We’ve known since season one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt that the show shares similarities with 30 Rock. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock are behind both shows, while Fey’s husband, Jeff Richmond, composes the music for UKS and 30 Rock. They both take place in New York (actually, Fey and Carlock confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the shows take place in the same New York) and share a very specific Tina Fey language. (What would a Tina Fey show be without very quotable one-liners like “Workin’ on my night cheese” or “Hashbrown, no filter”?). In season two, UKS ramps up the 30 Rock-esque joke density, and for the devoted 30 Rock fan, it’s also filled with tiny references to Tina Fey’s first show. Below, we’ve compiled all the 30 Rock references in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season two. (The broadest similarities, such as general comparisons between characters, were left off.)
Of course, many actors appear on both shows, the obvious ones being Jane Krakowski (Jenna and Jacqueline), Tituss Burgess (D’Fawn and Titus), and Tina Fey herself (Liz on 30 Rock, Marcia Clark and Andrea on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Let’s get down to the supporting players:
- On 30 Rock, Jon Hamm plays Liz’s boyfriend Drew; on UKS, he is Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne.
- Mike Carlsen is an unnamed construction worker who catcalls Liz in “When It Rains, It Pours.” In season one of UKS, he plays Mikey, a construction worker who catcalls Kimmy and Titus in a very similar scene. In season two, he becomes a love interest for Titus.
- There’s Jason Kravitz, who plays a guy at Liz Lemon’s high-school reunion in “Reunion.” On UKS, he appears as Mr. Dubbing, the lawyer handling the dispute between Titus and Vonda in “Kimmy Goes Roller Skating!” and Jacqueline’s art case in “Kimmy Walks Into a Bar!”
- Dean Winters plays Liz’s horrible boyfriend Dennis; he also voices Bunny on the TV show Bunny and Kitty in “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”
- On 30 Rock, Will Arnett appears as Devon Banks. He also voices the Kitty to Dean Winters’ Bunny in the aforementioned episode.
- On 30 Rock, Fred Armisen plays Liz’s neighbor Raheem in “Somebody to Love” and Frank 2.0 and Telethon Woman in “Live from Studio 6H.” On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he plays Robert Durst, Lillian’s old flame.
- Jeff Richmond appears as an accompanist at TGS named Alfonso. On UKS, he is the accompanist at Titus’s audition in “Kimmy Sees a Sunset!”
- Scott Adsit plays Pete on 30 Rock and the snake in Kimmy’s animated Disney-esque fantasy in “Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place.”
- Steve Buscemi plays Lenny Wosniak on 30 Rock and also voiced himself on the app Gretchen has that makes your voice sound like different celebrities in “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!” He also directed episode eight of UKS.
- Brian Berrebbi appears on 30 Rock in two different roles: Dave in “Retreat to Move Forward” and Reynolds in “Larry King.” He’s back on UKS as Andrea’s easily forgotten patient Harold in “Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!”
Mouthy Descriptions of Kissing
On 30 Rock, while describing her plan to seduce Drew, Liz says, “I will put my mouth on his mouth” (“Generalissimo”)
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kimmy says to Dong mid-makeout, “I also want to rub my mouth on your mouth so I don’t boof” (“Kimmy Goes Roller Skating!”). In “Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!” Titus advises a young boy about love, saying, “That’s when it’s time to put your mouth on her mouth.”
On 30 Rock, Jack tries to seduce Kathy Geiss. Liz tells him “you smell like strawberries” to which Jack replies, “that’s the lip gloss she put on me so I could be her fancy boy” (“Do-Over”). In “Sun Tea,” Bertram Geiss says “I, Bertram Geiss, am still Daddy’s fancy boy.”
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, we learn that the name of Buckley’s school is St. Clotilde’s School for Fancy Boys (“Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!”).
On 30 Rock, Jack’s prickly girlfriend Phoebe keeps assuming Liz doesn’t remember her. From “Corporate Crush”:
Phoebe: Hello, you probably don’t remember me. I’m Phoebe, we met the other day.
Liz: Yeah, yeah, I remember you. I’m Liz.
