Judah Friedlander: Winner take all 

"30 Rock" star headlines The Punchline

He skis uphill at, oh, around 95 mph. ("Skiing downhill is for pussies.") He bowls an average of about 300. ("Sometimes I do better than that shit.") He can kill you in soccer. ("I play for Man United, dude.")

"I'm the greatest athlete in the world," he says by phone from his home in New York City, "and probably have the most testosterone of any man alive. Chicks really dig me, and guys fear me and want to be me at the same time. It's pretty cool."

Judah Friedlander is the World Champion and proclaims as much everywhere he goes. It makes you wonder how such a doughy, mutton-chopped, glasses-wearing dude could be so good at everything he does.

What he's most accomplished at, however, is making people laugh. His movie and TV appearances can be fleeting, including his role as sketch-comedy writer Frank Rossitano on the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom "30 Rock." When he's on camera, it's almost impossible to miss him, partly because he tops his bushy brown hair with a different trucker hat every time. The hats' ironic and often nonsensical inscriptions ("SLOW-BOT" on a recent "30 Rock" episode) can be as funny as his spoken lines.

"They're all different," he explains. "Some are fancy, some are simple. In my stand-up act, it'll say 'World Champion' in some language. I figured in '30 Rock,' playing a comedy writer, it would be funny to have a different hat for each day. Tina [Fey, the executive producer/star/lead writer] was totally cool with it."

Friedlander's routine drips with deadpan irony. His unself-conscious slacker is so unimpressed with everyone else's image of him that he figures self-promoting hyperbole makes sense in a world drowning in it. His comedy can carry a brilliantly defiant tone, and audiences generally love it.

"Some crowds are completely out of control and you can't shut them up," he says. "And others are so scared shitless, they won't say a fucking word."

Nothing a World Champion can't handle.


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