Kenneth Ellen Parcell is a fictional character in the comedy television series 30 Rock. He is portrayed by actor Jack McBrayer and first appeared on television in the 30 Rock episode "Pilot" on October 10, 2006. A supporting character in the first two episodes, the show's producers see him as an example of a breakout character.
Kenneth is a perpetually cheerful NBC page who carries his mother's middle name, and hails from Stone Mountain, Georgia (the actual hometown of former 30 Rock writer, and star of Community, Donald Glover), where his father was a pig farmer. In "Blind Date", Jack reveals that Kenneth's "Myers Briggs psychological testing shows a rare combination of extraverted, intuitive, and aggressive", the same as Jack's. He exclaims as he passes out from strawberry poisoning in the episode "The Ones" that his real name is Dick Whitman (a reference to the AMC drama Mad Men). Kenneth's family appears to have been in poverty; as stated in "Somebody to Love" the Parcells are neither wealthy, nor circumcised. Kenneth mentions that the Parcells "have eaten [their] share of Rock Soup and Squirrel Tail" (but also mentions that they've known "lean times" as well). At some time during his childhood, Kenneth's family lived in a militia camp. The Parcells were supporters of the Confederacy, as in "Flu Shot", Kenneth reveals that his family's traditional burial for Parcell men is that their body is wrapped in a Confederate flag, fried, and fed to dogs. In "Respawn", Kenneth has a family recipe which he has tinkered with, saying he has replaced the ingredient of Union Soldier meat with boiled potatoes.
The Parcells also had bizarre intercourse rituals, where if a, presumably, male succeeded in getting a mate, they would lay their woman across their Grandmother's lap in the "mating shed" (Kenneth mentions that Albinos would be in there as well, as they are the "Watchers").
After Kenneth's father died, his mother's "friend" Ron moved in. It is heavily hinted that his mother had a sexual relationship with Ron, but Kenneth remains blissfully unaware of this, though it is hinted that he has a great hatred towards Ron.
At Kentucky Mountain Bible College, Kenneth majored in television studies and minored in bible sexuality, and his favorite subject was science, "especially the Old Testament." He considers his mother his best friend, and credits her with his persistent optimism, since she taught him that no matter how bad things seem, there is always someone else having a worse day, "like being stung by a bee, or getting a splinter, or being chained to a wall in someone's sex dungeon." At the end of "The Baby Show", it seems as though Kenneth had preserved his mother's corpse à la Psycho, but it is later shown that his mother is alive (the skeleton was a Halloween decoration, and his mother was talking to him on the phone). Aside from being a pig farmer, not much else is known about Kenneth's father, although according to Kenneth in a deleted scene of "The One with the Cast of Night Court", his parents were first cousins (a fact which Kenneth's father kept from Kenneth's mother, since if she knew she would not have married him), and in "The Collection", he tells Jenna that his father died of a heart attack. It is also later established in the episode "Kidney Now!" that Kenneth is the cousin of American Idol 2nd-season runner-up Clay Aiken. He is almost never seen without his page uniform, even in his free time, and he once cried out, "Oh god it hurts" when he watched his jacket catch on fire.
An awkward yet polite rube, he is always smiling, excited and happy to do his menial job, which many people do not understand. He has explained in two episodes ("Pilot" and "The Head and the Hair") that this is because he loves television so much. His love of television and his unending devotion to the NBC network are two of his most defining character traits. For example, he told Pete that he didn't want to "disgrace the peacock" in "The C Word," and, in "Corporate Crush," he was seen knitting a woolen bikini with the NBC Peacock on it for his grandmother. He has stated in "Believe in the Stars" that he only loves two things: "everybody and television." He also named his parakeet after Sonny Crockett.
Kenneth is generally well-liked at NBC, but has a determined nemesis in Head Page Donnie (Paul Scheer), who forced him to go through a humiliating series of tasks to get a new page jacket in "Rosemary's Baby" and who worked overtime to subvert Kenneth's application to work at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the episode "Cooter". In real life, McBrayer and Scheer are friends who have an acclaimed two-man comedy improv show together.
As seen in "Hiatus," Kenneth has a considerably less friendly and more violent cousin, Jesse Parcell (Sean Hayes), living in Needmore, Pennsylvania.
In "Apollo, Apollo", it was shown that Kenneth sees everyone as muppets. In "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001", he appeared as a muppet while walking by an HD camera.
In different and numerous episodes, Kenneth is shown speaking different languages. These languages include Mandarin in "Cooter", French in "Flu Shot", German in "Episode 210", and Latin in "Audition Day". This adds to the myth that Ken is older than he looks due to how fluent he seems to be in all of these languages. He can also speak backwards fluently, and in "Kidney Now!", he is shown to be able to talk to without moving his lips. In the episode "Succession", he is able to guess cards with ease, although Grizz doesn't tell him he can.