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dong’s green-card wife Sonja, from their GED class, introduces herself to Kimmy at the brunch she and Dong host as if Kimmy doesn’t remember her (“Kimmy Goes Roller Skating!”).
Sonja: Kimmy, it’s Sonja from GED class. Also, the cartoon Anastasia is about me.
Kimmy: Of course, Sonja, hello.
In “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!” Cyndee assumes Kimmy doesn’t remember her even though they spent 15 years in a bunker together.
Cyndee: Hiya Kimmy, it’s Cyndee Pokorny. We put a madman in jail together?
Kimmy: Yes, Cyndee, I remember you.
In “Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!” Cyndee calls Kimmy and once again assumes she has to jog Kimmy’s memory. “Surprise! It’s Cyndee! Pokorny? From kidnapping?”
Liz and Titus share a love of the musical Annie. Liz sings “Maybe” in “Jack Meets Dennis.” In “The Tuxedo Begins,” a young girl steps off a bus singing “NYC” before asking Liz, “Say, where does a young prostitute get started in this town?”
In “Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!”, Titus donates some of his clothes to a thrift store and he a Lillian have this exchange:
Titus: My clothes will be plucked from this hellhole like so many orphans Annie.
Lillian: Exactly, your clothes are special, like Annie. The rest of this stuff is ugly. No one wants it. Like the other orphans who eventually aged out of the system.
In “Kimmy Gives Up!”, Lillian and Titus sing “Just Go On” from Gangly Orphan Jeff, the fake, ill-fated musical that opened six days after Annie. The song is similar to “Tomorrow” from Annie. It starts: “On the sun will rise in the morning, or so I’m told, but who knows.”
Invisible Furry Monsters
Throughout 30 Rock, Liz and Tracy hallucinate the same furry blue creature, played by Rachel Dratch.
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Lillian says, “There’s a gigantic furry monster that only I can see.” Later, she looks into space and says, “Well, why didn’t you eat him?” (“Kimmy Goes to a Play!”).
The Sbarro Family
On 30 Rock, Jack dates Pizzarina Sbarro, “the heiress to the Sbarro slice and calzone fortune” (“Stride of Pride”).
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, when Mikey says he’s Italian, Lillian tries to protect Titus, saying, “If this is about what he did in that Sbarro bathroom, I understand the Sbarro family must feel deeply disrespected but there’s no need for a revenge killing” (“Kimmy Goes to a Play!”).
The Amish are a frequent topic of conversation on 30 Rock, as Liz’s hometown of Whitehaven, PA, has an Amish population. In “Leap Day,” Liz says, “Whitehaven was founded by the Amish and we really only celebrated their holidays. After high school I went on Rumspringa. It was crazy. I totally snuck into The Witches of Eastwick.”
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus says, “You need my ex box. This is where I keep all the junk that was left here by heartbroken exes. Part-time lovers, Amish boys on Rumspringa, and so on.” (“Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”)
Bodily Function Portmanteaus
Liz coins the term “liz” (a combination of laugh and whiz) in “Apollo, Apollo,” and “snart” (a combination of sneeze and fart) in “Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning.”
Titus invents the word “feeze,” a food sneeze, in “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”
Brian Williams pitches Jack a show about lizard people in “Que Sorpresa!”:
Brian Williams: And then I pull off my mask, and I’m a lizard person too. Blackout. End of episode.
In season one’s “Kimmy Goes to School!” Titus says, “Come on, spirit gum. If you can keep Obama’s human mask on over his lizard face #lizardtruth, surely, you can do this.” Lizard people are referenced again in season two in “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”: the voice-over in the Church of Cosmetology video says: “Today, thousands of spiritual voyagers have learned the secrets of cosmetology. Secrets too cool to be understood by your family, who are actually lizard people. Or lotion people. The napkin the founder wrote this part on got wet.” Later, Gretchen tells Kimmy, “That’s exactly what a lizard or lotion person would say.”
This fictional New York neighborhood pops up in both shows. On 30 Rock, the boys baseball team Tracy coaches is from Knuckle Beach, “the worst neighborhood in New York.” As Tracy says, “They are poor as hell” (“Cougars”).
