Danny Pudi opens up about Dan Harmon, new season of ‘Community’ (Laughspin Interview)

By | October 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm | No comments | Interviews, News, TV/Movies | Tags: , , , , ,

In lieu of the standard interview intro, this one’s going to start out with a big fat editor’s note from me, Dylan Gadino. Our writer, Carrie Andersen conducted this chat with Danny in late September, a few weeks before Community was set to debut its fourth season on NBC. As I’m sure you know, said network has pushed the premiere date to…no one knows! The plan was to hold this feature until just before Oct. 19 to get you all excited about the new season of Community. But, well, um, there is no new season of Community. Yet.

And then on Friday, NBC released a hilarious video starring Pudi and the rest of the cast making light of the nebulous nature of the show’s status. So, it made sense to post this now, because Carrie got some great stuff from Danny about not working with ousted show creator and executive producer Dan Harmon and about what viewers can expect from the new season, once it does air. Finally, I should note the interview was done as Danny’s “Handle It” campaign for Speed Stick was coming to a close– which is where we begin. Enjoy!

I want to ask about this contest that you were a part of. How did it pan out? Were there any particularly hilarious or awkward moments that stick out?
Yeah, there were a lot of funny ones. For Speed Stick, we asked guys to submit “Handle It” moments, which were uncomfortable, awkward situations that they were able to turn into their favorites and keep cool under pressure. We got a lot of funny responses. One gentleman told us about tripping and seeing these three really hot girls, and as he was falling down, he managed to in slow motion give them finger guns in slow motion, and then turn his fall into a worm. I thought that was really impressive, something I’d like to see live.

Yeah, wow.
I’m hoping he does a one man show where he just does that on repeat. Another person told us about how he threw a Frisbee on the beach and hit a lady in the head, and then turned to a little boy next to him, pointed at him, and blamed him. Sad for the little boy, but awesome to see live. I hope the lady wasn’t hurt by the Frisbee.

The winning video was a gentleman who told us a story where he was doing some laundry, and he didn’t read all the care instructions for his girlfriend’s laundry, so he shrunk her outfit. She walked in on him, of course, and discovered the outfit was shrunk. He convinced her it was actually a good thing, so he was rewarded in a video that we made and I play the inner monologue, his voiceover. That’s out on their YouTube page. You can also check out their Twitter account (@speedstick) to get some more examples of “Handle It” moments. More than anything, it makes me feel better about my uncomfortable life.

I think we can all relate to that.
Right? I’ve been changing a lot of diapers lately, I’m kind of in my own world, so I needed to feel good about myself.

Oh, I’m sure! That sounds like a lot of fun.
Oh, it’s a great time.

So now that it’s fall, the return of Community is imminent. I’m curious if you have any thoughts about what viewers can look for once the show kicks off in a few weeks.
Yes. Adventures, excitement, jokes. Senior year pranks. Let’s see here. The Hunger Games, Inspector Spacetime conventions, great guest stars including Malcolm McDowell, Tricia Helfer, Matt Lucas, James Brolin, and more. A fantastic Halloween episode with pretty amazing costumes. Troy and Abed’s costume, a tandem costume, is going to be a fan favorite. We’re back! I’m excited for people to see what we have in store.

You’re taking on The Hunger Games? That’s a pretty big franchise to deal with. I’m guessing it’s a parody of some kind?
I don’t even know if it’s a parody. We just rent it. We see how The Hunger Games affects Greendale. I wouldn’t dwell on it, it’s not much deeper than that. But I think there have been some pictures that have come out online about how it’s influenced Greendale. People should take a look at that.

