One of the fans’ great hopes for Tina Fey’s new comedy show 30 Rock was that there would finally be a good sketch comedy show back on TV. Centering on the writers, performers and network executives at a fictional variety show, Fey nixed any early thoughts on actually putting sketches within the series.
Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock Sketches
“We thought maybe we’d see little bits now and then and we probably will see a few lines if it serves the story,” she said. “But to really show a big chunk of it felt a little square.”
Surely, Fey has boatloads of great material that was cut from Saturday Night Live. Am I going to go through my trunk? No. Not so much.
This change in focus required the total recasting of a leading role. SNL alumnus Rachel Dratch originally played the role of the show within a show’s star. Now Jane Krakowski plays that part.
“What happened was once we realized after doing the pilot that we were never going to see sketches, then we wanted to take Rachel who is a sketch player and use her differently. She’s still in the show and she’s going to play a series of characters. You’ll see she plays a cat wrangler in the pilot and then she’ll come back another week as a different character. A week or two after that she’ll come back as a different character.”
Fey was never going to lose Dratch completely, and not just for legal reasons. “Rachel Dratch threatened to sue me. No, there’s an old season at Second City which is you never cut funny. It’s more funny, more funny people the better.”
With Krakowski in the role, Fey plans to take advantage of her special talents. “She’s singing in episode two. Oh, we’re going to milk her. We’re going to work her like a work horse.”
Krakowski is game to put her Broadway talents to use. “I love it,” Krakowski said. “We have endless boundaries really in the reality of this show because of the fact that it is backstage of a show so the more they want to add that in, I love it.”
The fake sketch show is called The Girlie Show, also Fey’s idea. “One, I wanted it to seem like a show that my character had created that had sort of a feminine sensibility so that when Alec’s character and Tracy’s character invaded it, you could get the sense that it was this male presence coming in and taking over,” Fey said. “And then I also sort of thought if you had a female driven star and that it was sort of like The Man Show, it seemed sort of like a sketch show title to me. And the fact that we have kind of hot lady dancers made it seem like it was a neo feminist reappropriation of Fly Girls.”