30 Rock returns this week with a brand new reunion special, and if you’re lucky you’ll actually be able to watch it when it premieres on NBC on Thursday. A major reason Tina Fey’s live-action cartoon has remained popular over a decade after it debuted is because of its crack cast and the characters that they play. Around these parts, one particular favorite is Kenneth Parcell, the naive but hard-working NBC page who has unending faith in TV and is also probably immortal. Kenneth, who hails from Stone Mountain, Ga., could’ve wound up as a condescending, bad faith mockery of Southerners; as played by Jack McBrayer, a real-life Georgian, he actually comes off as a sweet, lovable, completely insane fool. (Remind us to tell you sometime about how 30 Rock ruined one of its own best running jokes, when, after years of having Kenneth mention Stone Mountain, which in real life is a predominantly Black middle-class suburb of Atlanta, it finally has an episode set there and depicts it as the absurd backwoods redneck hellhole Kenneth always made it sound like. It would’ve been much funnier if he came from the anonymous strip mall suburb that Stone Mountain is closer to in reality.)
From ridiculous one-liners and asides, to a cryptic backstory that was built slowly over the entire length of the series, Kenneth might be the single funniest character on 30 Rock. As proof, here’s a collection of some of his funniest quotes and moments.
On the Stone Mountain school system
It’s funny; in school, all you learn about Abraham Lincoln is that he was a gay alcoholic!
On work ethic
Kenneth:Sir, I have a problem with my time card.
Jack: So naturally, you came to me because this company is just the two of us.
Kenneth: I received a memo saying that pages are no longer allowed to work more than 16 hours a day.
Jack: Uh, yes, Kenneth. Thanks to Comrade Obama’s recession, we’ve had to cut overtime for pages.
Kenneth: Oh, It’s not the money, sir. It’s just that I always work more than 16 hours, so I would be signing my name to a lie. The Parcell name is synonymous with honesty. As the Hill People say, ‘’Parcell gaw say del go up de saw say.’‘
Tracy:What’s up, Special K? Having a party?
Kenneth: Not me, sir. Tonight is the Verdukian Holiday of Mouth Pleasures. Misters Rossitano, Spurlock and Lutz must have free sausage pizza followed by some gentle flossing performed by a blond virgin.
Tracy: Your generosity is being taken advantage of.
Kenneth: What do you mean?
Tracy: Verdukianism. It’s fake. Those dudes made it up because they didn’t want to do Secret Santa.
Kenneth: But they had all these rules and rituals.
Tracy: That’s what religion is, K-Fed. Just a bunch of made-up rules to manipulate people. Why don’t Catholics eat meat on Fridays? I’ll tell you why. Because the Pope owns Long John Silvers.
Kenneth: Wait a minute. Are you saying that other religions are made up by man too?
Tracy: Uh-oh, Ken. We may have fallen into the intellectual deep end here. And if you try to grab onto me, we’ll both drown.
Kenneth: What if there is no God?
Tracy: Okay, time to go.
On the Apocalypse and the Afterlife
Kenneth: Good morning Mr. Rossitano. I’m sorry you’re going to Hell.
Frank: Eh, it’s ok. How was your break?
Kenneth: Wonderful! Reverend Gary did the math and guess what? The world is ending tomorrow!
Liz: And you’re happy about that?
Kenneth: Oh, of course! I get to go to Heaven and receive my reward: 72 virgin margaritas—hold the salt! Oh! I’m sorry I won’t be seeing you in Heaven Mr. Spurlock, but, on the bright side, Black Hell does have a jukebox.
More on Reverend Gary…
What happens when the second flood comes and you’re not allowed on Reverend Gary’s ark? Especially since Reverend Gary made it clear the ark is just for teen aged boys.
Because He Can’t Bring Himself to Say “BJ”
Did you know the Today Show used to have a monkey on it? Hasn’t been as good since. I think that chimp used to drive the truck himself on You Know What and The Bear
Kenneth: Oh, Mister Rossitano called to say he overslept and I should make up an excuse for him. So here goes: On his way to work, he found some magic beans, and because he believed in them…
Jenna: Who did you put in your address book as ‘’Future Husband’’?
Liz: I have absolutely no idea.
Jenna: Well, whenever I find something weird on my cell phone, I can usually trace it back to the last time I was drunk.
Liz: Oh, my God. The dentist’s office.
Jenna: Oh, your dentist gets drunk with you too?
Liz: No, when I was under the anesthesia, I did a bunch of stuff I don’t remember.
Kenneth: Including meeting the man of your dreams? Oh, Miss Lemon, it’s so romantic. Just like that movie I only saw the first 10 minutes of- Fatal Attraction.
On the Relationship Between a Man and His Envelope
Kenneth: How’s substitute teaching, sir?
Pete: Oh, just like Lean on Me. In that a guy who looks like Morgan Freeman swung a bat at me. What are you doing with those sugar cubes.
Kenneth:Starting a fan mailing campaign to save the show. People will send sugar cubes to Hank Hooper to show that they’re sweet on TGS. I’ve already sent about a hundred of these even though licking an envelope is a sin. Unless you’re married to it. So I had to marry each envelope and then divorce it, which brings me to my ninth point-
On Romances in the Workplace
I just don’t want to disgrace the peacock.
On Public Readings
Now I don’t have a lot of experience reading stuff out loud to people, so I’m going to do this the most normal way I can think of. ‘’Space, space, space, space, space, space’’. ‘’My Autobiography. ‘’Space, space, space, space, space. ‘’By Kenneth Ellen Parcell. ‘’Space, space, space, space, space.’‘
I don’t like to swear, sir, but no thank you! Now, maybe I haven’t had a wife who was kidnapped, but I have seen the Brady Bunch where Tiger runs away. We’ve all been through some bad stuff, Mr. Donaghy.
When He’s Disillusioned
Good afternoon and welcome. Not. We begin our stupid tour of this once-great network outside Studio 6-H. Uh-oh. Ring, ring. Hmm. What’s up? Nothing. Just giving a dumb tour to a bunch of uggos.
On Tracy Jordan’s Favorite Pizza
Yes ma’am. There have been several deliveries to this address of Mr. Jordan’s signature order: large cheese pizza with one slice taken out so I can pretend I’m eating Pac-Man, like my hero Blinky the ghost.
On His Special Skills
I can talk to animals. Well, not TALK to them, but take commands from them.
On What He’ll Leave Behind
I hope my legacy is a Sesame Street-type TV show that promotes illiteracy in girls.
On Global Warming
Global warming, sir? I’m sorry, that’s just a bunch of scientist talk. Same people who’d have you believe that my great grandfather was a monkey. If he was a monkey, then why was he killed by a monkey?
On the Dangers of Modern Life
Pity? Oh, sir. Back in Stone Mountain people lose their spouses all the time. Mumps, hill people attacks, cave collapses — both business and residential — continuing my list…
Liz: You’re my last hope. Please tell me you know this is temporary.
Kenneth: Of course it is. Cuz I’m gonna find a way to save the show! Lemme just take out my idea journal. Hmm. This just says “bird Internet.”
It’s an old Parcell family recipe, but I look to replace the Union soldier meat with boiled potatoes.
On the Meaning of Life
I just… I love television so much.