Over the Christmas holidays, most of us were hanging around the office in cold and desolate New York — avoiding our families, fighting with our families, and sitting around our apartments watching old TV and eating night-cheese. What made it hardest was the absence of friends who empathized — someone who understood. Someone, like the crew at 30 Rockefeller Center.
Now that the show is finally returning, we decided to tell our pals from 30 Rock how much we like them — exactly how much we like them — by arranging them from funniest to least funny. And before you lock yourselves in your dressing rooms, we only included characters who appeared in more than one episode.
34. Cerie (Katrina Bowden)
Cerie may be hot. She may be extremely hot. But her deadpan delivery and, like, totally two-dimensional character earn her last place.
33. Don Geiss (Rip Torn)
Don Geiss is one of the show's least funny peripheral characters. In fact, we barely remember him — wasn't there some joke about a peacock?
32. Kathy Geiss (Marceline Hugot)
Kathy Geiss is a woman of few words, perhaps because she often has non-food items shoved in her mouth. Her funniest moments are when she falls for Jack and he, in a desperate attempt to usurp the presidency from Devon Banks, contemplates sleeping with her. But her ruddy-faced, mute, animal lust for Jack ends up being less funny than disturbing.
31. Floyd DeBarber (Jason Sudeikis)
Floyd, “the one normal guy Liz ever dated" was sweet, down-to-earth, and good-natured. He was not, however, very funny. Except for that one time Liz accidentally got him drunk on salmon sauce. That was pretty good.
30. Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit)
“Every year, Paula and I rent this big suite up at Niagara, and then she takes the kids there… and I stay home and get wasted in my garage. It's what keeps the magic alive." Pete's married-with-kids ennui is just about the only element of his character that we find consistently satisfying. He usually just seems crushed by his mediocre, midlife malaise, which has often been fertile ground for comedy. But it isn't here.
29. Verna Maroney (Jan Hooks)
Verna is Jenna’s conniving, often-absent stage mother. She only pops back into Jenna’s life when there’s financial gain in the mix — and while we appreciate the humor in the idea of a trashy older woman with a manipulative personality, she's just not that hilarious.
28. Nancy Donovan (Julianne Moore)
Nancy Donovan is the fiery Irish divorcee that Jack shouldn’t have let slip through his fingers. Her Catholic guilt is both funny and endearing: she once panicked and confessed to Jack that, one time, she danced at a bar with a man on the Lord’s Day. And all the while Jack was banging Avery on the side. The accent is pretty great too.
27. Elisa Pedrera (Salma Hayek)
An over-the-top Puerto Rican accent, abundance of Catholic guit, and history of soap-opera-style murder should be all the necessary ingredients for a hilarious character. Unfortunately, pretty much all we remember about Elisa are her boobs.
26. Celeste "C.C." Cunningham (Edie Falco)
This might not be Edie Falco's greatest role, but she's pretty funny. Especially since she spends so much of her early appearances wearing goofy plumber disguises with mustaches and wigs.
25. Carol Burnett (Matt Damon)
Carol is funny, handsome, and for a time, perfect for Liz. He is not, however, gifted in the comedic arts. His biggest achievement is his sliver of a role on the episode when Jack is Reaganing. It might be the best episode ever, thanks in no part to Carol.
24. Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks)
“Look at this dress. Look at the way it goes with my body.” Avery’s character starts out sassy, self-important, and soullessly conservative — all hilarious attributes. But, as her character develops and gets impregnated, she loses a bit of the edge that made her so funny.
23. Danny Baker (Cheyenne Jackson)
Canadians are known for being funny. It's their only export — which is why we had high hopes for Danny. When he first arrives, he attempts to overcome his Canadian accent and then to understand sarcasm and is ultimately semi-successful on both accounts. While definitely not a shining star in the 30 Rock line-up, Danny Baker is a decent addition to the cast. I’ve got my eye on this handsome robot.
