30 Rock S05E03: "Let's Stay Together"

Synopsis

Jack takes on Congress and ends up having to prove NBC and TGS have diversity. Jenna tries to help Kenneth get his job back.

Episode Details

Episode
S05E03 (503)
First aired
7-Oct-2010
Transcript
View full dialogue
Writer
Jack Burditt
Director
John Riggi
Frank's Hat
I Did It
0:00
Liz
Look at this. [holding up a sign reading F. KRUGER] The writers put it on my door.
Jack
I don’t know what that’s referring to.

Liz: It’s referring to this ONE time that I got a chemical peel before work. And I was wearing a red and green sweater. And a fedora. But these douche-b’s have been doing this for weeks.

Ahhh Freddy Krueger. How you wormed your way into our collective childhood psyches. You even killed Johnny Depp in his first ever movie role in the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. Side note: the sign reads “F. KRUGER”, but it’s actually spelled Krueger, who wore a red and green striped sweater, a fedora, and had a horribly burned face.

So the full list of signs that the writers put on Liz’s door are:

0:24
Jack
Paul Simon.

Liz: I don’t get that, but it hurts. Look, I love a good joke, but I am their boss and at a certain point it crosses a line. To quote Rodney Dangerfield, “Hey.. I.. ” “Hey I uhhh…” Nah.. let’s see.. “Hey I-“

Rodney Dangerfield was a comedian, and “I don’t get no respect” was one of his catchphrases. Liz is doing a piss poor imitation. No, it’s really bad. Especially for an actress. Unless of course Tina Fey the actress was playing a Liz Lemon who was bad at impersonations, in which case it was brilliant.

0:40

Jack: Lemon, if you were about to say that you don’t get any respect, you’re right. I mean, in a post-apocalyptic world, how would society even USE you?

Liz
Travelling bard.
Jack
Radiation canary. I have to run, Lemon, I have an appointment in Washington.

For some reason I like to think about this. I mean, I’m a programmer. What possible use would I be in a post apocalyptic world? Everything I’d ever created (including, chillingly, this website) would be gone. Maybe I could be used for nutrition. Or, like Liz, a radiation canary. They used to carry canaries down into coal mines, and if the canary, a little bird with a delicate constitution, died, they knew the air was becoming too toxic and they should escape before they joined his little yellow feathered fate.

At least Liz could be a travelling bard. She could go from burned out settlement to wasteland encampment, singing songs and telling stories of The World That Was. No one would believe her mad ramblings, of course, but she would travel with The Road Warrior. He would take care of her. Or sell her for her weight in canned dog food.

0:52
Jack
The hearings on the Kabletown-NBC deal are underway, and the company has entrusted me to be their front man.
Liz
Hey, will you ask Congress where they put the USA Network? I’ve been trying to find “Monk” for like three months.

Jack: The only thing I will be discussing with the House Subcommittee on Baseball, Quiz Shows, Terrorism, and Media is vertical integration.

The Kabletown-NBC is an ongoing story on 30 Rock, parodying Comcast’s buyout of NBC, due to be complete by the end of 2010, less than two months from when this episode aired.

USA Network is a sibling of NBC, both being owned by the conglomerate NBC Universal. Monk was a show starring  Tony Shaloub, a private detective with OCD. Monk ran on the USA Network from 2002 to 2009. Its final episode aired on December 4, 2009. Which would explain why Liz can’t seem to find it anymore, as it would have been off the air for almost a year when the episode aired.

1:10
Liz
What’s vertical integration?
Jack
Imagine that your favourite corn chip manufacturer also owned the number one diarrhea medication.
Liz
That’d be great cuz then they could put a little sample of the medication in each bag.
Jack
Keep thinking.
Liz
Except then they might be tempted to make the corn chips GIVE you…
Jack
Vertical integration.
Liz
Wow, that should not be allowed to happen.

Vertical integration. This is a topic for Management and Microeconomics classes, but what the hay. Allow me.

Jack actually does a good job explaining it in this episode. It’s when a single company owns a ton of its own supply chain. Notable examples are American Apparel, who dye, cut, sew, finish, and distribute their own products through their own stores, and shoot their own ads; and Big Oil, who explore, drill, transport, refine, and sell their products. Apple’s strategy of “controlling the whole widget”, their tight control over suppliers and their own retail stores would also qualify.

Liz’s favourite corn chips are “Sabor de Soledad”, which translates to “Flavour of Loneliness”. And they have their own Facebook page. Of course they do. Our yardstick of civilization is weeping.

Also, turns out The Sarah Silverman Program S02E07 (“High, It’s Sarah”) used almost the exact same chips-diarrhea connection.

1:28

Jack: But it’s my job to make sure that it DOES happen. Do you know who gets elected to Congress these days? Former athletes, washed-up actors, and uh… women. I’m locked and loaded and ready for whatever these beltway lobotomites throw at me.

