Judah Friedlander

Judah Friedlander

Friedlander at The Stand in June 2016.
Born (1969-03-16) March 16, 1969
Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1989–present
Website www.judahfriedlander.com

Judah Friedlander (born March 16, 1969)[1][2] is an American actor and comedian, known for playing the role of writer Frank Rossitano on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock.[3][4][5] Friedlander is also known for his role as Toby Radloff in the film American Splendor,[1][4][6] a role that garnered him favorable reviews and a nomination for best supporting actor at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards.[6][7][8][9][10][11] Earlier in his career he was recognized as "the hug guy" from the music video for the 2001 Dave Matthews Band single "Everyday".[5][6][12]

Friedlander is known for his distinctive look, which includes oversized glasses, shaggy hair, a T-shirt and trucker hat (both often emblazoned with bombastic slogans such as "world champion"), and a generally unkempt appearance.[1][3][10][11][12][13] It is a look he maintains as a stand-up comedian, during most of his public appearances, and which he has employed in some of his acting roles.[1][3][11][14]

Early life

Friedlander was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the son of Shirley and Art Friedlander.[1][12] His father was of Russian Jewish descent and his mother, a native of Pittsburgh, is Croatian American.[12][15][16]

As a child, Friedlander drew political cartoons and made animated films.[17] He first tried stand-up comedy in 1989 at the age of 19 while attending New York University.[3][11][13][18]


Friedlander at the CollegeHumor presentation at the 2012 New York Comic Con

Stand-up comedy

Friedlander has performed stand-up comedy regularly throughout his entertainment career.[3][4][13] He continued to perform stand-up several nights a week in New York City while working on the sitcom 30 Rock.[3][4] Friedlander has stated that he is most relaxed when doing stand-up[11] and that he considers stand-up to be his first true love,[19] preferring it to acting.[20] He stated in 2012 that stand-up comedy is "still the most important thing I do from an artistic standpoint."[21]

Friedlander has cited comedians Steven Wright, Sam Kinison and John Mulrooney as influences.[22] He also says that Dave Attell is one of his favorite comics.[22]

Friedlander's comedic performances often feature him making outrageous and bombastic claims about himself with a deadpan delivery.[3][6][12][19] Many of these claims are reflected in slogans displayed on the many trucker hats he wears — the most common being "World Champion", a slogan he has worn in various languages.[6][10][11][15][17]

One of his claims include being an expert in karate, having achieved an "extra-dark black belt" in the sport.[4][14][23] In 2010, he authored the humor book How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion.[8][17] Friedlander's claims provide comedic irony when contrasted against his nonchalant attitude and physical appearance.[3][10] Friedlander wears large, thick-rimmed glasses, is often unshaven and is generally unkempt.[3][5][17] His physique has also been described as "doughy".[10][12]

The look that Friedlander employs during his stand-up has also carried over into some of his television and film roles, including his 30 Rock role as TV writer Frank Rossitano.[14][17] Frank is however much lazier than Friedlander's "World Champion" persona.[14][24]

In 2007, Heeb magazine included Friedlander in their list of "100 people you need to know about".[25]


Friedlander in October 2010

Friedlander played the role of a techie on the Al Franken sitcom LateLine in 1999.[2] Over the 2000s Friedlander held guest roles on several television shows, including Spin City, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Flight of the Conchords, as well as providing voices for characters on the animated series Wonder Showzen and Xavier: Renegade Angel.[2] Friedlander made regular appearances on the entertainment and pop-culture program Best Week Ever.[9][19] He appeared as the online co-host of the 2009 TV Land Awards, alongside main stage host Neil Patrick Harris.[26][27]

Judah Friedlander at the 67th Annual Peabody Awards for 30 Rock

Friedlander was a regular cast member of the sitcom 30 Rock throughout its entire run, from October 11, 2006, to January 31, 2013.[1][22] His character, Frank Rossitano, is a sarcastic and wisecracking writer on the fictional show TGS with Tracy Jordan[1][11][28] Frank is lazy, slovenly, and lives with his mother (played by Patti Lupone).[17][29] He is also sex-obsessed, which he often reveals by way of vulgar and sexually suggestive comments.[1][17][28] Friedlander has stated that Frank Rossitano is based on at least two writers with whom Tina Fey used to work at Saturday Night Live.[28] His ever-changing, slogan-bearing trucker hats also became a running gag on the show.[20][28] Friedlander makes his hats himself and created enough of them to be able to wear a different one in each scene of 30 Rock, which is about three hats per show.[12][18][28]

