'30 Rock' Extra's Petition for Speaking Role Earns Hundreds of Supporters
NEW YORK CITY — All he wants is the chance to be heard.
Hundreds of fans have taken to Facebook to tell the producers of "30 Rock" to give a longtime extra a speaking role, after the actor began a grassroots campaign for the cause.
For five years, Gary Marinoff has portrayed a non-speaking stage manager in the background of the hit NBC comedy behind stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.
Now that the series is in its final season, he decided to put up hundreds of posters around the city encouraging fans to demand he get his big break.
In response, fans by the hundreds posted a simple message on the show's Facebook page ad nauseum: "Let Gary Speak."
"'30 Rock' was the best time in my life," said Marinoff, 54, in an interview with DNAinfo.com New York. "I was always hoping that I would move up to a speaking role. I feel I'm the greatest character actor of all time."
He estimates he was in 70 or 80 episodes over the past few years, and he most recently filmed one in October. He typically made between $150 and $350 for a day's work.
An image of Marinoff's poorly written poster, which asked "my fellow New Yorks" [sic] for help, was posted to Reddit and spurred many to his cause.
A spokeswoman for the show did not respond to requests for comment.
The nebbish Marinoff — who performs at the People's Improv Theater on weeknights, is a published poet, sometimes performs standup comedy and raps — said he was shocked by the outpouring of support online.
"The reaction was really good, fabulous," he said. "They saw me on the show, and they're my fans — so many fans."
A slight lisp and stutter has not stopped Marinoff from being a regular on the improv circuit and perform his spoken-word shows around the city. He said he aspires to be "the greatest poet of the 20th century."
Often cocking his head to the side and shouting "ha cha cha," Marinoff cites old-Hollywood actors like Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope as his inspirations.
"I believe for real comedy, you have to be true to yourself," he said. "I believe I can make the networks. I think you can do that by being a good person."
The actor fell on hard times after the fifth season of "30 Rock," becoming homeless and moving to a shelter in Florida. He managed to get a job working as a canvasser on the campaign to elect Andrew Gounardes to State Senate, and now lives in a small apartment in Forest Hills, Queens.
Now that the election is over, Marinoff's hoping a speaking role on the smash hit will propel him into another job. If given a part, he said he may want to perform some of his original hip-hop on the show.
"Strip me here, strip me there — just leave me with my underwear," he sang, giving a sample of his rhymes.
Marinoff is confident that the show will invite him to speak, especially if he's able to get the attention of its star actors, who he said he often goofed around with on set.
"They treated you very well. Tina [Fey] is a super nice, very friendly person," he said.
"When you're in Tina's house, you're family."