Sweet Jesus. I was going to go through the members of Congress and see which fit this description. Did you know there are 435 members (one representative per district) of the United States Congress? I sure as hell didn’t. Then again, I’m Canadian, so at least I have an excuse.

I did find a few things. The only current actor-congressman is Ben Jones (4th District of Georgia, and played Cooter from The Dukes of Hazzard!), but there are a bunch of other actor-politicians, including Arnold Schwartzenegger (Governator of California), Clint Eastwood (Mayor of Carmel, CA (which is gorgeous, you should go there), Ronald Regan (deceased, former president), Jerry Springer (mayor of Cincinnati, OH), and Jesse “the Body” Ventura (Governor of Minnesota), who, MOTHER OF GOD looks like ass! Check it out: now and then.

Looks like 17% (92 members) of Congress are women.

As for former athletes? Well.. Schwartzenegger and “the Body” Ventura would count. No idea on the others. I’m sick of digging through congress statistics now;)

The “lobotomites” is a made up word which I think should join our lexicon, implying the members of Congress have had lobotomies. Feel like watching one? Horrifying. They used to do this to calm the mentally disturbed. You basically shove something into the front part of someone’s brain and scramble it like an egg. The effects of this are about what you’d expect.

2:05
Pete
Liz, quick question about the Johnny Appleseed sketch. Does it hurt it if we can’t call him Johnny Appleseed.
Liz
Yes! Why?
Pete: Well, Johnny Appleseed was a real guy and his descendants are very litigious, so here are a list of the names that legal says we can use
Jerry Bananaseed. Aaannnd nothing else.

Liz: Great. So what are my choices? Either I argue with legal or I spend all day writing something else? Does anyone care how hard I work?

Pete
Oh! We can’t use Jerry Bananaseed. Someone with that name killed a bunch of nurses in Portland.

Johnny Appleseed (1774-1845) was actually a real man and legend has it he wandered the countryside planting apple trees, which he actually did. But more in nurseries than randomly, and he had something of a business plan, but was very generous. He had two siblings and ten half-siblings, so there are probably a lot of descendants, some of whom may indeed be litigious, and may succeed due to the Right of Publicity, where a person has the right to defend the commercial user of his or her image. But I’m not looking up actual descendants. Aren’t Mormons good at this whole genealogy? I need me a Mormon with some spare time, here.

No Bananaseed nurse killer exists, though there was a Jerry Brudos who killed Portland women in the late sixties, but even this sicko didn’t kill nurses.

2:35
Jenna
Kenneth! You’re back! I need you to get me something called Vagitrex. It’s.. for dry knees.

Thinly veiled reference to Vagsil. For all of your vaginal needs. Funny, this week’s South Park’s episode was Vagisil-centric. That and NASCAR.

3:00
Keyboard Guy
[singing and playing keyboard] Inside Schwartz, Twenty One, Hill Street Blues, Wings is fun, Golden Girls, Quantum Leap, Outsourced is the new Friends!

NBC show references!

  • Wow. Inside Schwartz is obscure. It was a 2001 sitcom that ran for a single season.
  • Twenty One was a famous game show from the 1950’s infamous for its corruption and subsequent senate hearing, and inspired the movie Quiz Show.
  • Hill Street Blues, police drama show from 1981 – 1987.
  • Wings: 1990 – 1997 sitcom.
  • Golden Girls: 1985 – 1992 sitcom.
  • Quantum Leap: 1989 – 1993 sci-fi dramedy/social commentary.
  • Outsourced is a brand new sitcom from NBC, which airs an hour after 30 Rock.
  • Friends was a famous 1994 – 2004 sitcom which was a great success for NBC.

3:25
Jenna: When I was pageantizing, my mother told me there’s only three things standing between you and winning
your breasts, and wanting it back enough.
Kenneth
I’m not sure that applies –
Jenna
[slaps Kenneth] We’ve already started.

Pageanizing is not (yet) a real word. I fear the day it becomes one. Child pageants are just creepy. Let your little girls play with their friends, barbies, tea sets, and whatever else my sister used to do when she was little. Massive pressure and dressing five year olds up in teenage whore makeup is bizarre. Stop it. Just stop it.

Okay I’m done. Resume reading.

So the slap and the “We’ve already started” sounds like it has to be from a movie or something, but I can’t find it. Anyone know where this is from?

3:45

Jack: And this deal will count as a thirty-nine percent bump variable against an eleven percent increase of synchronized flexibility.

Rob Reiner
Sir, my name is Rob Reiner. Before I became a congressman, I… dabbled in television, won a couple of Emmy’s, and I believe that my experience out there in “Hollyweird” gives me a… special insight into these types of deals. Particularly when it comes to —
Jack
[whispers to Jonathan] Say it, Meathead.
Rob Reiner
— vertical integration.

