If you’ve ever lived in New York City, or even visited long enough to be loudly farted on by an elderly Chinese gentlemen while standing on a subway platform, which indeed I have, then "The Tuxedo Begins" was an episode of 30 Rock that spoke directly to you. The show had me in its delightful clutches from the teaser, when a young girl stepped off a bus sweetly singing a song from Annie, then asked Liz, “Say, where does a young prostitute get started in this town?” Then, a minute later, a sick Liz sneezed out a Jesus-shaped snot pattern that itself caused me to spit out a mouthful of cottage cheese onto my laptop. (It was kind of in a Justin Bieber pattern, if you squinted.) Two instances of surreal, laugh-out-loud hilarity in 60 seconds isn’t too bad. And yet the show kept tossing out what felt like personalized jokes: The Ghostbusters vs. Ghostbusters II debate? That’s so me!
And it just kept getting better: Jenna’s cross-dressing boyfriend Paul was back in the mix, returning from a drag cruise ready to infect Jenna with a variety of exotic Thai STDS he’d picked up, with help from a recreational sex monkey he’d brought back from Jakarta. The couple ended up passing out before getting it on, like so many boring couples do. But instead of cursing their domesticated fate, they spun it into it a fetish: normalling! What’s normalling? It’s a twisted, fringe sex game that involves walking around a Bed, Bath and Beyond exchanging insipid, cutesy patter, just like a regular couple does. It’s so regular it’s perverse!
Jack, meanwhile, was spooked by a cufflink-jacking at knifepoint. The mugger was a white man, leading him to believe the 99 percent were rising up—and he was going to do something about it. First he called P.I. Lenny Wosniak (Steve Buscemi) and enlisted his help in getting more police on the streets. That didn’t go so well, as Wosniak shops at Anne Taylor Loft and is the oldest living member of 21 Jump Street. (That flashback to the school hallway was so good.) Then Jack decided to run for mayor, and it seemed for a moment like he was tackling the crime problem—but really he was just become an agoraphobic shut-in, living out of his office while Liddy was away at a “baby leadership conference.” Tracy called him out on it, leading to another flashback involving a child Tracy in a Chewbacca costume made of hair extensions. It was wonderful.
Liz had a different journey: She was convinced that no New Yorkers abide by rules. But once she realized that dressing like an old lady and behaving erratically causes people to get out of her way and give her everything she wants, she kept upping the crazy-old-lady ante, until she became a makeup-smeared facsimile of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Eventually Jackman and The Loker met on a Gotham rooftop set for a completely untimely—and therefore hilarious—parody of The Dark Knight. (Liz’s chemical weapon was her stinky gym bag.)
I think this is my favorite episode of Season 6: As I requested last week, it brought back Paul and minimized Tracy and Pete. It kept the action to 30 minutes. And I don’t think Jack mentioned Avery once. Jack was back to being good, old, rich, mean Jack—and wearing a tuxedo for basically the entire episode, no less! (A sweet nod to this classic exchange: Liz: Why are you wearing a tuxedo? Jack: It’s after 6 o’clock, Lemon. What am I, a farmer?) I do declare, 30 Rock is back on track. Hooray!
Kenneth: The gym said the odor is attracting bugs, which is attracting bats, which is attracting bat hawks.
Cerie: What’s a commercial?
Liz: Is that brain? Hopefully it’s not an important plarg of my blern.
Liz: I’m going to clear out that whole theater and watch a sneak peek of The Hunger Games by myself! It will be my greatest triumph. There’s a Q&A; afterwards with... oh, the screenwriter. Yech.
1. Did you notice Cerie, the hot intern/receptionist, had a line this episode? They haven’t been using her much lately, but I was really happy to see her!
2. What was your favorite line?