In what was probably one of my favorite moments of San Diego Comic Con, I had the pleasure to sit down at a press round table with most of the cast and creative team of the NBC hit Community.
There’s absolutely no mistaking the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the Community family – in fact, I’ve yet to find a group of individuals that are as tight knit, genuine and comedic as those who attend or work at Greendale. The passion the actors have for their work and the support they give each other is completely apparent in the way they interact and speak about their characters, personalities, and the show itself. As Joel McHale expressed, “we’re very lucky because the people in the cast are totally reasonable people and being a series regular on a network show that’s going into its third season is a very rare thing and the cast understands that it’s insanely good fortune where we are.”
Danny Pudi & Ken Jeong
“I think a lot of our fans are sort of off the grid,” commented Danny Pudi when asked about the fan reaction to the show and how it’s helped them grow in popularity. “A lot of people I meet are like, ‘I don’t own a tv, but I watch you guys.’” Added Ken Jeong, alter ego of Spanish-teacher-turned-student Senor Chang, “my parents are first generation Koreans and they’re older and they get the relationships between the characters…they get the love and they know who the moral center is of the show. That translates – the relationship and the warmth.”
I was personally curious if it was difficult for the cast to keep their characters from becoming stereotypes as they handled different situations, and Jeong was more than enthusiastic in his response. “I make the argument that this is the most socially progressive post racial sitcom there’s ever been,” he said. “It’s so rare they’re basing anything on stereotype. It’s the most ethnically diverse television show in my eyes.”
Dan Harmon & Chevy Chase
Showrunner Dan Harmon revealed that it wasn’t actually planned that Pierce would become the villainous outcast he turned into by the season’s end, and noted that “improvising storylines like that creates unexpected turns.” “And then I started acting,” cracked Chevy Chase, which caused the entire table break out in laughter.
Asked if there was space for the actors to improvise on set given the tone of the show, Harmon responded that “there’s a lot of improv that happens on the set because there’s so many takes and you just do whatever you want.” Chase added “the issue with a show that’s 23, 24 minutes long is that you can’t really get up and out of your life…but words wise you can so long as you don’t extend it too long.”
Harmon also revealed that even though the cast just went back to work this week, he already has stories for the first six episodes ready and waiting. When asked if we’ll see another paintball episode this season, the show runner was cryptic – but didn’t exactly say no. “We do have those hallways,” Chase reminded Harmon, before adding that they also have nerf swords. Am I the only one rooting for a paint ball nerf sword episode?
Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown & Jim Rash
After congratulating Rash on his series regular promotion, I had to wonder if we were going to see anymore Dalmatians. While he couldn’t say for sure, he did tell me that “hopefully we’ll find out more about the Dean’s personal life at some point.” His comment caused McHale to comment (rather truthfully) “no matter what it is, it’s going to be weird.”
Nicole Brown spoke about the closeness of the cast, despite the fact that none of them knew each other beforehand. “I met Danny at his fitting, so I knew him maybe a month before we started, but only met him, didn’t know him…I met Joel at the table reading.”
When a question came up about the cast understanding the many jokes that make up the show, McHale was quick to respond. “It happens all the time, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t get that one, because the next on you’re going to. The joke rate is so high because of Dan and the writers…it’s just coming at you, so if you don’t get it, then fine, the next one you will.”
Gillian Jacobs & Donald Glover
Could Gillian Jacobs and Donald Glover offer any insight into their Greendale love lives, given the fact that the two shared a smooch in an episode this past season? “I heard some rumblings,” Glover said, before Jacobs chimed in, asking “were they in your own head?” She then went on to explain that “they [the writers] try to keep everything away from us because they don’t trust us…so they try to keep all the really good secrets away from us until the very last minute.” Personally, I was curious if Jacobs was rooting for a Britta/Jeff endgame. “They’re not good for each other right now because they’re totally immature,” she said. “I don’t think either one of them has ever had a healthy relationship in their adult lives, so I don’t know how they’d do that.”
Asked for their most outlandish moment on the show, Glover admitted it had to be when he was covered in orange paint. “I’m trying to text, and my hands are covered in orange paint. And my nipples really hurt!” Jacobs, meanwhile, admitted that the flashback episode would be her pick.
“We were shooting on the Universal back lot, and we basically had from sun up to sun down to get seven different sequences at all these different locations. It was one of those days…it felt like my days in the world of independent film. And then there were tour buses for Universal Studios going through and when we were at the destroyed house that we built for Habitat For Humanity, that’s actually part of the War of the World set, so car alarms go off and steam comes out and then tour buses go through…so you basically have small windows of time to get through the scene before the car alarms start again…so that was weird.”
Community prides itself on strong writing, witty dialogue and amazing pop culture references – but at the end of the day, it all comes down to character, one of the shows strongest facets. And Jacobs agrees. “So many shows on TV, when you’re the girl you’re supposed to be reasonable, you’re supposed to be sensible…and for a girl to be equally absurd, equally wrong, equally immature…is a gift. Girls can be stupid too.”
Greendale will be back in session on September 22, when Community returns for its third season. Based on what’s been rumored to come, I’m more than excited to see what the writers and actors have in store for us.