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Illustration: Rob Kelly

The Hot Seat: Jack McBrayer

Just don't ask him for the frequency.


Fortunately for fans of 30 Rock and the show's gullible assistant, Kenneth, the economic downturn hasn't unduly affected the NBC page community. Jack McBrayer, 35, plays Kenneth on the show, and doesn't foresee getting the ax anytime soon. And why should he? Tina Fey's lovable cast of misfits continues to reap critical kudos behind the disparate, brilliant comic chops of Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, McBrayer & Co., and the show was recently picked up for another season. And while the simple-hearted Kenneth may never get promoted at work, the Conyers, Georgia, native who portrays him is going places.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews

Time Out New York: I can already feel your Southern, folksy charm working on me. I had all of these hard-hitting questions planned, but now I just want to be cordial and accommodating.
Jack McBrayer: You would've been disappointed anyway. was your day?
Uh, today was all right. Only had to leave the house once. Not abig fan of cold weather. So I love New York!

You're not even really Southern, are you?
Not even a little bit.

You once said that both you and syphilis were the pride of Conyers. After this successful season of 30 Rock, have you finally passed that dread disease, at least in terms of fame?
Well, I still think that Conyers has more people watching the syphilis count than they do 30 Rock. I mean, it was a stone-cold epidemic.

It is indeed the silent killer. Does Baldwin ever try to corrupt your Southern family values with his martial liberal outlook?
Oh, gosh no. I think he knows it's a lost cause on me. He's like, I would have more luck talking to a ficus.

So, what's your favorite scene in Deliverance?
[Laughs] How about the peaceful dinner scene? We'll keep it clean.

How is Tina Fey as a boss?
She's kind of perfect. She's the boss I absolutely want to have, and I say that with all sincerity.

And not because she's going to beat you with a studded belt if you tell us the heinous truth?
No. [In whisper] But you're on speakerphone and she's right here.

I wish we had set up code words before the interview. How much of Tracy Morgan's stuff on the show is improvised?
Well, it's not exactly improvised right there. However, the writers do literally write down his conversations and what is going on with his life, and you will see it on TV.

And he's cool with that?
Oh yeah, I think he loves it. He is crazy as anybody, but he is the biggest sweetheart. Tracy is like a 14-year-old with a kajillion dollars. He got us all invited to my friend P. Diddy's birthday party in December.

You went to P. Diddy's birthday party?
I went to P. Diddy's birthday party.

Were there diamond-encrusted party favors?
There was diamond-encrusted everything. I think I drank diamonds out of my champagne glass. It was nuts.

Who else was there?
Oh, a lot of people. Mary J. Blige, and Jay-Z, and Doug E. Fresh and Common... And Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer!

Did the two of you just hang out awkwardly in the corner?
No. They had a VIP table set up for us, all roped off.

Surely you jest.
I swear to God. It was me, and, like, three other white people there. It was the most surreal thing that had ever happened to me. And this photographer was going around, just getting famous people and saying, "Get together, get together!" So you'll see random pictures of me, Cedric the Entertainer, Rebecca Gayheart the Noxzema girl and P. Diddy [Cracks up laughing].

You've really arrived.
You know, I think I'm done here. I've done all the things I need to accomplish on this earth. If you hear a gunshot, then this interview is over.

30 Rock airs Thursdays at 9:30pm.

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