Comedian and actor Judah Friedlander is probably best known for his role as deadpan/dimwit Frank Rositano on 30 Rock, but many people don't realize that he's also had a long and successful career in standup and film. On top of that, he's the World Champion (of pretty much everything) and author of "How To Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book." He's also speaking on the Internet Week panel "Everyone's A Comedian," which asks the question: comedy is hard, so why is everyone doing it online? We talked to Friedlander about his abiding love of ping pong, his distaste toward Murray Hill, and the plan for the next season of 30 Rock.

Yo, it's Judah. Hey Judah, it's Jamie.

What's going on? Oh you know, just at work, the usual. How are you?

Pretty good. Well, thanks for chatting with me.

Yeah, are we at the end or are we still going? No, that's it.

Ok cool, that was great. Yeah, very to the point. So what's going on?

I want to talk to you first about what’s going on with you and Internet Week. I can feel it in the air. I can see all the WiFi connections going crazy through the air.

You have a panel about how the internet is changing the face of comedy. I'm just going there to learn, I don't really have anything to say. I'm just going there to find out how it's changing.

Any guesses? Has the internet made it easier to be a comic? I have no idea. As far as the interactions between people that come to my stand-up shows, instead of interacting with me during the show and me hanging out at the club after the show, they can interact with me online.

Do you like people coming after you on Twitter and Facebook? I don't know if I would use the term 'coming after me,’ because I think most people would be afraid to actually come after me. They know they're messing with the World Champion. But no, it can be good. Twitter can be a lot of fun. You have to write such short things, it forces you to be concise, so...often on Twitter I'll just find things on there, I love to just post new jokes I've thought of. Sometimes they're not even jokes I'm going to use in my act, they're jokes that might be good for that day, a topical joke. In my stand-up act I don't really do any topical jokes. It's jokes that can last a long time, they're not time-sensitive. But on Twitter I can do more current event-type jokes, so I'll do that. Sometimes you know, people will write crazy things to me, like funny shit back, and it's interactive that way, that can be a lot of fun.

As far as marketing and that kind of shit, I don't know anything about that. I'm not like a business person. I should be be utilizing it to like, make money off Twitter. I’ve never really done that stuff. I'm still not even verified on Twitter, I don't even know how to do that. That's why I’m at Internet Week—I'm just trying to get verified on Twitter. After this panel, they'll see that it's me, and they'll be like, Ok, we can verify him. Because I don't know how this verification process works at Twitter, but it seems to be very complicated. I have yet to be able to crack the code.

I want to talk about your stand-up also for a minute. You have a long history as a stand-up comedian before you were known for your 30 Rock role. Do you miss it?
I do stand-up all the time. Even when I'm doing 30 Rock, I'm still out there several nights a week. Last night I did two shows, I'll probably do two or three tonight. I do multiple shows pretty much every night. That's my favorite thing to do. I do miss it, I do miss it. After eight months of 30 Rock, often the last thing I want to do is act in another movie.

This is kind of like summer break for you. Yeah! It's like being back in school. Although I never liked school. I don't like the film and TV business, I don't like their hours. I don't know why films have to start filming at 6 a.m. I've never understood that.
Especially if they're filming outdoors, I understand. But if they're filming indoors, how about starting at noon? That's what Clint Eastwood does it. They do like seven or eight hour days. Regular movies do like twelve hour days or fourteen hour days. At 30 Rock we do fourteen hour days. Clint Eastwood, he's done in eight. I like that.

So clearly we need to hook you up with Clint Eastwood. Maybe on Twitter.
Clint Eastwood should start guest directing 30 Rock episodes.

The ratings would be huge. Yeah, the ratings would be huge. And I'd be out at 3 o'clock.

Have you ever had to consider moving to L.A.?
No, I've worked out there but I came back. I did some movies and that kind of took me out there and I wound up living out there for two years because my New York apartment got flooded with shit and sewage.

Literally? Where was your apartment?
It was in Ditmars. Literally, there was a thunderstorm going on, I'm leaving a friend of mine a message on his answering machine, and I start hearing some news coming out of my bathroom, and I'm like, Hey, I'll call you back, I think there's a leak in my bathroom. And I literally see brown water rising up out of my toilet and the tub. And then it just starts firehosing out. Then about ten minutes later my entire apartment is about an inch and a half deep in brown sewage water. Basically everything from the whole neighborhood's toilets. So I was like, Fuck it, I guess I have to move to L.A. because I'm not staying here in this place. So I moved to LA and after about two years I was like, What the fuck am I doing here, so I had to move back.