Jack’s business babble is pure business babble.

Rob Reiner indeed won two Emmy’s. For All In The Family, where he played Michael “Meathead” Stivic. All In The Family was a landmark 70s sitcom that addressed a number of then-taboo topics like racism, homosexuality, and women’s lib, starring Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) as a stubborn working-class bigot whose outdated views clash with everyone else around him.

4:08

Jack: Ahhh… the dreaded “V.I.”. Bad for America, kills innovation, drives up prices. Is that it? I guess that’s why Big Oil and Microsoft are such great American failures.

Big Oil typically refers to the six largest non state-owned oil companies, but Jack is probably just referring to the three big American companies, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.

Microsoft is the world’s largest software company. Unless you count Apple as a software company, in which case Microsoft is #2.

In both cases, however, I’d say American Big Oil and Microsoft are stagnating and on their way to becoming failures. Big Oil has terrible PR in general, and the world is convinced they’re destroying the environment, and Microsoft has been stagnant since dominating the PC industry and is currently having its lunch eaten by Apple in mind share and profit.

4:20

Jack: Dare I say vertical integration drives DOWN prices by streamlining the process. Consider the farmer. He owns his land, the equipment he uses to harvest his crops, the truck he uses to drive that product to the farmer’s market where he sells it directly to the consumer. Is that not “vertical integration”? 1:32 pm. Mark the time, ladies and gentlemen, that Congress put a bullet… in the head of the American farmer.

Congress Member
No! You win!
Rob Reiner
The acclaimed director of When Harry Met Sally would never do that!

Jack’s clever speech mimics the type of political maneuvering characterized by choosing some all-American target and twisting the facts until it seems that your opponent is against that target and therefore evil. “How can you vote for a man that wants to tax gasoline? The very gasoline your mom uses to take her home made apple pie to the farmer’s market? This man hates apple pie! And your mom!”

Rob Reiner is indeed the acclaimed director of When Harry Met Sally! Rob Reiner is also talking about Rob Reiner in the third person.

5:09
Kenneth
[singing] Oooohhh everybody born before Jesus is in hell. They went straight to h-

Jenna: Enough! I’m going to have to reinvent you. Break you down completely and build you up from scratch. Just like Mickey Rourke did to me sexually.

Shockingly, opinions are mixed on this topic. But yes, a lot of Christians believe that everyone who hasn’t been baptized or repented their sins before they died is indeed sizzling in hell. On the upside, this isn’t a real song.

There was another Mickey Rourke reference last episode. I still can’t make any real connection. It’s just some odd senseless running joke.

5:38
Regina Bookman
Mr. Donaghy, I represent Rhode Island’s first Congressional District. It’s a diverse community, from the hard working moms and dads of Smithfield, to those spoiled Jags at Brown, to a thriving, flourishing Italian criminal community in Providence. It’s my responsibility to make sure that public airways represent the face of MY public. Now, one question

Rhode Island is a tiny northeastern US state, and its first (of two) Congressional District is actually represented by Patrick J. Kennedy, not Queen Latifa😉 Congressional Districts each elect a single member of congress. It’s not that diverse a community (85.7% white), though it is about 19% Italian, but not a heavy criminal community.

Luckily we have a native Rhode Islander among our readers to explain: “The “jags at Brown” is meant to refer to the Ivy League Brown University, located in Providence, RI. The comment plays to the stereotype that all students at Ivy League universities are spoiled rich kids whose parents buy them everything.”

“The thriving Italian criminal community in Providence refers to Providence’s history as a stronghold of the East Coast Mob – the famed Federal Hill area of Providence used to be a hotbed of Mob activity, and there were rumors that former Providence Mayor, Buddy Cianci, had Mob ties. Ironically, the man who was the Mayor of Providence when the episode aired, David Cicilline, (who is now filling the Congressional seat vacated by Patrick Kennedy) was a graduate of Brown University, and he and his father were highly successful defense attorneys, serving many accused Mob members.” Well done! Thanks, RI Native!

Wilco is an American rock band. From what I can tell, their fans are unrepentantly white.

6:05

Jack: I would point to, um… Sunday Night Football which features many black players and coaches, oh and uh, we have Anthony Anderson, the star of Law and Order, which is entering its twenty first —

Jonathan
[whispers in Jack’s ear]
Jack
[whispering] What? Why did we cancel that? That doesn’t make any sense!

Law & Order was a long running (20 seasons) police drama series, and was cancelled — its last episode aired May 24, 2010. Although it is survived by its children, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Los Angeles, it follows its fourth child, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, to the grave. I can’t find any strong reason it was cancelled, aside from it was on for twenty years and has three spin-offs. Sometimes a parent has to die to make way for its children.