Friedlander has appeared on late-night talk shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Last Call with Carson Daly.[2] In 2010 Friedlander appeared in 2 episodes of the children's series Sesame Street.[2][8][30] He also appeared as a panelist on The Burn with Jeff Ross in 2013.[2]

In May and June 2014, Friedlander narrated ESPN's Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil six-part series in preparation for the World Cup in Brazil.[31]

He has appeared on MSNBC's Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell and provided personal commentary on The World Cup and soccer in general.[32]

Film and video

In 2001, Friedlander played "the hug guy" in the music video for the Dave Matthews Band single "Everyday"; his character is seen hugging various people throughout the video.[6][12][13] Friedlander was recognized for his "hug guy" role for years after appearing in the video, causing complete strangers to offer him hugs.[6] That same year he appeared in the comedy film Wet Hot American Summer.[1][2]

In 2003 Friedlander played Toby Radloff in the biopic American Splendor, a role that received favorable reviews — his performance was deemed "unforgettable"[1] by The New York Times and "pitch-perfect" by both Nick A. Zaino III of The Boston Globe[9] and Dan Dinicola of The Daily Gazette.[33] He was also nominated in the category of best supporting actor at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards.[1][6][28]

Friedlander had roles in the Ben Stiller films Meet the Parents, Zoolander and Along Came Polly.[1][2]

He had a starring role in the 2005 independent comedy Full Grown Men and a supporting role in the 2008 drama The Wrestler.[2][8][14]

He has also appeared in films such as Duane Hopwood, Chapter 27, Southern Belles, Live Free or Die, and Feast.[2][8]

Personal life

Friedlander has lived in the New York City area over most of his career, with the exception of two years in Los Angeles.[4] Currently residing in Queens,[11][21] he has stated that he prefers living in New York.[4]

Friedlander enjoys playing ping-pong.[4][5][11][15] As a child he had played the sport competitively, and he took it up again in 2008.[4][5] He is a big fan of professional wrestling, which is often used as subject matter for his trademark hats and shirts. He is also a fan of the New York Red Bulls, he has attended games at Red Bull Arena, and has appeared in commercials for the team.[34]


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Endsville Wrestling fan
Meet the Parents Pharmacy clerk
2001 Wet Hot American Summer Ronald von Kleinenstein
Zoolander Scrappy Zoolander Non-speaking
How High Student
2002 Showtime Julio
2003 The Trade Duffy Dyer
Old School Action figure dude TV version
American Splendor Toby Radloff
The Janitor Drunk man
2004 Starsky and Hutch Ice-cream man
Bad Meat Maintenance man
Along Came Polly Dustin
2005 Duane Hopwood Anthony
Southern Belles Duane
Pizza Jimmy
The Unseen Earl
Feast Beer guy
2006 The Darwin Awards Simon
Date Movie Nicky
Live Free or Die Hesh
The Cassidy Kids Adult Max Cassidy
Full Grown Men Elias Guber
2007 Chapter 27 Paul
The Proctor Harry
2008 Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds Beer guy
Meet Dave Engineer
The Wrestler Scott Brumberg
2009 I Hate Valentine's Day Dan O'Finn
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever Toby
Xavier: Renegade Angel Big Papa Dick
2010 Beware the Gonzo Cafeteria guy
2011 Rio Tourist Voice
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Head Mini Sloth
2013 Epic Larry The Cab Driver
2014 Sharknado 2: The Second One Brian
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Bar Patron Voice
Television shows
Year Title Role Notes
2001 Spring Break Lawyer Mervin
2004 Channel Surfing Voice
Curb Your Enthusiasm Donald
2005 Sunday Pants Voice
2006 Wonder Showzen Crickey Ep. 203 & 207
2006–13 30 Rock Frank Rossitano Main cast
2007 Flight of the Conchords Pawn shop patron
2010 Sesame Street Inspector 4 1 episode
2012 Oddities Himself/patron
2013 Childrens Hospital Al Yankovic 1 episode
2015 Fresh Off the Boat Ray
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Ron von Kleinenstein
2016 Bordertown Sanford Buckwald Voice
Albert Gene Voice; TV movie


