30 Rock did a live episode last night. Or actually, they did two live episodes last night. (One for the east coast, one for the west coast.) And it was really great! There were a lot of great jokes and performances and cameos. However, for the purposes of this post, I just want to talk about Fred Armisen. He appeared on the episode three times. And yet, he never spoke a word. Seconds after the theme song, which Jane Krakowski sang, we see Armisen standing behind Liz Lemon with a handlebar mustache. He’s a guy on the crew. He’s just there in the background. The camera didn’t stay on him long. If you blinked, you missed it.
Later in the episode, the bulk of the cast is locked in Tracy’s dressing room so Kenneth can remind them all how great live television is with wacky cutaways, which were actually pretty damn funny. Yet, hang on a second! That’s not Judah Firedlander playing Frank Rossitano. It’s Fred Armisen playing Judah Friedlander playing Frank Rossitano. Here again we see him hiding in plain sight.
But the real show stealer came later in the episode when Jimmy Fallon was playing a young Jack Donaghy answering phones at a telethon. In the background, also answering phones, is Fred Armisen in drag. Go watch this whole scene. It’s great. For the first part, it’s just half of Armisen’s face on camera with one eye making chilling contact. After a moment, he finally just commits to the gag and officially grabs the scene away from Fallon. Or maybe that was the character stealing the scene. I honestly can’t tell with him sometimes. Maybe, he’s not Fred Armisen at all right here. Maybe he’s some forgotten housewife noticing the camera and seizing her moment.
On the one hand, I think Armisen is really funny. But on the other hand, I feel like he almost transcends the genre. This last appearance made me laugh, sure. But, it also made me kind of nervous. I’m thinking his next role should be in a dramatic turn as a bad guy (or girl). Can you imagine him as a psychopathic killer? I sure can.