6:21
Regina Bookman
Mr. Donaghy, this may just be about money to you, but a member of Congress and a black woman —
Jack
Uh, I don’t really see color or gender, Mr. Chang.

At first I thought this was a reference to something else, but after an exhaustive search, I’m pretty sure it’s just really funny.

6:30
Regina Bookman
— I feel I have an extra duty, not just to my constituents, but to future generations. Now, unless I see some serious change at NBC and soon, I can guarantee you this deal WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Congress
[mutters]
Rob Reiner
Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, peas and carrots, rhubarb, rhubarb, peas and carrots, rhubarb.

THIS is funny. Kind of an inside writer’s joke. When an audience murmurs in the background, it’s usually unfinished snippets of dialog over and over, saving the writers from having to come up with something for every individual to say, and is sometimes referred to as “rhubarb” or “peas and carrots” because instead of even having snippets of dialog, the audience would just be told to mutter things like that. It should probably never be the focus of attention, though;)

6:55
Jack
Dotcom, you run Tracy’s production company, right?
Dotcom
Yes, Dotcom Productions.
Tracy
That’s Tracy Jordan spelled backwards.
Liz
[shakes her head “no”]

Tracy Jordan spelled backwards is Nadroj Ycart. Barely pronounceable, but does kind of sound like a name George Lucas may have thought up for a the pilot of the shuttle seen in a deleted scene for 1/10th of a second. But I’m sure they made him into an action figure. They did for the noble Willrow Hood and his bold fleeing of Cloud City and saving an innocent ice cream maker. Now you too can buy your very own Willrow Hood Star Wars action figure. Bless you, George Lucas, inventor of capitalism!

7:02
Jack
Well I need programming for the African American community and nobody knows that demographic better than you.
Tracy
Don’t worry about it Jackie D, I’m on it. [to Dotcom] Call Griz, I need someone around who’s not just a yes man.
Dotcom
Whatever you say, Trey. Ohhh! C’mon Walter.

Dotcom’s full name is Walter “Dotcom” Slattery.

7:22

Jack: Representative Regina Bookman is using the Kabletown hearings as a soapbox from which to complain about a lack of diversity on TV.

Liz
Well, she has a point. I was reading the new Malcolm Gladwell New Yorker piece on my Kindle…
Jack
Did you really read that?
Liz
No, I did not.

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker. I assume this joke refers to the fact that everyone likes to say they read the intellectual magazine The New Yorker, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as people claim. Malcom Gladwell wrote an article titled “Small Change” (five pages, related to new media like Twitter), published October 4th, three days before this episode aired. They may have been referring to this article, though that’s mighty close to the air date, but the last article before that was published May 17, 2010.

A Kindle is an e-reader. So reading The New Yorker on a Kindle is about the most trendy, brag-worthy thing Liz could do.

7:35

Jack: I really resent the congresswoman’s accusations. I’ve long been an advocate for diversity. It’s made this nation great. The Chinese built the railroads, the Irish built and then filled the jails…

Liz
A guy named Juan built my armoire.

The Chinese DID build a lot of the railroads, at least the Canadian and Central Pacific railroads. So did the Irish, so I’m not surprised their were also used as labour for jails. As for filling them, that’s related to the stereotype of Irish working as cops. Or maybe thieves;)

7:48
Jack
Diversity means new ideas and new markets, it is our best hope for true innovation.
Liz
Did you tell all of that to congresswoman Bookman?
Jack
No, I was too busy trying to remember the name of the black name on Community.
Liz
Donald Glover.

Community is an NBC comedy TV show, and airs in the time slot just before 30 Rock. I assume Liz’ pronunciation of Donald Glover as “Dah-nahl Glover” is to show her deep knowledge of his African American heritage, using the original Nambian pronunciation.

No, I made that up. Liz is just weird.

8:00
Jack
It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. The whole thing was just political theatre. You should have seen her grandstanding.
Regina Bookman
[flashback] — the future! And America! Now I may have lost my train of thought several minutes ago, but if I continue to talk like this, no one will notice and when I stop, you will applaud my energy! [congress applauds] Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Grandstanding, as marvellously illustrated by Queen Latifa, is overacting in an attempt to play to the political grandstand. I think she based her entire performance on Martin Luther King Junior’s speeches. Don’t get me wrong — he was an amazing individual, and his speeched deserved the gravitas his speech patterns gave them, but used for her babble it’s pretty funny.

8:27
Jack
I can’t let Bookman jeopardize this deal. Tell me about diversity at TGS.
Liz
Well, Lutz claims to be Inuit, at least that was his explanation when I found his poem about snow.

This is based on the myth that the Inuit (native North American arctic aboriginals) have tons of words for snow. They actually don’t. They just use compound words like the Germans. For instance, “is covered in frosty sparkling snow” in Inuit is “patuqutaujuq”. There. I’ve done my civic duty.

Heh. I said “duty.”

