially be good for Michigan readers details how to beat up a Big Foot. Friedlander claims attacks are on the rise because of the country’s deforestation problem. 

“They're being forced out of their homes, into the suburbs, into the cities. That's why Big Foot attacks are on the rise,” he said. “Most are cool, but like any society, you know, there's always some scumbags. You gotta watch out for them, so I teach you how to protect yourself against a Big Foot.”

Friedlander, 43, has been in films and television for more than a decade.

While he is still filming “30 Rock” episodes, he said standup is his priority.  

“Anything else I do is something I do, but standup is always home base and number one for me,” he said. 

Performing at a college rather than a comedy club or theater won’t necessarily change his set, according to Friedlander. He said he often makes material up on the spot.  

One of his latest bits is his campaign for the presidency. He asks the audience which issues they want addressed and responds with what he would do about them, as well as a few of his own platforms.

When asked if he would be seeking student votes on Friday, Friedlander said he firmly believes that the youth is ahead of current politicians. 

“The government and television media are always behind where the people stand, and the young people, I think, are further advanced people in their thinking,” he said. “I think people, especially young people, they have too many rules restricting them in general.”

Viewers can preview Friedlander’s act at www.judahfriedlander.com, which features clips and updates. You can also follow him on Twitter (@JudahWorldChamp). 

Judah Friedlander

Fairchild Theatre, MSU

7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13

$20; $10 students

www.whartoncenter.com 

(800) WHARTON

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