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the van that Gretchen adopts a pit bull from says “Knuckle Beach Animal Rescue & BBQ” (“Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”).
Yelling a Description of What You’re Startled By
When Liz sees Elisa she exclaims, “Puerto Rican!” (“The Ones”). When she sees Colleen, she exclaims “Necktie!”, a comment on Colleen’s menswear look featuring a tie (“The Moms”). When Jack is surprised by Liz, he shouts “Lesbian Mario Brothers!”, a comment on her shorteralls (“Brooklyn Without Limits”).
When Kimmy is startled by Lillian she yells, “Stoop crone!” (“Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”). When she and Andrea remember her patient Harold is in the room, Kimmy yells, “Couch man!” (“Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!”).
LaDonica is a pharmacist who is barely putting up with her job. Kenneth encounters her in “Tracy Does Conan” when trying to pick up Tracy’s medication. He says, “Fine, I will try the other location. But frankly, LaDonica, you have not been real helpful.”
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jacqueline says, “The last time I was in a drugstore was 2004 and an employee named LaDonica said to me ‘Bitch, I don’t know your life.’” (“Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”)
Liz frequently speaks German on 30 Rock (Tina Fey herself has German heritage). In “Episode 210,” we see a flashback of her studying abroad in Frankfurt:
Liz (in German): So many different types of sparrows!
In “Kimmy Drives a Car!”, Jacqueline looks into the camera holding up a pack of Mentos while a German voice-over plays.
Greek comes up on both shows frequently (Tina Fey also has Greek heritage). In season two, both shows allude to homosexuality in Ancient Greece. On 30 Rock, the closeted Devon Banks says, “It’s just like the Greeks!” after he wrestles with another man (“Jack Gets in the Game”).
In season one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, when Cyndee admits she knows Brandon is gay, she says: “Jeez, you think I don’t notice Brandon’s tooth-whitening strips or how he’s always talking about Ancient Greece and how things were different then?” Brandon starts to explain, “There was a culture of mentors and students …” (“Kimmy Kisses a Boy!”). In season two, Cyndee also references Brandon’s obsession with Ancient Greece: “Brandon says the Ancient Greeks called it ‘catharsis’ and it’s just one of the many ways they were real smart about stuff.” (“Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!”)
Lost in Translation
On 30 Rock, Liz’s not-so-firm grasp on German gets her in trouble when she accidentally sells NBC to a German TV studio (“Episode 210”).
Liz (in German): Gentlemen. Mr. Donaghy is not in the positions to worry himself this occurrence. But your business makings are much importance to his heart.
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jacqueline has trouble speaking Sioux. She yells “Coffee!” and “White idiot!” in Sioux when she’s locked in an overheated car and trying to call for help (“Kimmy Goes Roller Skating!”).
30 Rock’s Liz is famous for her unique lexicon, featuring made-up expressions like “blerg” and “pwomp.”
- On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus coins “foop,” which we first hear in season one (“Kimmy Rides a Bike!”) and again in season two in “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”
- In “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!” Titus coins “Wert?”
- Kimmy says, “What the huh?” in “Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!”
- In “Kimmy Meets Her Mom!” Lori-Anne says, “Oh my gah!”
- Kimmy exclaims “J’shnerp?” in “Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!” We know from earlier in the episode that it’s the name of a local bakery’s take on the pop-tart.
Couples Crossdressing As Each Other
On 30 Rock, Jenna’s boyfriend Paul is a Jenna Maroney impersonator. We frequently see Paul in costume as Jenna.
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Robert Durst, Lillian’s boyfriend, comes into Kimmy and Titus’s apartment dressed like Lillian (“Kimmy Drives a Car!”).
Roundabout Word Association
Both Tracy and Kimmy use very roundabout word association to come to a realization or remember something. They arrive at what they should be thinking of, get farther away from it, and then come back to it again. From “Leap Day”:
Tracy: What am I gonna do with all this free food? Remember where I came from. But we all came from the sea? Sea. Like the letter “c.” Which is part of the alphabet. Alphabet soup. Soup kitchen. Kitchen —
Hobo: No, no, don’t keep going.