8:36
Jack
What about Toofer? Is he any good?
Liz
I don’t know if he’s mentioned this to you a hundred times, but he went to Harvard.
Jack
So we know he’s smart and superb… at masturbation.
Liz
Ha! [high fives Jack]

Toofer would. As explained in S01E02, he’s called Toofer because “he’s a black guy and a Harvard guy.”

And apparently, at Harvard, they’re all rebels. Because masturbation is an honour code violation. Because the pipes can’t handle it. You can’t make this kind of shit up.

8:54

Liz: Oh yeah. Let someone else share the total lack of respect, deal with the meetings, the complaining, the stupid Johnny Appleseed sketch.

Jack
Whoa. You are not dong a sketch on the Appleseed family. Monty Appleseed and I share a liquor locker at the opera.

Liquor lockers at the opera?? I like to imagine there is such a thing, but I can neither confirm nor deny this.

9:21
Jenna
[to Kenneth] There you are. I’ve got hair extensions for you. And a body shaper with a reinforced penile sleeve.

Hair extensions are an adding of artificial hair into someone’s natural hair, and are glued or woven/sewn in. I don’t think this is usually done on someone with hair as short as Kenneth’s.

Body shapers?? For Kenneth? He’s already built like a pretty girl. Anyway, body shapers are modern equivalent of girdles. Like Spanx.

And penile sleeves? Ahhh, the joys I get out of researching weird 30 Rock shit… In my extensive research, apparently these are for the pleasure of women, for men, or for two men. I’m going to carefully link to this now, but I encourage you to NOT open it. NSFW: Sex Toy – Penile Sleeve.

9:27
Kenneth
Miss Maroney, please. My feet are killing me.

Jenna: I am trying to help you, Kenneth. Believe me, I wish you weren’t such a Houston foreclosure of a human being, but I need to tear you down and turn you into someone who can actually win this thing.

Yup, looks like foreclosures in Texas are up this month. Topical, 30 Rock, TOPICAL!

9:43

Kenneth: [watches keyboard guy throwing colored paper in the white recycling bin] They hired keyboard guy? He’s not even recycling properly! Miss Maroney, wait!

And just above the two recycling bins are two signs: “Colored” and “White”. Gee, in a racial diversity-based episode, I don’t see how this could go wrong.

10:10

Dotcom: Well, here’s something I’ve been working on. It’s called Let’s Stay Together, after the Al Green song. It focuses on an African American family in Detroit in the seventies. Motown, the auto industry, Vietnam, Watergate. Let’s Stay Together’s not just about family trying to stay together, but also a nation.

Griz
What if there was a talking dog?
Tracy
I’d like to see that incorporated into your rewrite. Okay, meeting over.

Al Green is a gospel and soul singer, and Let’s Stay Together was his biggest hit.

10:35

Kenneth: [at interview, singing and dancing for Jeffrey Winerslav] Thank you NBC for all the laughs and tears. Once home to Kelsey Grammer, The Golden Girls, My Name Is Earl, The A-Team, and Cheers, so shine on, and thank you NBC! A top ten network!

Kelsey Grammer most famously appeared on Cheers (mentioned at the end of the list), and its spin off Frasier. Ahhh I’ll just link to them all. They’re all NBC shows:) The Golden Girls, My Name is Earl, the A-Team.

And at the end of his amazing performance, Kenneth rips open his beautiful blue-sequened jacket to reveal the NBC logo across his chest.

11:10
Liz
[looks at sign on her door that reads “El Tejón”]
Frank
It means “The Badger” in Spanish. I’m not sure who did it.
Liz
[looks at Franks hat that reads “I Did It”.]

It definitely means “The Badger”.

The first reference to Liz’s badger face was in S01E10 “The Rural Juror,” when Jack says “ I’ve never seen her so worked up. She came at me with that angry little badger face of hers. there it is right now.” “El Tejón” is a new twist, though;)

11:42
Jack
How’s production going, Trey?
Tracy
Good. And there’s a lot of buzz. Do you hear it too, or is my tinnitus acting up?

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears. It’s just not a very funny joke. 30 Rock, I expect better from you!

11:50
Tracy
[to Lutz] Hey! That food is for Dotcom Productions only! TGS’s food is backstage!
Lutz
But they don’t have women’s sports bars. Men can have cramping too, you know!

Ha! As far as I can tell there are no women-specific sports bars designed to curb cramping. There are women-specific sports bars, though. Like Luna. Apparently Lutz is a woman. I’m sorry if I ruined this for you.

12:04
Regina Bookman
Mr. Donaghy I’m in New York right now. Some colleagues of mine and I are taking meeting on Wall Street and then we’re doing the Sex and the City walking tour.
Rob Reiner
Magnolia Bakery!? Oh, sorry hips.

Wall Street is the financial district in Manhattan.