22. Milton Greene (Alan Alda)
Jack's biological father, Milton, is best as a liberal foil for Jack's conservatism. And he inspired the totally epic "Kidney Song."
21. Paul Lastname (Will Forte)
As comedy goes, it's not exactly cerebral, but Will Forte in an absurd Jenna costume is pretty undeniably funny.
20. Josh (Lonny Ross)
The funniest thing about Josh is that everyone else forgets he is funny. In fact, they forget he’s even there. There are countless examples of Liz or Pete talking shit on the actors, only to realize that Josh is there, forgotten. That being said, he does a great voice impressions (of both Jack and Tracy), and he seems like a hell of a nice guy.
19. Grizz (Grizzwald Chapman)
Grizz is funniest in his interactions with Liz. She apparently broke his heart during some drunken debauchery at one of Kenneth the page’s parties. He might be ranked higher if that was ever fully explained.
18. Dot Com (Kevin Brown)
Dot Com, the other half of Tracy Jordan’s entourage, is a sensitive, intellectual soul in a hulking bodyguard body. His funniest moments take place when he steps out of his macho character and shows his Chekhov-loving, sensitive self.
17. Bianca (Isabella Rossellini)
Half the fun of Jack Donaghy's impassioned ex-wife Bianca is the sight of Isabella Rossellini — Blue Velvet-starring, trilingual, daughter-of-filmic-royalty Isabella Rossellini — swinging for the comedic fences in classically 30 Rock fashion. ("Damnit, Johnny, you know I luff my Big Beef and Chey-dar!")
16. Angie Jordan (Sherri Shepherd)
Angie Jordan is a woman after our own hearts. She puts up with Tracy’s crazy antics, but doesn’t take his shit. While we love Tracy's shenanigans, Angie is at her best when she's laying down the law for her errant husband. She’s also into some crazy role-playing.
15. Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm)
So handsome. So, so stupid. Played by the undeniably winning John Hamm, this doctor has gone his entire life living inside a “handsome-man bubble.” He can’t play tennis, but rich older women are constantly recruiting him as their tennis coach. But good looks and charm are not comedy. After Liz breaks up with him, Drew loses both his hands in separate accidents (one involving a helicopter, one with some celebratory fireworks). That, on the other, uh, hand, is comedy.
14. Lutz (John Lutz)
Mouthbreather. Though some may disagree, Lutz and his fake, Canadian girlfriend are actually pretty hilarious. His quiet desperation, the one time he claimed his sister-in-law did a “kind of make-over” on him, his inability to ever get laid — all these things are rather charming. Plus, every show needs a nerdy punching bag.
13. Jonathan (Maulik Pancholy)
Jack’s loyal assistant Jonathan has a not-so-secret crush on Mr. Donaghy, resulting in hilarious, misguided interactions. He is constantly pursing Jack’s approval and friendship — asking him to exchange Valentine’s Day gifts and inviting his to his cabaret — and is hilariously crestfallen when his advances are rebuffed. Who could forget the time Jack left G.E. to pursue a career in government, and Jonathan created a poster-board collage as a farewell gift? (And then stood solemnly singing an a cappella version of “I Will Remember You” as Jack walked out the door?)
12. Wesley Snipes (Michael Sheen)
Liz’s settled-for soul mate, Wesley Snipes, is a skinny, white, British boy who doesn’t like to acknowledge the "other" Wesley Snipes. Although he and Liz are a decidedly poor match (his favorite theater snacks include JuJuBes and seltzer water), fate continues to draw them together. Wesley earned his relatively high spot on the list by being annoying enough to still make us laugh — without making us want to change channels.
11. Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander)
Frank Rossitano is so disgusting in so many ways. His “sun tea” experiment (basically, him urinating into mason jars in his office) and his love of the plus-sized janitorial staff immediately come to mind. His ever-changing hat slogans provide some laughs, but his irreverent embracing of his own filthy behaviors is what ultimately won us over.
