Comedian and actor Judah Friedlander will be performing stand-up comedy at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Friday, August 5. The self-dubbed “World Champion” has a unique act that combines political satire and improvised jokes with help from the audience. Friedlander was an established comic before achieving success as an actor. Besides his standup act, he is most famous for his role as Frank Rossitano in the NBC comedy 30 Rock. He currently lives in New York where he does comedy shows nightly, mostly at the Comedy Cellar.
How did you transition from being a comedian to becoming an actor?
After eight or nine years of doing standup, I started doing TV commercials. I did a ton of commercials in the late ’90s and then I started getting some TV and movie acting spots. Meet the Parents was the first role I did in a movie that actually got released. But even as I got more and more movie roles, I still did standup.
What was it like to work on the set of 30 Rock?
There was a lot of talented writers and actors on that show. There was a lot of good comedic minds there, and it was great to work with them and work for them. That was my first regular role on a TV series, which is a little different [than cameos]. You’re playing the same character for so long, so you have to try to find new ways to keep it refreshing for the audience.
What can the audience at Guild Hall expect from your show?
My act is very joke heavy and very interactive with the audience. Most of the current stuff I’m doing in my act is satirizing U.S. domestic and foreign policy, as well as American exceptionalism. I also run my show as a mock town hall. I often ask the audience questions for my presidential campaign, because I’m still thinking of jumping in.
What’s the story behind your signature hats that you wear on stage?
I’ve been making my own hats for about 20 years, and my appearance on stage just grew out of that. When I do standup, the hats always say World Champion in some language. The hats that I wear on stage have jokes and storylines behind them, so it adds to the act.
Do you think comedy should be exempt from political correctness?
It’s a big subject that has many different factions to it. There are people who over-police language. But there are also bigots who say tons of bigoted things and harass people and they’ll say ‘Oh it’s not a problem at all, it’s just free speech.’ You have to look at each situation individually, there’s no general answer for it. I’m all for free speech, but when people do bigoted things and then say ‘it’s not bigoted it’s just free speech,’ they’re being dishonest. So it’s a mixed bag.
After your performance at Guild Hall, what do you have planned?
My book If the Raindrops United is out now. It’s a book of drawings and cartoons that I did. A lot of them are funny and are satirical social commentary.
I’m also working on a new album and standup special that will be out in September called America is the Greatest Country in the United States.
Catch The World Champion, Judah Friedlander’s one-of-a-kind act, at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Friday, August 5 at 9:30 p.m. For ticket and event information visit guildhall.org.