Let's talk about Murray Hill for a second, because you've dissed Murray Hill in the past. It's hilarious, yeah. Here's an example of the craziness on the internet. Early one night, I had just been driving home from doing a few shows in the city. It was a Saturday night. I live out in Queens, I'm driving home. Murray Hill going up like 3rd Avenue, there's a certain stretch of about five or six blocks where it looks like a frat party in Dallas in like the 1980s. It doesn't look like New York. It's just...tons of college and post-college kids just shitfaced, you know, at pretty cheesy bars and they're just all over the streets, puking drunk. It's like New Year's Eve-level drunk, but it's just a regular Saturday night. It's just a gross neighborhood, it's just kind of lame. It's always been a pretty nondescript neighborhood, but it was never, like, annoying. It might have been, oh there's not much to do here, people live here, it's nice, it's fine. But now there's a high annoyance factor. Not just extremely drunk people, but extremely proud and seemingly self-entitled drunk people. I don't know if they are or not, they might be. But anyways, they're having a good time. It can be pretty annoying a neighborhood, so I just Twittered one time, 'Murray Hill just got voted the most culture-less neighborhood of all time in New York City.' And literally, the next day, there's an article from a local online magazine for Murray Hill, and they've taken issue with me about how I ripped their neighborhood, and they responded on how all the cultural things that Murray Hill does have. And they also agreed with a lot of the things I did say. I just thought that the fact that they wrote a whole article defending themselves based on one Twitter that was a joke, not even meant to be taken seriously, shows how lame the neighborhood really is!

So you stand by it. [Laughs] Yes! Yes! They listed the cultural things, the whatchamacallit—the New York Library and the New York Comic Club, which I thought was pretty hilarious. They did fail to mention that Murray Hill has Sarge's Deli, one of the most underrated delis in the city.

You prefer Sarge's over 2nd Avenue? Oh they have 2nd Ave Deli, too. But here's the thing with Sarge's. First of all, there's hardly any more old-style Jewish delis left in the city. So whatever's left, you gotta appreciate it. But Sarge's is cheaper than the other delis in general, by a lot. Most Jewish delis are overpriced. A tuna fish sandwich should not cost $16, it's bullshit, you know? So while Sarge's may be...Sarge's is definitely not overrated because most people don't think highly of it, but some of the stuff is actually pretty good there. Here's the other thing, though: they deliver 24 hours a day, to anywhere in Manhattan. For an extra $3, they will deliver ANYWHERE in Manhattan. That's fucking amazing.

And while we’re talking about Jewish food: I'm going to call out New York bagels. I'm going to start another controversy. In general, Queens and Long Island—better bagels than Manhattan. I know that's going to hurt some Manhattan people so hard.

Name some names. You're going to have back this up.
I don't know the names, I just go to them.

Well, what makes them better? Are they chewier? Fluffier? I'll tell you what's wrong with New York bagels. Even H&H. I'll call out H&H bagel. Ok? A plain bagel. should be delicious. You shouldn't have to have an everything bagel to get flavor on the bagel. A plain bagel should be seasoned well enough that that alone has great flavor. H&H bagels? There's no flavor to 'em. And unless you get an everything bagel or an onion bagel, there's like, no flavor on it. And many of the Manhattan bagels have gotten too big. So the crust-to-dough ratio is off, it's way off.

Ok, ok. This could start some serious drama for you. But we'll see how it plays out.
Here's the thing with Manhattan. Manhattan's great but Manhattan can get a little too cocky and arrogant. As the World Champion, I know this, because I'm a winner and I'm undefeated, so I know that you can never get too big of a head and think you're too cool, ‘cuz there's always hungry people climbing up to the top. But if you think about it, who has more old-school, old-fashioned Jews? Queens, Long Island or Manhattan? Manhattan is so gentrified, there's hardly any real Jews that still know how to make the bagel right. And in Queens and Long Island, you have more of them that do it right. Even Florida, even Miami and Ft. Lauderdale [have] some great bagels, because they have the old Jews that have left New York.

