NBC Thursday Night Comedy 10/14/10 Recap: “My Advice Is… Stop Crying”

All in all, Thursday was a good night. The live episode of ’30 Rock’ was a bit of a letdown, but ‘Community’ and ‘The Office’ held it together for a really great night of comedy.


It’s a space race between Greendale and City College. Sort of, anyway. The two schools are rushing to be the first to feature a space flight training simulator in a slightly obvious but still very funny episode.

There’s a definite ‘Apollo 13‘ vibe throughout the entire episode, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The parody works and actually builds the drama while still being funny. Abed especially is in top form.

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of really bad jokes and puns, so the fact that the KFC branded contraption is named the “Kentucky Fried 11 Herbs and Space Simulator” makes my day.

Pierce is tormented by a half-real and half-imagined digital Colonel Sanders, Jeff gives an inspirational speech that gets everyone in the Greendale spirit, and the dean finds out that handicapped spots count on weekends.

There’s another little moment in here where Chang tries really hard but fails and is rejected. I hope this is leading up to something big, or it’ll all be for naught.

It’s one of the easiest jokes that actually makes me laugh the most by the end of this episode. You know how some things aren’t funny until they’re repeated over and over again? The “E. Pluribus Anus” flag seems dumb at first, but by the end I found myself really getting a kick out of people waving them with a look of pride on their faces.

30 Rock

There’s a lot of potential in a live show, but this week’s episode of ’30 Rock’ just doesn’t live up to it. I haven’t had a chance to see the second live episode, so viewers in time zones further west may have a different experience.

Let’s talk about the good. I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus filling in as Liz – that’s just plain clever. Matt Damon delivers as usual, and there’s definitely a lot of energy in the room.

Alec Baldwin is dead-on as well. Since Avery can’t drink due to the pregnancy, Jack isn’t drinking either, which leads to an amazing moment where Jack gets up close and personal to smell the alcohol on Jenna’s breath.

Tracy’s segment, on the other hand, just doesn’t work. He wants to break out laughing in the middle of a sketch, Carol Burnett-style. Liz tells him not to do it because it’s cheap. Tracy explains that this is what the audience wants and does it anyway. This gag could have worked really well in a normal episode, but it doesn’t work in a live episode.

I went to see a band called Exodus a few years ago. You may not immediately see why this is relevant but bear with me. Exodus has one hit song called “Toxic Waltz.” It’s a song I like and it’s why I went to see the band. At the show, the lead singer screams out to the audience that they’re not playing the song, because they hate it. It’s not a great feeling.
’30 Rock’ felt similar. Let’s face it, half of the excitement about watching ’30 Rock’ live is the chance that something will go wrong. By having Tracy – the character who’s always wrong – embrace that, the show is making fun of us for wanting to see it.

I also found myself really becoming annoyed with the audience. They cheered at everything, laughed way too much at lame jokes, and really had a strange effect on the pacing of the show.

The live episode of ’30 Rock’ is really self-indulgent and self-referential, but as long as it doesn’t become a habit it’s not a big problem. I’m definitely looking forward to a traditional taped show next week.

The Office

Season seven is going strong so far after a really rough start. Andrew Bernard takes a major role yet again, and Michael actually seems human instead of cartoonish and horrible. The only problem that I really have is the cold open.

It’s not that I take offense somehow, or that I don’t think the joke is funny – I just find myself confused. I know that there are plenty of places around the country where day laborers wait outside of home improvement stores looking for work, but Pennsylvania doesn’t seem a likely one. I haven’t ever seen it in Michigan, and I didn’t see it when I visited Pennsylvania a few years ago. Of course, I could be wrong.

Michael Scott goes on an impromptu post-mortem tour to visit his old girlfriends and reveal that he has herpes. To be more accurate, he merely thinks he has herpes on his lip, but it may be an ingrown moustache hair.

This is a bit of an old-school episode for Michael, who takes Dwight along on the road trip. He isn’t the funniest character, but this return to the Michael we know and love is definitely a good thing.

The best part of the episode is Andy Bernard taking over Michael’s role as the guy who calls meetings whenever he feels like it. Ed Helms is a truly funny man, and his list of sex pros and cons is one of the highlights of the episode.

Andy’s temper comes back towards the end of the episode, followed by a quick heart-to-heart with Daryl which results in a line that only Craig Robinson could do justice to. “I don’t know what’s got you upset, but my advice is… Stop crying.”


  1. Shayne

    For some reason my dvr went bat shit last night and only recorded thirty seconds of 30 rock, labeled it Community and didn’t record Community at all. I are disappoint.

  2. Just watched the West Coast version of 30 Rock and there weren’t too many major differences but here we go.

    The Liz joke about Johnathan was Aladdin rather than Slumdog Millionaire.

    Leo Spaceman’s songs were dirtier

    Drew’s donated hands were female (which I thought was funnier.)

    Also, for some reason Matt Damon didn’t get as much applause or laughter. I’m not sure why though, since his delivery was pretty similar.

  3. The live 30 Rock was weird. It didn’t feel like 30 Rock. However, I thought there was still plenty of funny stuff in there.

    Both Community and 30 Rock were loaded up with easter eggs for HD viewers. I loved all the tiny print KFC labels in the space simulator. And in the Leo Spaceman commerical in 30 Rock, there’s a pamphlet behind him that says, “Face Replacement! Why Not?”

  4. Adam

    I had mostly the same sort of reaction as you, though I wasn’t totally impressed with Community this week. To me, it was a little TOO over the top. One of the bits on the Season 1 DVD commentary was creator Dan Harmon saying that in S1, they deliberately kept every scene (or 98% at least) at Greendale – they didn’t visit homes, go off campus, etc. He noted that the show’s success and the establishment of S1 would let them move some events off-campus in S2. We saw a bit of that in the opening scenes of the first episode – the wakeup scenes in the cast’s bedrooms – and this was another trip off-campus. While there were legitimately funny moments, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually do.

    The live 30 Rock was kind of ehh for me. Maybe I had built up too high of expectations for it and so had unreasonably high hopes, but so much of it just felt forced. I loved the fake “commercials” with Dr. Spaceman and Drew, but some of the jokes just weren’t that funny, especially the whole Tracy intentionally breaking thing which you mentioned. He did it in just terribly unfunny ways. JLD filling in for Tina Fey was a great idea and really helped, I think. It was sort of amazing to see them standing next to each other at the end and see just how similar they looked. I also thought that the super-sharp focus looked AWFUL compared to the normal focus. And definitely, the crowd was a huge detractor – they just made it hard to watch at points. I generally hate live audiences or laugh tracks – I have several seasons of old MASH episodes on DVD, and there is an option to turn the laugh track off. It’s amazing how much better the show is without the laughter.

    I mostly enjoyed The Office this week. There was a lot of focus on Michael, but not in a cartoonish way for the most part. It seems that they really are picking up some steam again, which is awesome. Andy’s bit with the pros and cons was hilarious – every time he had to move one back over. I was a little miffed at not having any screen time with Holly, but I guess, given the excuse for meeting the women, it wasn’t feasible for her to be there. It was interesting to see Jan go back to being the “good” Jan – all buttoned up and straight, and then go right back to crazy town. Astrid seems to have grown at slightly mutant speed, by the way.

    I didn’t even bother watching Outsourced. Blah.

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