spooky scary

The Lyrics to 30 Rock’s ‘Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,’ Annotated by Its Writer

Boys becoming men, men becoming … Photo: 30 Rock Official/YouTube

Before there was Kabletown, Kidney Now!, or even MILF Island, 30 Rock delivered the perfect ten-second joke at the start of its second season: Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) takes a mental walk down memory lane about a certain novelty party song that earned him a gold record, “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.” It’s an inspiring song, really. Boys become men, and men become wolves, completing their coming-of-age journey into the canine lupus species. Aroooooo! The expanded version of the song, in addition to its Thriller-lite music video, was a collaborative effort between numerous 30 Rock staffers, including writer Tami Sagher, creator and star Tina Fey, writer Robert Carlock, and composer Jeff Richmond. But as Sagher recalled to Vulture in a recent interview, recording a studio version of “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” was birthed only after viewers went “crazy” for the song snippet when the episode aired, as the network made it difficult for fans to access the spooky and scary clip.

“As the Housewives would say, it was all over the blogs. That was really gratifying,” Sagher explained. “NBC would take down anything off of YouTube, force you to go to the NBC site, and then make you watch a 30-second ad for a seven-second clip. It felt like such a waste of goodwill and possible attention for the show.” So with the help of the aforementioned creative trio, Sagher penned some “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” drafts prior to Jordan and then-30 Rock writer Donald Glover recording the song.

Sagher wasn’t present for the studio session, and said some jokes were tweaked in the midst of all the fun. “It all happened really fast,” she said. “It was such a tight deadline. We maybe had 24 hours before Halloween … the thinking was that we could record it and leak it to some places like Gawker and College Humor, who were such 30 Rock supporters.” The rest, just like that rocking werewolf zoo at Temple Beth-Emmanuel, was history.

“I feel so lucky. There were so many moving parts that made that show work, so many incredibly talented and hard working people in every department,” Sagher added about the song’s enduring popularity. “To be part of one of the bits that’s getting asked about all these years later? That’s cool as hell.” To celebrate this rare full-moon Halloween, read on and enjoy her annotations for the full song, performed by Morgan with interjections by Glover.

(Aw man, Tray, look up at the sky
It’s a full moon on the Sabbath)
This is scary
Break it down

I was working late on my Haftorah
When I heard a knock on my bedroom-doorah
I opened it up and to my surprise
There was a werewolf standing there with glowing gold eyes
He says ‘tomorrow my son, you will be a man
But tonight’s the time to join the wolfen clan
Tomorrow you will stand at the bimah and pray
But tonight let’s gaze at the moon and bay’

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah
Spooky scary
Boys becoming men
Men becoming wolves
Werewolf Bar Mitzvah
Spooky scary
Boys becoming men
Men becoming wolves
(All right, that was great Tray
Okay, it’s over, that’s a wrap, oh)

The next day what happened
The Talmud didn’t teach (oh there’s more)
I got up in front of everyone
To give my little speech
Then my teeth turned into fangs
And my nails into claws
And I nearly dropped the Torah
When my hands turned into paws
I growled and I roared
And my rabbi did as well
It was a rocking werewolf zoo
At Temple Beth-Emmanuel
(Ey man, where’d you learn
All these Jewish words?)
My manager, Harvey Lemmings

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah
Spooky scary
Boys becoming men
Men becoming wolves

(I don’t, I, I just don’t think this the idea of the song
Can sustain itself for that long
Because it, it seems a little sweaty now)
So this whole premise is sweaty

We had a reception at the Larchmont Country Club
They served a real nice brisket and an eight foot party sub
I danced with my cousins, I got money from my folks
We had a lot of fun making circumcision jokes
Then I remembered the premise of my song
I was at a nice reception but the werewolf part was gone
So we pulled ourselves together and we’re wolf men again
Just in time for monster fight to begin (no)
All the country club employees were brain sucking pack
Who had all turned into zombies and were on the attack (no, man)
So we fought them and some Dracula’s and Frankensteins too
’Cause you gotta love Bar Mitzvah, even if you’re not a, aroo

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah
(There’s not such thing as Frankensteins, steins)
Spooky scary
(There’s no plural Frankenstein)
Boys becoming men
Men becoming wolves
Werewolf Bar Mitzvah
Kooky hairy
Boys becoming men
Men becoming wolves

I don’t want this, I don’t like this, this is scary
Turning into werewolves and stuff, you know?
I got excited when I saw poodle on the street the other day

This stuff was recorded in the booth with Donald, not sure who came up with what. My guess is they took Tracy saying “this is scary” from later in the song. That’s what you want, right? An article with uninformed guesses? If I had been there I probably would have suggested saying Shabbat instead Sabbath because that’s what my family and I call it. They probably would have stuck with Sabbath anyway. I had to Google bar mitzvah terms for these lyrics, like Haftorah. I never actually had a bat mitzvah, or even been to one when I wrote this. Since then I’ve gone to the bar and bat mitzvahs for all of my nieces and nephews, as well as for the countless teens who I count as my dear friends. So proud of this rhyme. Teen Wolf vibes. I knew the word bimah, didn’t need Google for that one. It’s important for me that you strangers know I went to synagogue. Oh man. A Jewish boy PRAYS and a wolf BAYS! That rhyme dropped in my lap, and that’s when I knew God was onboard for us expanding this bit into a full-length song. Knew that one too. Nearly dropped the Torah. Even in a novelty song, you’re not allowed to drop the Torah. “Monster Mash” meets Teen Wolf. I’ve actually never seen Teen Wolf. But I have seen that final scene where they’re playing basketball and the camera pans across the crowd and an extra slipped his dick out. Jumps up and down in this movie, exposing himself. Now I just Googled it and it turns out it didn’t happen? What? Whose dick was I watching? This is hilarious! I had nothing to do with it. I bet this came from Carlock. When I sent my first draft of the song to him, Tina and Jeff, Carlock’s big note was that it was too straightforward, things had to fall apart. It’s Tracy Jordan, after all. My best friend in college grew up in Larchmont. She’s exponentially a better Jew than I am, definitely wouldn’t have needed Google to write this. This was a shout out to her. For sure one of the punchlines would have been “keep the tip,” am I right? Any time there are spoken words, I don’t know their origin. They might have come from Carlock, Tina, Jeff, or Donald. I know that Donald did some ad-libbing in the booth. He’s always been hilarious. I think Tracy left before the song was fully recorded, so when Donald went in he didn’t just riff as Tracy’s friend, but filled in some spots with his Tracy impression. No idea who came up with “kooky, hairy” but it makes me laugh.
The Lyrics to 30 Rock’s ‘Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,’ Annotated