As comedian Judah Friedlander’s shtick makes abundantly clear, he is the World Champion. Of what, exactly? Who knows. Perhaps it’s this ambiguity regarding Friedlander’s championship status that has allowed him to retain the unchallenged title for the last seven years. The self-proclamation has also given the comic—who may be best known for portraying slovenly TV writer Frank Rossitano on the hit television show 30 Rock—carte blanche to make outlandish claims of improbable athletic feats and inhuman sexual prowess. Prior to his four-night stint at D.C. Improv, The A.V. Club caught up with the World Champion to discuss hooking up with chicks, the importance of staying in character, and whether Steven Seagal could beat Jean-Claude Van Damme in a fight.
The A.V. Club: You make your signature hats yourself. Which hat are you the most proud of?
Judah Friedlander: Well, there’s a few. And sometimes I make these hats up literally last second so that they add to the scene, never distract from it. Or, the hat reveals something about my character. Like, I wrote one hat that said “Kayfabe.”
AVC: What’s “Kayfabe?”
JF: Only one other person out of the entire 150-person cast and crew knew what the word meant. It was one of our camera guys. It’s a professional wrestling term—it refers to staying in character. So, if you went to see Hulk Hogan fight Sgt. Slaughter at Madison Square Garden as rivals and later that night you go out to a bar and see them hanging out and high-fiving, that would be considered “breaking kayfabe.”
AVC: Did you grow up on wrestling?
JF: I became a wrestling fan in college. So, I was more of a wrestling fan as an adult than when I was a little kid. My best friend in college was a huge wrestling fan. I remember in college we used to wake up every Saturday morning to watch Saved By The Bell. Then we would go back to sleep and then wake up at noon to watch WWF wrestling.
AVC: Who is your favorite wrestler?
JF: If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Mick Foley, Mankind. I actually got to meet him this year at a horror movie/sci-fi convention. It turns out he’s a big 30 Rock fan.
AVC: You have quite a bit of merchandise on your website, including your famous trucker hats. What is the one item you can’t keep in stock?
JF: That nude photograph of me doing karate just keeps selling out. I think every woman in the country and 10 percent of the men have all ordered that.
AVC: In your “World Champion” routine, you tend to brag about how you “hook up with lots of chicks.” Who do you think hooks up with more chicks, you or Mystery of VH1’s The Pick Up Artist?
JF: Oh, that guy with the eyeliner? That guy is a complete fraud. First of all, half the chicks that guy picks up are dudes, so they don’t even count. Yeah, that guy has no game at all. The only reason I do stand-up is to take a break from hooking up with so many chicks. When I go on the road, the only reason I do that is because I've already hooked up with all the chicks in one town. It's time to go find more chicks. That’s why I’m coming to D.C., because Michelle Obama’s been texting me.
AVC: You also have a noteworthy acting career. Are there any directors you’re dying to work with?
JF: I’d like to work with John Waters. I grew up in Maryland, so I’m a huge Waters fan. Paul Verhoeven might be my favorite director and I’m serious. I’m like, in love with that guy… Starship Troopers is easily my favorite movie of the last 10 years. I think it is brilliant and I think it is quite funny too. I actually think Showgirls is a great movie, and I enjoy laughing at it, but I legitimately think it is a great movie. Oh, and Steven Seagal—I’d love to work with him.
AVC: The rumor is that Seagal is very difficult to work with.
JF: I’m sure he is. I’m a massive Steven Seagal fan. I know his movies are horrible, but I’ve watched all of them over and over again. I’d want to do a movie with him and Van Damme. I think they are afraid of me—that’s why I haven’t worked with them yet. Well, I know that’s the reason.
AVC: Who would win in a fight, Seagal or Van Damme?
JF: Gotta go with Seagal on that one.
AVC: You think? Van Damme seems like he’s in much better shape.
JF: U.S.A., baby. Gotta go with the American.