Sex and the City was an HBO Manhattan-based dramedy, and there are a number of walking tours.

And the Magnolia Bakery, on Bleeker Street in Manhattan, was made famous by appearing in Sex and the City. It is delicious, but not as much as the hype would suggest. Though binging until your thighs rub together would be worth it.

12:15
Regina Bookman
But it looks like I’ll have time to stop by and continue our conversation.

Jack: Good, I welcome it. As I was trying to say the other day, this company has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusiveness —

Tracy
Yo Jackie D. I had dinner with Don Imus last night. He told the following joke —
Jack
Goodbye, Congresswoman.

Don Imus is a radio shock jock, contemporary and rival of Howard Stern, and involved in a scandal related to racist remarks on the air.

12:33
Kenneth
I can’t believe they rejected me.

Jenna: Well of course they did. The bridge was supposed to be shuffe ball change, Maxi Ford, Cincinnati, Cincinnati, double time, Shim Sham Shimmy, Toe Punch! I don’t know what you were doing.

Dance steps! Jenna’s babbling on about dance steps. New to me, but here’s a dictionary of them if you’re interested. And here’s the Shim Sham Shimmy step.

12:46
Kenneth
I’m sorry Miss Maroney.

Jenna: And where was your sparkle? You embarrassed me in front of all the other mothers. If you think you’re going to Sizzler tonight, Jenna, you’ve got another thing coming. Oh, you’ll be practicing your steps in the garage until the school boat comes! If I hadn’t seen you come out of me in that parking lot I’d swear you weren’t my daughter!

Sizzler’s a chain of steak houses. Quite the carrot!

Jenna described in an earlier episode (can’t find it now) how she used to take a boat to school.

And Jenna is doing a pretty good impersonation of her mother;)

13:10
Jenna
Let me get there! I’ve turned into my mother. And I turned you.. into me! You’re welcome, but it was wrong.
Kenneth
Well, to make it up to —

Jenna: LET ME GET THERE! To make it up to you, I am going to get your job back or my name isn’t Ystrepa Grokovitz! I.. I mean J- Jenna Maroney!

Jenna’s real name was first mentioned in S03E13 “Goodbye, My Friend”. Sounds Yugoslavian.

13:33
Rutherford Rice
Welcome to Right On. I’m your host, Rutherford Rice. With me is my co-host Shirley Thomas. Our topic for today is African Americans and their roles in the media. Our first guest is James Spurlock, Head Writer for TGS with Tracy Jordan.
Toofer
Good day, Tri-Stater’s.

I bet Right On is based on some pre-existing show, but I wouldn’t know what it is. Anyone?

The Tri-States, when talking about the New York area, are New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

14:34
Rutherford Rice
James, when people think of TGS, they think of Tracy Jordan, Jenna Maroney, the mysterious crew death, the Angela Lansbury lawsuit. What they don’t think of is you, working long hours late into the night, giving up any semblance of a life. Well, James Spurlock, you can finally take your bow. You… are Right On’s Arthur Ashe of the week.

Liz once before referred to the crew death, from S03E17 “The Pelican Grief”: “Okay, guys, I just want to say congratulations on our 50th show — 50 hours of comedy, over 300 sketches, one unsolved crew death, and an Emmy… magazine cover story!”

Angela Lansbury lawsuit?? This is just random and hilarious. There’s no reference I can find to Angela Lansbury ever suing anyone. Man I hope they revisit this one, especially because of how incongruous this is with the sweet-as-pie actress Angela Lansbury.

Arthur Ashe was a professional African American tennis player and known for his efforts to further social causes.

14:58

Liz: Okay. You know what, I get it, I shouldn’t be here. I should have realized that when I saw that masks and the picture of black Jesus.

Rutherford Rice
That’s me in college.

Liz: Allrighty. All right I said I was leaving, you don’t have to have your boss come and — It’s a security guard. That’s not great.

Black Jesus! Funny;) Races all across the world tend to depict Jesus as one of their own race. Not surprising, seeing as it’s easier to consider someone your saviour if they look like you, and if I was a church, I’d slyly encourage this. All of it’s kind of stupid though. Jesus was a Galilean Jew, so he would have looked much like a modern Semetic Jew (olive skin, dark curly hair).

And Liz makes a massive racial faux pax by assuming the first white man she sees on set is their boss.

15:15
Jack
Jonathan, what did we talk about?
Jonathan
But sir, I was born in Palo Alto.
Jonathan
[Indian accent] I will go get her, sir. A thousand apologies!

Palo Alto is in California and home to quite a number of computer companies, and is mostly white and Asian. But Jonathan does a fine Indian accent when pressed.

15:37

Jack: Representative Bookman, welcome to NBC. This is the perfect place to begin our tour. Studio 6H, home to one of NBC’s biggest stars, Tracy Jordan.

