Leap Day Williams 30 Rock Episode

In a ranking of the top US holidays, Leap Day doesn’t even crack the top 30. Maybe it is because it only happens every four years. Or maybe because it is just an average day and not an actual holiday. Whatever the reason, February 29th isn’t typically described as “innovative”, “fresh”, or “brilliant.”

But those are the exact words used in reviews of 30 Rock’s Leap Day Williams episode.

Four years ago, the comedy series took something so simple, a non-popular holiday, and created an episode that has become one of the most popular in the show’s history. Their writers took an average day and spun it on its head, receiving positive reviews for its inventive script and the engaging performance by its guest stars.

When the show first aired in 2012, I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. Any show where Tracy Morgan has to eat $50,000 worth of Japanese food in one day is right up my alley. Plus it included dumb quotes like “I don’t know a lot about business but he did an Internet and now the computers like him, and Wall Street is Google.”

Rather than worrying that people may find Leap Day boring, 30 Rock decided to just have fun. The episode featured made up Leap Day traditions including:

  • One must wear yellow and blue, unless you want to get poked in the eye. (In Boston, Jack says they stomp your foot and kick you in the knee. “Yankees suck. Go Pats!”)
  • A Santa-like character named Leap Day William who is the charitable top hat wearing old man character that comes out of the Mariana Trench every four years and trades candy for children’s tears
  • Watching the movie Leap Dave Williams, where Jim Carrey plays a lawyer who slowly starts turning into the “real” Leap Day William
  • And a lesson on the  the true meaning of Leap Day (“Real life is for March”).

Innovative, fresh idea, brilliant. Not words you’ll find describing the last day of a month. But 30 Rock showed it is possible to turn something mundane into something magical.

The episode ends with the “real” Leap Day Williams saying, “Well, I guess we’ve all learned something tonight about love and friendship, about taking chances, about the true meaning of Leap Day. But these lessons aren’t good just for every four years. No, they’re good every year because we should live every day as if it’s Leap Day and every Leap Day as if it’s your last. Oh, and if you should ever see an old man in a blue suit, busting out of the middle of the ocean, take the time to say, ‘Howdy’. It might just be worth your while.”

Mixed in all that nonsense is actually some pretty good advice.

More on 30 Rock’s Leap Day Williams episode