Can we talk about you and ping pong? This is a legit thing that you really love, right? This isn't part of World Champion?
Yeah, that’s all me. That's why I do a lot of events with all the people over at that club Spin.

Which is kind of close to Murray Hill. Yeah, but it's still not. It's still not Murray Hill. Definitely not Murray Hill or the Indian restaurants on Lexington.

Yeah, Curry Hill. I feel like Curry Hill should secede from Murray Hill. I stand corrected. It is a separate neighborhood, it's Curry Hill. That's how culture-less Murray Hill is. They forced Curry Hill to be a separate neighborhood. But yeah, the ping-pong stuff.

When did you start playing? I played a little bit competitively as a kid and then I quit for years and then I started up again like three years ago. So that's how I know like the owners of Spin, I used to play against those guys at like, official sanctioned tournaments in the Tri-State area, and then they opened up a club, so I would do stuff, help promote their club and ping-pong.

I've seen some videos of you playing ping-pong and it's kind of terrifying. You saw a video?

I saw a video where you're eating pizza and playing ping-pong. Oh yeah! That was at a Korean club in Queens, in Flushing. I go there sometimes.

Do you have to be a member of these clubs? No, no, you don't have to be a member. All the clubs, you can do both. You can have a monthly membership like a gym, where you pay whatever it is a month and then...There are two types of ping-pong clubs in New York. There's the ones that are just no-frills. It's literally like, seven ping-pong tables, maybe a Coke machine, and that's it. And it's mostly just for serious players to train and it's also just, if you want to go there and rent a table for an hour and have fun, you can play, too. But the people who usually go to those are just people who are really into competitive ping-pong. Chinatown has a club, Upper West Side has a club, Flushing has three clubs, there's an all-Russian club in Brooklyn, and by all-Russian I mean Russian-owned and it's mostly Russian guys that play there, but it's for everybody. And then in Manhattan, the only full-time ping-pong club that's also a nightclub, a bar, a restaurant, that's Spin. That's like a fancy, fun, upscale place, and that place is a mix of people having office parties, renting out some tables. During the day, you have top guys in the country training there during the day. And then on weekends it might be kids having a birthday party, a ping-pong party. It's a whole mix of all different things. And then every Friday night they have a tournament that anyone can watch for free, and it's the top guys in the city and the country playing a ping-pong tournament.

You wrote a book. The World Champion wrote a book. Yeah, it's called How to Beat Up Anybody. You should go to my website, if you have you can see Letterman or Daily Show or Jimmy Fallon talking about it. If you haven’t seen it, the book is like a fake instructional karate book, like a slideshow, with my commentary.


I wanted to ask if it was hard for you to maintain World Champion throughout the writing of the entire book, but now I think that that was a bad question because it seems like it’s so natural for you. No, it's very easy, very easy. It’s natural.

It was a natural progression to move World Champion to written form? I like to do comedy in different mediums because different mediums allow you different things. The book was a way to be an extension of my stand-up act and have it be all new material, and stuff that would work better in book form than in stand-up form.
Stand-up is my favorite, it's the most immediate, it's the most interactive, it's the most high-pressure of any comedic art forms or platforms. You can run a funny website and just be hidden and no one can ever even know who you are. In stand-up, you're right out there, all you've got is a mic, it's you and the audience—that's it. And that's my favorite.
In a book, it doesn't have to be that highlight-reel mentality. There are things you can illustrate with a book that you cannot do in stand-up. Maybe in a book you can do a drawing or a photo of it. My book as a flipbook in it. I can't do that in my stand-up act.

I have one more question about what you're doing this summer, and when 30 Rock starts up again. That's a good question. If you could find out when 30 Rock starts up again, let me know, because I don't know. No, I think 30 Rock starts up again in...uhh...I think it starts up again in September/October, and as far as I know, the only reason why we're delayed is because Tina's having another kid, and I think she's having it right around the time we normally start filming again, so we're delaying our filming an extra two months.

And this summer, anything else you’re working on? I’ve been doing stand-up for 22 years. I should have had about five CDs out already and a couple of specials and I've done none of that. Partially from my own lack of organization, and partially from disliking the way, strongly, the way stand-up is filmed and put on television, for the most part. I hate the way they do things. What I'm working on this summer is making my own stand-up concert documentary movie. I'm doing it myself and then I'll figure out how to get people to see it after I make it.