Tracy: The kitchen debate with Richard Nixon. Richard M. Nixon. The M train. Soul train. Chicken soup for the soul. Soup. Soup kitchen.
From “Kimmy Walks Into a Bar!”:
Titus: Kimpanzee, you may have lived through a nightmare, but you learned so much cool stuff.
Kimmy: Like how to dress a pretend salad? Salad? Starter, track and field, field greens, salad, dress. Dress. I left the dress at the restaurant!
The Nile River Pun
From 30 Rock’s “Hey, Baby, What’s Wrong”:
Liz: What is she, an Egyptian crocodile? Because she is in denial.
From UKS’s “Kimmy Walks Into a Bar!”:
Keith: If you think you don’t have triggers, then you’re in denial.
Kimmy: Uh, you mean the river in Egypt?
It’s Pronounced “Wiener”
Both shows have characters with variations of the name “Wiener.” On 30 Rock, there’s Jeffrey Weinerslav; in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, there’s the Wiener family. Both shows make a joke that the name is actually pronounced like the hot dog (and other things). From 30 Rock’s “Jackie Jormp-Jomp”:
Liz: Excuse me, Mr. Weinerslav.
Jeffrey Weinerslav: It’s pronounced “wiener-slave.”
Liz: Okay, Jeffrey.
From UKS’s “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel”:
Jacqueline: I’m not giving anything to those whiners.
Russ Snyder: Ms. White, the family pronounces it “wiener.”
On 30 Rock, Jenna is supposed to star in a Janis Joplin biopic that is not based on Janis Joplin “for legal reasons.” They have to change the name to Jackie Jormp-Jomp (one of many names thrown around) and make the music similar, but legally different. Jenna sings a few of these songs. Here’s one from “Señor Macho Solo”:
Jenna (to the tune of “Piece of My Heart”): I’d like you to come on, come on, come on and take it, take another little chunk of my lung now, mister.
In the episode “Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!” one of the cassette collections Titus and Kimmy get in the mail is Now That Sounds Like Music!, “Music Inspired by But Legally Different From the Music You Love.” The episode features many songs from the tape. Here’s one:
Kimmy (to the tune of “Walking on Sunshine”): I’m hiking on sunlight, uh-huh.
Both shows make use of the technically correct but awkward sounding plural of “youth.” On 30 Rock, Liz says, “Oh god, youths!” (“Larry King”).
One of the most inspiring things Tracy has ever said on 30 Rock is “Live every week like it’s Shark Week” (“Jack the Writer”).
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus says, “Mikey told me Shark Week is now a union holiday” (”Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!”)
On 30 Rock, Jenna says, “These are the building blocks of the craft of acting, something I have dedicated my life to ever since my very first job as baby stuck in well in a commercial for Well Guards” (“Future Husband”).
In “Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!” one of the guests on The Dr. Dave Show was trapped in a well as a baby.
Dr. Dave: As a child, she spent three weeks trapped in well. It’s well-baby Baby Debbie, Deborah Wells.
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus says, “I’ll have you know, some youths threw those Oreos at me” (“Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!”).
Reluctant Product Placement
Both shows have jokes about how much the characters hate product placement. On 30 Rock, Liz and Jack pointedly mention Verizon, and then Liz looks at the camera and asks, “Can we have our money now?” (“Someone to Love”)
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, on The Dr. Dave Show, one of Dr. Dave’s sponsor shout-outs doesn’t go as well as the others. He name-drops Delta airlines, then says, “Delta: We hate this as much as you do” (“Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!”)
On 30 Rock, when Jenna isn’t listening but assumes people are complimenting her beauty, she claims to keep her routine simple. She does this twice in “Live From Studio 6H”:
Danny: Jenna, remember that package you made me take to Singapore last summer? I just got out of Changi Prison.
Jenna: Thank you! Just portion control and exercise.
Jenna: How could I have been so blind?
Hazel: Because you’re a horrible person.
Jenna: Thank you. Just portion control and lots of water.
On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, when Mikey says “How are your hands so smooth?” Titus responds, “Just diet and exercise. You’re not holding a mannequin hand” (“Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!”).
*An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of Tituss Burgess’s 30 Rock character. The name is D’Fwan, not D’Fawn.