Jack McBrayer was improvising a tampon commercial while guarding an opponent in an imaginary basketball game last night at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre, and despite being an actor known for his impressive improv skills, he just wasn’t hitting the mark. But with a standing-room-only audience who were thrilled to see Kenneth from 30 Rock gamboling about their stage in his familiar intern uniform, he really didn’t have to do anything at all to get their applause.
Hot on the heels of Saturday Night Live’s surprise off-camera performance at the same theater over the weekend, last night’s 30 Rock show was a bit more subdued. Instead of dance parties and too-hot-for-TV sketches, the full regular cast did a loose reading of an upcoming but already taped episode of the show (ensuring Tina Fey won’t wake up to an inflatable rat outside her apartment). The night was complete with improvised commercials (which pleased the UCB faithful) and a raffle of Sheinhardt Wig Company T-shirts signed by the cast.
Another reason for all the goodwill from the audience was that all the proceeds from the ticket sales and the raffle will go into the pockets of the recently laid-off production assistants for the show, who presumably don’t have the advantage of superstar salaries to keep the Cristal flowing during the strike. It was pretty obvious that even the stars were having fun as well, as we heard Tracy Morgan pumping the cast up just before the opening curtain and saw that nobody was laughing as hard at the tampon jokes as Alec Baldwin. —Ehren Gresehover