Judah Friedlander on comedy, ladies, and karate

There are plenty of comedians in the world,  but just one World Champion.

This Tuesday night, comedian/actor/writer/karate master Judah Friedlander brings his standup to the Varsity Theater as part of his Greatest Midwest Mega-Tour Ever.

Known for his signature trucker hats, flowing locks, and black-rimmed glasses, Friedlander has become a familiar face over the past few years thanks to his role as Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock, as well as regular appearances on VH1's I Love the... series. Back in 2010, he released a self-defense guide called, How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional Karate Book by the World Champion.

Before he takes the stage in Minneapolis, we spoke with the champ over the phone where he schooled us on his comedy career, his love life, and how he claimed the title of World Champion.

Is this your first time in Minneapolis?

I did a college somewhere in Minnesota a few years ago, but this is the first time in a while. I'm calling this the Greatest Midwest Mega Tour Ever. I'm hitting the four most important cities in the Midwest, obviously listed in order of importance, with Minneapolis being the first. I'm excited about coming to the Varsity -- not the junior varsity -- Theater. That's what being the World Champion is all about.

Speaking of that, how long have you held the title of World Champion, and what did you do to earn that title?

I'm not a math expert, but definitely since the '80s. It's all determined by karate death matches for charity. I actually entered a county tournament; won it. Then I entered the states, the nationals, and, finally, the world championships, which I dominated and became the champ. I'm proud of that title, and proud that we raised a lot of money for charity at the same time.

Has anyone ever challenged you for that title?

I usually get about 50 challengers per year. Scientists from the U.S., China, and Russia are all actually working together right now to figure out why I'm so incredible, but they've yet to determine it.

In your book, How to Beat Up Anybody, you actually include a chapter about how to get in with the ladies. How is your love life these days?

Well, I have five chicks in bed with me right now, and in the past seven minutes you and I have been talking, I've had another two who have come and gone.

Judah Friedlander on comedy, ladies, and karate
Photo by Tony Castle

A lot of people know you for your role as Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock. Are there any differences between your character and the real Judah?

Frank Rossitano wishes he was me. If he and I ended up in the same place at the same time, he would probably cower and run away, because he would be too intimidated by my presence.

As a karate/self-defense expert, how do you keep your skills sharp on the road?

I actually parkour my way from city to city. It's much faster than flying thanks to my incredible speed, and I get to see a lot of the country that way too. You know, a lot of people think that because I'm an actor that I'm going to lose my edge. But the thing is, I live in Queens, New York. I'm not running off to some fancy Hollywood gym and pretending to work out; I stay grounded in my training.

In all seriousness, you've been doing standup a long time. Do you still have any goals left for your comedy career?

Yeah, I do. My two biggest goals right now are to release my own double album of standup, and to put out my own standup concert DVD. I've actually been doing standup since 1989, and it's still the most important thing I do from an artistic standpoint.

I probably should have had like five albums and TV specials by now, but I've actually turned down offers to do standup specials on TV because I don't like the idea of giving up creative control of the product. If you do a special for HBO or Comedy Central or anyone like that, they own it. That means they can censor it, cut it up, and do whatever they want with it. When I put out my special, I want to be in charge. I want the final product to be good or bad based on me and not on anyone else.

Years ago, I used to make the joke that I'd put out my album when Guns 'N Roses put out their next album. I guess I'm a couple of years behind.

Anything peoples should do to prepare for your show this Tuesday?

Men need to realize that they shouldn't threatened by me. We're all Americans here, and they don't need to be intimidated by my presence. As for the ladies, I would just say get a good night of sleep the night before the show, and get ready for a lot of power coming your way.


Judah Friedlander
Tuesday, April 10
Doors at 7 p.m.
$20, 18+
Varsity Theater
1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis

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The Varsity Theater

1308 4th St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414



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