Kenneth is proven to be completely selfless in "Believe in the Stars". In this episode Kenneth becomes trapped in an elevator which Jack claims to have hermetically sealed. Jack announces that there is enough air for 8 people, while the elevator contains 9, and therefore "one of us . . . must die." Kenneth expresses appall at Jack's grisly statement, but, when Jack tells him that he has "placed a pistol loaded with one bullet" in the emergency box, without hesitation Kenneth quickly removes the gun, holds it to his head and pulls the trigger, not just once, but twice when it does not discharge the first time. Finding the gun inoperable, he slips his own belt around his neck and urges the others to strangle him, ignoring his inevitable resistance, which is "human nature." Jack, disgusted to find that Kenneth's total selflessness is genuine, abruptly opens the elevator door, saying, "What is WRONG with you?" In "The Ones", Kenneth willingly sends himself into anaphylactic shock by drinking water tainted with strawberries so that Jenna might see a local paramedic she has a crush on. On another occasion, while observing from afar the antics of the other cast members, he vehemently argues aloud with an unseen entity named Jacob (a reference to the character from Lost), professing the good in them, and claiming he needs more time, similar to the biblical character Lot.
It is revealed in "I Do Do," that Kenneth the Page wears a concealed weapon when, after Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit) is ordered by new NBC owner Kabletown to fire Kenneth for giving an improper studio tour, he places not only his beloved NBC ID badge on Hornberger's desk, but a pistol as well.
In "The Collection" Liz Lemon asks Kenneth if he can walk and talk. This makes him uneasy, realizing that now he's thinking about walking and talking in addition to walking and talking, and for a few moments he struggles immensely coordinating his gait before the tension leaves and he is once more able to do both things simultaneously.
Kenneth has technically died two different times. Once in "The Ones" when he purposefully gave himself a strawberry allergic reaction (So Jenna could get the number of a paramedic she liked) and was legally dead for five minutes before the paramedics came. And again in "College" when he got hypothermia on the balcony to Jack's office and briefly died, returning with a message from God he forgot.
Kenneth is very religious. It is revealed in "The Fighting Irish" that his religion is called "Eighth Day Resurrected Covenant of the Holy Trinity". It seems to be an extreme sort of Charismatic Christianity. In the episode "Greenzo", Kenneth says he intends to "party like it's 1999," which according to his Bible will be in seven years. He often doles out folksy religious advice, for example advising Pete to think of God to prevent him from cheating on his wife in "Black Tie." His church (which was in the basement of a Cuban restaurant) has a fire-and-brimstone preacher, who scared away Tracy when Kenneth brought him there. It is revealed in "The C Word" that he attended Kentucky Mountain Bible College, where he studied television theory, and where the Old Testament was a part of science class. In "Black Tie," Kenneth referred to Footloose as the movie where "those evil kids won in the end." Also, he reads the Bible in German, because it is the only way "to get all the versteckte Bedeutungen (hidden meanings)." In "Episode 210," he says he does not drink any hot beverages, for that is "the Devil's temperature."
In "Subway Hero", Kenneth reveals that he has no political views because "choosing is a sin." Instead, he always submits write-in votes for God. However, according to Jack, those count as Republican.
In "Christmas Special", when Liz (believes) she got ripped off by two adults who scammed her through the letters to Santa program, Kenneth refuses to believe anyone would scam a Christmas charity (he further demonstrates his naïvety when he asks Liz, while trying to prove his point that people would not do something as wrong as scamming on a Religious holiday, "when has Religion ever caused any trouble?").
It is hinted that he is not very educated/respectful of other religions, such as when he wished Josh Girard a "Merry Jewish". Another example is in "100", when Jenna tries to seduce him so she can have a baby, he refuses on the grounds that they're unmarried and are a part of different religions. In "Secret Santa," he sets up a multi-faith holiday display which includes a framed photo of Barack Obama "for the Muslims."
Kenneth has said he does not believe in hypothetical situations because its like "lying to your brain" ("Believe in the Stars"). When Jack tells Kenneth he knows the ten commandments, Kenneth snorts and says "Ten?" implying he follows more.
Although he is very respectful towards the other staff, male and female alike, he is shown to have some views on women that are somewhat misogynistic. In "The Funcooker", when he is put in charge, his first act is to have all menstruating women go home immediately. In "TGS Hates Women", Kenneth reveals that he wants his legacy to be a Sesame Street-esque show that "promotes illiteracy in girls". Another example is in "100", when Kenneth states that he believes it is "crazy" that women have the right to choose their own haircuts.
Unsurprisingly, Kenneth does not believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution. However, he does believe that Candles, Incense and Disco Music are a part of the "Easter spirit". It is also hinted he prefers the clean shaven look, as when he was placed in charge (see above), he forbade beards and moustaches in the workplace.
In "Gavin Volure," Kenneth admits to having $76,000 in Confederate currency.
Jack has said that Kenneth's "county never rejoined the Union", as to why he was considered foreign.