In S01E02 I wrote up the history of Studio 6H.

15:46
Regina Bookman
Mr. Jordan. Regina Bookman. We met at the Congressional Black Caucus Fundraiser you crashed your motorcycle into.

The Congressional Black Caucus is a real thing, open only to black members of Congress and currently has a membershop of 43. And they’re very good at raising money. But no one’s ever crashed a motorcycle into one.

15:52

Tracy: And thank you, Representative. What you’re doing is very important. I can assure you that NBC is committed to making diversity our priority. Then just way away and don’t try to kiss her, Tracy, and don’t say that last part. [winks at Jack]

If anyone asks me to explain this I will kill them. A lot.

I love writing this stuff up but I almost hope the writers of 30 Rock never look at it. There’s nothing more painful than someone explaining one of your jokes. Maybe I’ll just choose a certain cut-off level of obviousness above which I can live with myself;)

16:10
Lutz
[to Tracy as he takes a donut] Hey! You eat from your own table, remember? Our food is separate. Separate!
Tracy
I’ll kill you, white devil!
Lutz
[shrieks and runs away]
Jack
Uhhh… Let’s just head this way.
Jack
[looks at bathrooms with Colored and White signs next to them] So how was your flight?

Ahhh here they are! All the apartheid jokes in one place. The US’s historical ownership of slaves and the South’s loss to the North in the Civil War and subsequent freeing of their slaves still left a lot of the oppression intact. Jim Crow Laws were enforced, creating separate facilities (sections of the bus, eateries, drinking fountains, washrooms, etc). And to identify said separate facilities, they would hang signs reading “White” and “Coloured”.

White Devil is a racial slur meaning “white man” usually used by non-white people.

16:34

Jack: Ah, Congresswoman this is Jeffrey Winerslav. He heads our Diversity in Hiring initiative. What’s the latest from HR, Jeffrey?

Jeffrey Winerslav
Well, I’d like to tell you that we filled the minority slot in the NBC Page Program with a native American fellow named Wants to Get Sandwiches, but you made me hire THAT guy instead. [points to Kenneth]

Native names are funny;)

16:56
Regina Bookman
You call that a diversity hire?

Jack: Uh, maybe. That young man is a hillbilly with a girl’s middle name, and because his county never re-joined the Union, a foreigner.

Hillbillies are dumb redneck mountain folk. Oh it’s derogatory, by the way. In case my definition didn’t give that away. Made particularly famous by Deliverance.

I’m pretty sure counties didn’t individually join the Union. I think they did it by state. So.. still funny;)

17:12

Jack: There’s James! Attention everyone! I present you, James Spurlock, with the 2010 Tavis Smiley Excellence in Broadcasting away. Thank you for making us all.. smiley! [applause]

Tavis Smiley is an African American talk show host, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. He does have a foundation, but no awards as far as I can tell.

17:59
Regina Bookman
After what I just saw, you may be the only person here I respect.
Liz
[sighs]
Regina Bookman
You get an “I Met A Congresswoman” sticker.
Liz
Thank you! Finally, that’s all I wanted was for —
Regina Bookman
This country was founded on certain principals! Freedom! Troops! America! Flag! Now I might not know where I’m going with this, but I know we will get there together! [applause] WHO.. LOVES.. PIZZA?! [applause]

Ahhh! No such stickers out there. So sad.

This last bit is a good trick. Want some applause? Some cheering!? Who likes food?? Who loves CHILDREN? WHO LIKES MONEY?! MONEY, PEOPLE!

Gets ‘em every time.

18:52

Jack: [closes door on tap-dancing Jenna] What was I supposed to do? This is a multi-billion dollar deal. There are thousands of jobs at stake. Hundreds of second homes. And your ridiculous grandstanding could ruin the whole thing, like luffing your spinnaker at a yachting regatta. I know I’m not helping myself…

“Luffing” your sail is a mistake in sailing; when you don’t have your sail at the correct angle and the front edge ripples in the wind, a spinnaker is a large bilious sail on the front of a sailboat, and a regatta is a boat race (or series of races). All very hoity toity and upper-crust, what what?

19:06
Regina Bookman
Sorry, grandstanding? Do you not think I believe in this?
Jack
It’s just political theatre. You’re up for re-election.
Regina Bookman
Yes. Maybe I get carried away sometimes with my love for… this great country and the troops! And the flag troops!
Jack
You’re doing it!

Flag troops?? She’s not even making sense anymore. She’s just throwing together random Americana. Freedom Fries! Apple Pie Constitution! LIBERTY HANDGUNS!!

19:22
Regina Bookman
And I apologize. But I only talk this way so I can get people to listen. I care about these issues.

