Bumbling for Dollars

Jack McBrayer, who speaks with a charming southern lilt and peppers his speech with “Yes, ma’ams” and “Oh gosh, nos,” admits that his character Kenneth, the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed page on NBC's hit SNL-send-up 30 Rock, isn’t that much of a stretch. “I’m not a dark and gloomy person in general. I tap into what I know,” says the 34-year-old actor.

McBrayer, born and raised in Macon, Georgia, attended the University of Evansville in Indiana, where he majored in theater management before moving to Chicago. After watching an improv show at the famed Second City Theatre, McBrayer had an epiphany-like realization that he wanted to devote his life to comedy. He signed up for classes and eventually got hired to be part of the troupe’s touring company. It was then that he met Jeff Richmond, a Second City actor and director, who would go on to marry Tina Fey, who would go on to cast him in 30 Rock. After doing some theater in New York and taking on bit TV roles, McBrayer eventually got his big break in the form of Glenn, an all-too-gullible member of Ricky Bobby’s pit crew in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (starring Will Ferrell). He wrapped Talladega in November of 2005, then booked 30 Rock that December.

As 30 Rock has gone from being a risky network gamble to one of the most critically acclaimed sitcoms on television, Kenneth has evolved from a minor side character into a central player in the 30 Rock ensemble. McBrayer, ever modest, devotes himself to the integrity of the part: “I love doing the crazy story lines, but I like when I’m just in there for a couple minutes. I’d hate for people to get over-Kennethed.”

McBrayer recently finished work on Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a Judd Apatow film in which he plays a virginal newlywed, and he’ll start shooting a second season of 30 Rock in August. Does he ever get sick of playing these bumbling innocents? “I know my limitations as an actor,” McBrayer says. “You’re not going to see me playing some street tough."

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