Rella Jr., Richard. “You’ve Got To Have Friends.” Backstage 4-10 Feb. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 5

While evaluating my December numbers, I noticed that I actually put together a solid month of activity during 30 Rock’s hiatus. I had wonderful auditions for four Bank of America spots and an audition for a supporting role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. I performed in Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding, and I sang at two different Holiday parties. I also booked a week long gig in Schenectady, NY. I sang there two years ago and I am very much looking forward to going back in late February.

When I received the call on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that I would be photo doubling for Maulik Pancholy, who brilliantly plays “Jonathan” on 30 Rock, I was ecstatic. The scene was nightmarishly complicated involving a song, a touch screen computer, and an iPhone. Not only would I have to reproduce Maulik’s choreography, but I would also have to fit into his costume.

In the November issue of Parade Magazine, Alec Baldwin writes that his mother’s baking is “diet kryptonite.” My Italian American mother detests that I eat whole wheat pasta, I refuse to put grated cheese on my gravy (that’s marinara sauce for the non-Italians), and under normal circumstances, I don’t eat dessert. Over the holidays, I spend more time with my family, so mom tends to pile on the food. Any dietary objections fall on deaf ears in an Italian home. Besides, my mother’s cooking is so good. Needless to say, this winter season I put on a couple of pounds.

When I get to wardrobe and button the size thirty pants, I fully recognize the error of my ways. I feel like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, “fat guy in a little coat.” I literally stand for six hours afraid that if I sit down I will take someone’s eye out with a trouser button. I am immediately transported back to my Catholic school days. More than once, the only clue my parents would have that I was growing out of my uniform was when I’d come home from school with a stapled inseam that I tore playing football at lunch.

Thankfully, after hours of worrying about whether or not I am going to turn into the Incredible Hulk and destroy this expensive suit, we film the scene. Like all performing, it seems to be over too quickly. In the blink of an eye, I am heading back to wardrobe to get changed. Afterward, the director, who has directed several episodes in the past two seasons, asks me to call him by his first name and thanks me for my work.

All in all it was a great day, but I learned two valuable lessons. I need to be more responsible in the winter off-season. More importantly, I was reminded to laugh at myself. After all, if you don’t laugh at yourself, no one else will either.