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Andrea LeVasseur. "Judah Friedlander biography". All Movie Guide. All Media Guide. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Judah Friedlander at the Internet Movie Database
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Zinoman, Jason (September 5, 2012). "Working a Crowd Is Part of the Act". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Feldmar, Jamie (June 8, 2011). "Judah Friedlander Talks 30 Rock, Standup and Ping Pong". Gothamist. Gothamist LLC. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Aaron Hillis (July 1, 2009). "Judah Friedlander Keeps Truckin'". IFC. AMC Networks. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Hill, Dave (January 23, 2005). "A Night Out With: Judah Friedlander; The Hug Guy Takes the Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  7. Elvis Mitchell, Elvis (August 15, 2003). "American Splendor (2003). Full Review; A Comics Guy, Outside the Box". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 "Bios: Judah Friedlander". nbc.com. NBCUniversal Media. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 Zaino III, Nick A. (November 11, 2005). "A world-class loser in films, Friedlander is a champ onstage". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 McIntyre, Michael K. (June 15, 2011). "Judah Friedlander takes his talents to Hilarities". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Jethro Nededog (January 12, 2012). "'30 Rock's' Judah Friedlander: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Me". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 William, Loeffler (April 19, 2007). "'30 Rock' star Judah Friedlander takes comedy on road". Pittsburg Tribune-Review. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Tasha A. Harris (November 7, 2005). "Judah Friedlander: The World Champion Speaks". Punchline Magazine. Laughspin. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Berube, Chris (May 11, 2011). "What do you say, Judah Friedlander?". The Grid. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  15. 1 2 3 Vallis, Alexandra (May 22, 2009). "Judah Friedlander Thinks Manhattan Pizza Has 'Gone Downhill'". New York Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  16. "The next generation of Jewish Humor in America". City Pages. October 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Jenn McKee (April 9, 2012). "30 Rock's Judah Friedlander offering his World Champion stand-up in Ann Arbor". AnnArbor.com. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  18. 1 2 Mathis, Joel (April 3, 2009). "Judah Friedlander Likes Hats". Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  19. 1 2 3 Mudhar, Raju (September 21, 2008). "Judah Friedlander: Hats off to standup guy". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  20. 1 2 Alexandra Martell (September 23, 2010). "30 Rock's Judah Friedlander on Karate and the Hat That Was Too Hot for NBC". Vulture. New York Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  21. 1 2 Patrick Strait (April 9, 2012). "Judah Friedlander on comedy, ladies, and karate". City Pages. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  22. 1 2 3 Finn, Timothy (February 6, 2013). "After '30 Rock,' comic Judah Friedlander is ready for new projects". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  23. Riggs, Mike (November 24, 2011). "Get Out: Judah Friedlander". The Washington Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  24. Jenna Marotta (April 12, 2012). "Judah Friedlander at Mayne Stage". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  25. "The next generation of Jewish Humor in America". All About Jewish Theatre. October 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  26. Shattuck, Kathryn (April 26, 2009). "What's On Today". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  27. GossipGirls.com (April 20, 2009). "Christina Applegate Picks Up TV Land Innovator Award". UpNorthLive.com. Barrington Broadcasting Group. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "'30 Rock' star rockets into Pittsburgh Thursday, April 19, 2007". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 13, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  29. Hertz, Barry (November 22, 2010). "Judah Friedlander, comic crusader". National Post. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  30. Dylan P. Gadino (February 18, 2010). "Judah Friedlander is 'spectacular' on Sesame Street". Laughspin Magazine. Laughspin. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  31. "New ESPN Series 'Inside: U.S. Soccer's March to Brazil' Premieres Tuesday". US Soccer. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  32. "'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, July 1st, 2014". July 1, 2014.
  33. Dinicola, Dan (September 12, 2003). "'American Splendor' as delightful as oddball subject Pekar". Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  34. Youtube. Major League Soccer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWMOp9r0kPY. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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