Jack: And so do I. If you just give me a chance instead of ambushing me in front of the Congress and my own employees! You think I don’t take diversity seriously? Only a fool doesn’t. Diversity is the engine that drives this country. We are an immigrant nation! The first generation works their fingers to the bone making things, the next generation goes to college and innovates new ideas, the third generation… snowboards and takes improv classes. We always need people who are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. I did it. And it’s my job to help others do it, too.

Ooo! Chillingly accurate.

20:12
Tracy
[bursts in] I’m cutting that fat cracker’s head off!
Lutz
I’m part Eskimo! Hate crime!
Tracy
[screams, chasing Lutz]
Lutz
Were were here first!
Tracy
[screams, chasing Lutz]

Hate crime = crime where the motive is.. hate. Of someone. Usually due to race or religion or something. Poor choice, hate crimers!

The “we were here first” refers to the Inuit being aboriginal North Americans, and here before the first “settlers” arrived.

20:39
John Amos
They closed the plant. I gave those people thirty years, I didn’t even get a watch. All I got was this pink slip.
Stanley the Dog
You think you got it hard? I’ve got dates tonight.
John Amos
Stanley, even for a dog, you are a DOG.

Dog being a guy who sleeps with a lot of women. Kind of a male slut.

John Amos is the main character of this “Let’s Stay Together” show, is an actor and former football player, and was nominated for an NAACP award. I don’t know if he was chosen for this role for any particular reason aside from he looks damn good doing it.

21:03
John Amos
[answers the door and sees two poodles] Heh heh heh heh.
Stanley the Dog
Uh oh! Ain’t life a bitch? [winks]

This entire “Let’s Stay Together” show-within-a-show feels incredibly familiar, but I’m not sure why. Maybe the writers just channeled every nugget of 70s and 80s nostalgia and distilled it into 60 seconds of pure retro. Nice work, anyway. Even the “ain’t life a bitch” feels like it’s someone’s catch phrase, but I can’t figure out where it’s from.

The show ends with a “Dotcom Productions” logo. And if you look closely, the shadow behind it reads “Tracy Jordan”;) I love these guys.

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30 Responses to 30 Rock S05E03: "Let's Stay Together"

  1. Kilu's says:

    THANK YOU so much for these funny explanations. We love 30 Rock but don't get every joke since we're not Americans and not native English speakers.
    We gave the address to other fans we know who also appreciate your work.
    Thank you again.

    • WtwAdmin says:

      So happy to hear it! *I* didn't get every joke either, and I'm told I'm a native English speaker. That's why I created the site in the first place. It's great to know people are enjoying the site. And thanks for passing on the link! I appreciate it.

  2. Michele says:

    What is the joke about curley-haired men who need glasses?

    • WtwAdmin says:

      That was from this week's episode, right? Aired Dec 2 – S05E09 "Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish." I haven't written that one up yet, but I imagine it's a stereotype around sensitive Jewish men.

  3. RI native says:

    The whole RI speech Queen Latifah's character (Regina Bookman) gave was full of insider RI jokes – I wonder if there is a RI writer on the show this season? As a native RI'er, let me explain:

    The "jags at Brown" is meant to refer to the Ivy League Brown University, located in Providence, RI. The comment plays to the stereotype that all students at Ivy League universities are spoiled rich kids whose parents buy them everything. The thriving Italian criminal community in Providence refers to Providence's history as a stronghold of the East Coast Mob – the famed Federal Hill area of Providence used to be a hotbed of Mob activity, and there were rumors that former Providence Mayor, Buddy Cianci, had Mob ties. Ironically, the man who was the Mayor of Providence when the episode aired, David Cicilline, (who is now filling the Congressional seat vacated by Patrick Kennedy) was a graduate of Brown University, and he and his father were highly successful defense attorneys, serving many accused Mob members.

    Definitely funnier if you're from lil Rhody.

    • WtwAdmin says:

      YOU are all kinds of awesome. Thank you. I knew there was something there and I was missing it. It's Rhode Island-specific enough and basically un-googleable unless you know what you're looking for in the first place.

      If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm basically just googling crap for everyone and posting it here so they don't have to google it themselves;)

  4. RI native says:

    Happy to help – that one was super RI insider.

    Great site here – there are def. some 30 Rock references that escape me – nice service to provide!

    • Cam says:

      Glad you like! I've added your info into the trivia. I just put it in there directly because I couldn't word it any better myself. Thanks again!

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  16. MELLE says:

    OK, well I wanted to look up Regina Bookman's speech so I can make my new-mom friend laugh! (Poor gal, she has no time for TV…) So I've just discovered this site!!

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  17. AlanD says:

    I think the line 'That's Tracy Jordan spelled backwards' is a reference to Oprah Winfrey, whose production company is called 'Harpo' (Oprah backwards).

  18. Jacob says:

    I believe “Right On” is a parody of the long running black news talk show “Like It Is” that ran for several decades in the New York City tri-state area until around 2012 after the death of host Gil Noble.

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