Awesome. So we left off last season with the hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie. What do you think about a Community movie? Would it be a good idea, or is the narrative that the show has going on better suited to a TV show?
I don’t know. I think a movie would fit wonderfully in this world because the one great thing about our show, and the characters on the show, is that whatever we do, and whatever mission we’re on that particular week, we all approach it full throttle. Whether that’s a paintball episode or an Apollo 13 space bust episode, we do know that everyone’s in it 150 percent. So I’d be curious to see what movie we’d take on, if it were an Ocean’s 11 kind of caper or whatever it is. I think that’d be fun to see in a feature length mission. That being said, I think that another great thing about our show is that week to week, it changes greatly based on whatever is urgent in that moment. Six seasons and a movie would be great.

Yeah, plus you guys have so many avid fans who have been advocating for you out of love.
Yeah, I think the fans are the ones who have kept our show afloat. I don’t think it’s any secret that our show has struggled for ratings, and it’s not a huge hit that is must-see TV, or that’s going to be on the air forever. People know that our show isn’t going to be on forever. I think fans really appreciate it because it is a very specific show that is doing something different. For me as an actor, I love it. I love being on a show where I’m surprised week to week when I read the script. I can’t wait for our table reads because I never know what to expect. I never know what Abed’s going to say. That, to me, is what makes our show special.

I think our fans have latched onto that like at Comic Con. There was [also] a great art show in Los Angeles this year, the Six Seasons and a Movie art show, it was just incredible to see the pieces that were submitted that really show the love and appreciation that these fans have for this specific world that’s been created at Greendale. It’s testament to Dan Harmon, the writers, the director, and the cast for being able to connect with people in a new way.

You mentioned Dan Harmon. The big elephant in the room about Community this season is that it’s the first season where his presence isn’t as dominant as it’s been in previous seasons, now that he’s gone. How has his absence affected the vibe of the show?
It has affected the show. I think it’s like with any job, if your boss is there one minute, the person who hired you is there one minute, and then the next he isn’t there, things are going to be different. They are. For me, I’m very thankful for Dan Harmon and what he provided me, because, especially with Abed, I think showing a character that has a very unique voice and not taking it for granted and really gave him a sense of value. I think in the pilot alone, one of the first things that he says is, “I see your value now,” to Jeff Winger, the lead character. They both see each other’s value. I think that being stated in the first episode – right away, I knew the show was going to be different, that it was going to be special.

A lot of that, I think we owe Dan Harmon for creating that. So it is different. He’s gone now, and at the same time, we don’t see the writers very often. We don’t have a very involved relationship with them in terms of direct contact. They typically write the scripts, we get them, and we act them out. Now we have new writers. I think the biggest thing is that they have to get up to speed a bit with just getting to know us. And that’s just something that takes time with anybody. It’s us getting used to the new writers and the writers getting used to the new actors, or the actors, because we’re all trying to work towards the same thing. In terms of the spirit of the show, that’s there. The cast is all here. We’re all very, very big fans of the show itself. I can tell people we’re, more than anyone, we want the show to be what the show is. I’m excited to see the new writers’ spin on the show.

For sure. I imagine filming a primetime TV show keeps you pretty busy, too. Are there other projects that you’re working on or thinking about working on?
Well, beyond the Speed Stick campaign, which was a nice project to work on during the hiatus, besides that, I shot a movie during the summer as well, in Europe, My Friend Vijay. I believe that’ll be out next summer. That was an interesting experience, working on a German comedy with actors whose first language was not English, and so it made me feel inadequate. I was the only one there who didn’t speak German or French. That was a challenge but really exciting. Beyond that, my wife and I just had twins, so most of my life has been spent changing diapers and trying to memorize the lyrics to Humpty Dumpty, and that kind of thing.

That’s exciting, congrats!
Thank you very much! It’s been very cool, it’s been exciting.

You can follow Danny on Twitter at @DannyPudi.

Photo by Sally Blood

About the Author

Carrie Andersen

In addition to writing for Laughspin, Carrie is a graduate student in Austin, Texas, where she researches popular culture, new media, music, and social movements. When not reading or writing in any official capacity, she spends her time playing the drums, watching crappy TV, and eating copious amounts of tacos and barbecue. She also blogs sporadically at carrieandersen.com.