Were your initial intentions to become a writer or a performer? I think everyone’s intentions are to become a performer at first. But by the time I was in high school and college, I discovered that I liked writing and that I was probably a little better at it. And then when I went to Chicago, and I got to be an improviser and do Second City, that was the best blending of the two, because I was creating my own material and then performing it.
Is there anyone left that you really want to work with? Oh, we’ve been so lucky. I still want Oprah to play my best friend and I don’t know what I need to do to make that happen!
Do you still get that hit when you get a good laugh? Absolutely. My favourite day at 30 Rock is Thursday, when the show airs. At lunch we screen the episodes. For everyone to watch together, to see the stuff we all worked on, to hear the crew laugh – it’s great fun.
Your husband works with you. Does that present any challenges? For 30 Rock, he does all the music and he’s also a producer. I think that we complement each other nicely because we’re not in the same room all day. There’ll be whole days we’ll be at work and not see each other until the ride home. And we’ve been working at the same place for a long time – Second City, then Saturday Night Live.
What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod? ‘Outrageous’ by Britney Spears and Annie – I have the sound track. And it’s in high rotation, yeah. You weren’t actually the first choice to play Jenna, were you? In the pilot, Rachel Dratch was playing Jenna. I was very lucky in the sense that when Tina called me to read, I had already seen the pilot, so I was able to get a taste of the humour they were going for. What’s great is that the role has shifted a lot to cater more to me and what I do. Tina originally wanted someone to be an opposite foil for her, someone who was more actressy, kooky and self-absorbed. Then Tina started working on more of my other talents. Her husband, Jeff Richmond, writes all of the original songs for me. Mystic Pizza: The Musical was a perfect send-up of my world of Broadway.
You’ve had some incredible guest stars this season. Is there anyone you were especially impressed by? I’m amazed just by who is showing up all the time. The people coming on are all fans of the show. If Tina knows there’s someone who might want to be on the show, she comes up with something for them. Oprah coming was probably the big highlight for us. Now I’d like to see if we can get Obama to come on.
Your parents were very active in theatre when you were growing up. Is that how you got the acting bug? My parents were involved in community theatre in New Jersey. Instead of hiring a baby sitter, they would take me with them. So my love of acting seeped in from watching my parents and seeing them having fun. When I was very little, I was in A Christmas Carol, and my mum was Mrs Cratchit. I also was in Gypsy, and my dad was Herbie. Every time there was a part for a kid, they would see if they could sneak me in.
How much of the show is ad-libbed? It’s pretty much scripted. I mean, the writers are so genius and they come up with such hilarious stuff that it’s pretty much scripted. But there seems to always be a little room for play. So if we come up with things, they always want you to try it and throw it on in. And if it makes everyone laugh, then it might get there. Season three of 30 Rock shows every Saturday at 9pm on Showcomedy