10. Colleen Donaghy (Elaine Stritch)
Colleen is a tough lady who doesn't take shit. She knows just how to push Jack’s buttons and has an uncanny ability to send him into a doughnut-inhaling stress fit. One of her better taunts: upon seeing Jack’s pregnant girlfriend Avery, she said: “I see you brought the bag… that my bastard grandchild will come in." You funny bitch.
9. Toofer Spurlock (Keith Powell)
Never one to let his Harvard education go unmentioned, Toofer is the butt of many an office joke. His sweater vests and speech affectations stand in direct opposition to Tracy Jordan’s idiotic humor. Toofer is funny because he takes himself so damn seriously. And we all know an Ivy-Leaguer or two with a flair for pretension and condescension.
8. Devon Banks (Will Arnett)
Super-gay Devon Banks is willing to do anything to secure the Presidency of G.E., even bed and wed Don Geiss’ very special daughter, Kathy. Devon’s bachelor party (held on the TGS set) is a memorable and awkward affair — the look on his face as he allows a female stripper to writhe on him will remain in our memories forever.
7. Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters)
Subway hero. Suspected father of Liz’s Sabor de Soledad cheez curls-induced false pregnancy. Pager salesman. Dennis Duffy is all of our terrible relationship decisions rolled into one, cringe-inducing character. Whether he’s being featured on Dateline’s To Catch a Predator or attempting to recreate the “balloon boy “ scenario, we get the opportunity to mock all our idiot ex-boyfriends when we laugh at Dennis.
6. Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski)
It’s easy to make people laugh when you’re a Liz Lemon or a Kenneth Parcell — a character who we're pulling for. But it’s hard to make people laugh when you’re a self-centered, vain, entitled character. Jenna’s tendency towards “backdoor bragging” and jealousy-induced rage strokes make her thoroughly irritating as a person, but her cringe-worthy self-delusion makes her a comedy supernova. (That's right Jenna, we called you a star.)
5. Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer)
While he often serves as a foil to set up other jokes, Kenneth the page’s naiveté and chinlessness spark endless comedy on the show. He might be a little repetitive, sure, but he's also got the highest laughs-to-screentime ratio of anyone out there. And a consistently hilarious, oft-mentioned family back home in Georgia that makes us happy to live up North.
4. Leo Spaceman (Chris Parnell)
Jack Donaghy: Couldn't you just inject something right into his heart?
Dr. Spaceman: I'd love to, but we have no way of knowing where the heart is. See, every human is different.
Dr. Spaceman is a prescriber of questionable medication, a child psychiatrist, a meth addictionologist, and a fertility specialist (though he cannot, personally, help you conceive. Scuba-diving accident.) Leo Spaceman is undeniably the show's best non-credited role. And it's pronounced "SPA-chemen," idiot.
3. Tracy Jordan
As with any truly great comic, sometimes Tracy Jordan's bizarre pronunciation alone is enough to make any phrase funny. If you don’t believe me, try saying, “Our basketball hoop was a ribcage. A ribcage!” and see how many laughs you get.
2. Jack Donaghy
Not naming Jack Donaghy as number one almost tore the Nerve office apart, but in the end, he lost by a hair. Specifically, one of the hairs on a mole on Liz Lemon’s leg that Jack prompted her to have removed. His charm, his chemistry with Liz, his perfect hair alone would make him hard to beat — but it’s his near-regal business-executive demeanor coupled with the sheer absurdity of his lines that really knocks us on our asses. And MILF Island was his idea.
1. Liz Lemon
Liz Lemon is the hard-working, relationship-troubled, junk-food eating character that we've all been waiting to see a woman play. And Tina Fey does it delightfully. Who else could make up so many hilarious songs about food? While Jack Donaghy’s suave, uppity one-offs may provide laughs, it’s Liz Lemon’s bumbling, good-hearted antics that earn her the top spot in this 30 Rock hall of fame. Suck it, nerds!