A Chat with Judah Friedlander

The 30 Rock star and champion at everything he tries, is teaming with MiO Energy to launch a new energy drink.

Judah Friedlander, 30 Rock star and champion at everything he tries, is teaming with MiO Energy to launch a new energy drink. Naturally, we used the occasion to have an in-depth conversation about the merits of Starship Troopers.

Photo Courtesy of: Todd Plitt / Comedy Central | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

So what are you doing with these Mio guys?

I’m just trying to save the world one beverage at a time. Mio Energy is the drink. It’s portable. It’s got energy in it. And this country needs energy.

So do you think people should drink this instead of water?

Sometimes you need an extra boost.

How many is the most of these you think you could drink in one day if somebody made you?

I think you’re only supposed to drink a certain amount. You don’t really need that much. One container of Mio Energy is basically 12 servings. It’s like 12 cups of coffee. I don’t need 12 cups of coffee in one day. That’s your choice, but I don’t think that’s recommended.

Who’s the most famous person in your cell phone?

That’s a good question. Lets say professional wrestler Mick Foley.

Do you sometimes get mistaken for Mick Foley?

No, but that would be cool. He’s a little bit bigger than me. Normally I’m 7’ 5”, but I usually slide down to 5’ 10” so I don’t intimidate people.

Have you ever gone to Benihana with Tracy Morgan?

No I haven’t. Although we filmed a scene at a Benihana for 30 Rock earlier this year. I hear many Tracy Morgan Benihana stories. That’s his go-to joint.

Do you have a hat intern?

No I don’t. I could use one though.

Have you ever considered flipping your hat backwards?

Once in awhile. Only when I’m arm wrestling.

Or when you’re turning your chair around and about to tell high-schoolers about drugs.

Yeah, you gotta stay safe on the streets and be smart.

Rock, paper, scissors. Which do you go for?

I’m gonna go with machete. But of those three, I’m gonna go with paper. It’s unpredictable, and most people don’t see it coming. And sometimes your best strategy in a fight is not necessarily the most obvious choice. You want to keep people guessing, and paper is a more deceptive tool, and you can do more uses with it. I can actually fold paper so its very sharp and works as well as scissors. I can cut scissors with paper.

I would like to see this happen.

Yeah, hang out with me dude.

Lets do it! Anytime you want to come by the Maxim offices.

I’m ready!

Do you identify more with Pac-man or the ghosts?

That might be the best question I’ve ever been asked. I’m going to think about it for a second. Hold on, I’m getting close. Okay: Pac-man is a more textured, layered, character than the ghosts. The ghosts do have their different personalities. Like, Pokey is certainly the least harmful and he’s the ghost who goes after Pac-Man cause the other guys do, not cause he really wants to, and he’s not smart enough to think about what he really wants in life. Pac-man has a lot of issues. He’s always thinking about the women, he’s always hungry, he’s always fantasizing about the family. He’s got a lot of important issues that he’s dealing with. He’s not so simple like the ghosts, or one-track minded.

And you’re a complex human being as well, so I can understand.

Yes I am. But the difference between me and Pac-man is that I don’t run. I don’t run from a fight. And Pac-man does. That’s the big difference.

Do you have an NCAA bracket going on?

No, I played varsity basketball for 17 years and I’m banned from gambling.

What’s your favorite science fiction movie?

Starship Troopers. Let me tell you something.  Starship Troopers I have seen more times than any other movie in the last 15 years. I think it’s extremely underrated. I’ve seen that movie more times than any other movie since the first Star Wars in ’77. I’m not saying it’s better than Star Wars, but I’m saying it might be. I think it’s the most realistic war film ever made. The movie’s ultimately about fascism. It’s about war, and depending on whose perspective you’re looking at: who is right and who is wrong? The humans are kinda the bad guys in that movie if you really think about it. The bugs were just living out there, and it was the humans were trying to colonize their planet. So naturally they thought back?

Photo Courtesy of: Todd Plitt / Comedy Central | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Wait, so the humans struck first? If I recall right, the bugs struck first?

No. No! The bugs struck because, I believe in the movie it said Mormons were colonizing part of their planet, so the bugs were hurling stuff into space and attacking. It was human colonization that caused the bugs to attack.

Weren’t there some awful direct-to-DVD sequels too?

The second one I didn’t even get through. I didn’t like. It didn’t have Casper Van Dien in it, and I’m sorry, but Starship Troopers does not exist without Johnny Rico. In Starship Troopers 3, Casper Van Dien is back! It was very low budget. Effects-wise it does not hold up to the original, but the movie is good and it’s very funny.

Starship Troopers was also sort of the beginning of the rebirth of Neal Patrick Harris, wasn’t it?

It really was! That was his first big project in a long time. I met Neal Patrick Harris once and I just kept quoting Starship Troopers to him. I put my hand on him and said: “It’s afraid. Rarrrr!” I love that.

Anything else you been working on?

I’m working on a stand-up album that’s coming out later this year. And I have a stand-up concert movie that I’m working on. I’ve been doing stand-up since ’89, and I should have seven albums out by now, but I’m not the most organized guy. So I’m gonna get my shit together and get it out there.

You know, I didn’t realize this until recently, since you don’t look anything like the character anymore, but you played Toby, the nerd in American Splendor.

One of these days I’ll get my film career back on track. It’s hard though, since 30 Rock takes up a lot of time The real Toby, I still keep in touch with him. We did some short videos together that I’m going to be putting up on my YouTube page later this summer.

Judah Friedlander can be seen on NBC’s 30 Rock. He has a new stand-up album scheduled to come out later this year.