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World Champion

(photo by Daniel Boud /

Ping pong, wrestling, and the invasion of Toronto by giant snowmen with Judah Friedlander

After starring in 30 Rock and touring the world competing in martial arts contests and ping pong tournaments, Judah Friedlander pays a visit to Helium Comedy Club, February 20-22, to perform five shows.

Who would you say is the actual world champion? Floyd Mayweather? The Seattle Seahawks? Bruce Lee? Those guys don’t stand a chance against Friedlander, the quirky, trucker-hat-wearing 30 Rock star. Friedlander is best known as Frank Rossitano on Tina Fey’s sitcom featured on NBC and is a self-proclaimed “world champion” of anything to which he puts his mind. While flying all over the world to deliver his unique, crowd-engaging comedy routine, he took a few minutes to talk to us about professional wrestler Mick Foley, his plan to solve Buffalo’s snow issue, and how Buffalo can take over Toronto.

AV: Friedlander, Buffalo is very excited to have you. The last time you were in the Queen City you performed at Nietzche’s. Did you enjoy Buffalo?

Friedlander: Yeah! Absolutely, love Buffalo.

AV: What I’ve heard is that within your show you are open and willing to provide personal solutions to problems that the crowd might suggest. For example, your solution to the world’s homelessness problem: putting all of the homeless in toll booths because they have experience asking for change.

Friedlander: I care about people, so I try to come up with solutions for everything.

AV: What if I asked you to come up with a solution for Buffalo. What do we do with all of our snow?

Friedlander: I got it already! We build a massive snowman and have it invade Canada, and then Buffalo takes over Toronto. You have the giant snowman play center for the Buffalo Bills. It’s all connected.

AV: One thing I did today was check out your Twitter account, and it appears as if you play a considerable amount of ping pong. Is this true?

Friedlander: Of course! I am an athlete.

AV: Should we go head-to-head when you come to Buffalo?

Friedlander: Absolutely, line up a table and I’ll play you. First of all, start training right now and get ready.

AV: I know you’re into professional wrestling. Who is your favorite wrestler in the WWE?

Friedlander: Currently?

AV: Of all time.

Friedlander: Mankind is hands-down one of my favorites. There are so many, you know?

AV: He was recently at Helium Comedy Club here in Buffalo and put on one hell of a show.

Friedlander: I actually helped him out a lot with his writing several years ago when he first started doing comedy. I took him around New York City to the clubs with me, provided advice. He is a great guy.

AV: Having Mick Foley look up to you for advice must have been a really great feeling, considering you’re such a big fan of wrestling.

Friedlander: Oh yeah, man, the guy’s a legend. He’s the nicest guy ever, too.

AV: Who would you say is your biggest influence when it comes to standup comedy? You started over 20 years ago; you must have some legendary idols.

Friedlander: It’s so hard to say because there were so many different guys over the years. There were guys that you may have never heard of like John Mulrooney and guys that you have heard of like Stephen Wright, Andrew Dice Clay—you know, there are so many!

AV: What was it like working on Curb Your Enthusiasm with Larry David?

Friedlander: That was incredible. I just did one episode but it was so great, I loved it. That guy is amazing. He is truly a legend and it was so much fun working with him. He’s very funny. The set was very loose and unpretentious. You know, very laid-back, but they film very fast.

AV: One thing I assume almost everyone asks you about is your hat collection. It’s your thing, part of your brand. Are you aware that Buffalo is home to the largest hat company in the world, New Era Cap Company?

Friedlander: No, I didn’t know that!

AV: They have a flagship store no further than a mile from Helium. You should check it out. I actually teamed up with New Era to make custom caps, small runs here in Buffalo, and I know how long it can take to manufacture and get my hands on a custom cap. How do you have so many hats and how are they made?

Friedlander: I make all of my own caps or they are given to me when I win the world championship. My hats are made very spontaneously, but the hats that I wear while doing standup all say “world champion” on them in one language or another.

AV: When you come to Buffalo, where do you plan to eat?

Friedlander: No plans, but open to suggestion if you might have some.

AV: Looks like you’re going to play some ping pong and catch some great Buffalo wings at Gabriel’s Gate. They’re the best.

Friedlander: Definitely, I am going to crush you in ping pong. my man. Start training, read some books, start training.

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