"30 Rock" producer keeps laughs flowing

Mon Jun 7, 2010 1:49am EDT
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By Jeff Miller

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Robert Carlock remembers the precise moment he knew he could make people laugh.

He was 8 and sitting in a Sunday school class at a Unitarian church in his hometown of Weston, Mass., just outside Boston. The teacher had given a heady assignment: Draw a picture of the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.

Glancing at Carlock's paper, the teacher laughed. There was Saul, blinded by the godly light, and over his head the caption: "What the...?"

"I'm not even sure I knew what the rest of that sentence should have been," Carlock says by phone from his home on the Upper West Side, just minutes after sending his two young children and wife on a trip to DisneyWorld, where he'll meet them later in the weekend. "I do remember enjoying that laugh."

In four seasons as co-executive producer of "30 Rock," Carlock has netted three Emmys, three Golden Globes and a Writers Guild award. More impressive, the noted "perfectionist" (according to "30 Rock" actor Jack McBrayer) and former editor of the Harvard Lampoon has pulled off one of the few workplace comedies worth watching since "Cheers," and given NBC a lifesaving shot at Must DVR TV.

It's been a grind. Carlock -- slim, nebbish and friendly -- oversees two writers' rooms, with each working on separate episodes simultaneously to meet the show's single-camera and locations challenges.

He's also written 14 of the show's 97 episodes. And, with fellow writer/executive producer Fey, he's made Alec Baldwin TV's most absurdly funny leading man -- though not without some anxiety. "The challenge of writing for Alec was that if it wasn't funny, it wasn't a question of performance," he says. "He can do anything."

Carlock's boss says the same of him. "He is the funniest thing to come out of Harvard since the Henry Louis Gates incident," quips Fey, who's close enough to Carlock that she arranged her own family vacation to DisneyWorld to coincide with his.   Continued...

<p>Actress Tina Fey and a guest attend the Governor's Ball at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 21, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>