Q: How similar is your character to yourself?
Well, you know, with any - with any acting role you have to kind of go, “how do I relate to this person” and how do I make this and how do I not and how do I - how do I communicate who this person is on screen. And so I - boy, how is he similar to me? I guess he - this guy - I mean similar to me in that I did everything I could not to, you know, work hard in school because I was much more interested in acting and trying to do that. And I always felt like I was kind of putting in - you know, just kind of clocking time at school until I could get out and do something, you know, an perform. But that’s not the greatest parallel. I mean my - this guy is - he starts off very selfish. I hopefully am not that way. And he cheats and he lies to get what he wants. And I don't really - I have not done a lot of that. But I've - I have - I have cheated in a math class or two. But...Right. I was so bad. I literally had to take a math class in college that was for no credit. It was literally just to get into college while I was already in college. And they were like just - they basically were like look, you’re going to pass. You just don't ever take math again, you moron. So, you know, it’s fun to play a guy who has kind of - he’s kind of - he’s kind of reckless in how he approached life in that he just kind of did what he wanted to do. And people kind of let him get by with it. And this is the first time that he actually has to do work. And it’s a change in his world completely.
Q: How do you think people who are actually in community college are going to view the “Community” depiction of their schools?
I personally think this show will show, that is that this I hope, and in it’s success will do what, you know, “The Office” has done for people who, you know, in the workplace that this will do for what, you know, the six million people that go to community college. And so I kind of see that the backdrop of school is the same way like a bar is a backdrop for “Cheers” and the Korean War was a backdrop for “MASH”. So, you know, in no way is this show going to, you know - it’s not like going to be a show about making fun of community college in any way. But my character will definitely lash out about it because he doesn't want to be there and this group of misfits, this study group that he’s in, slowly kind of shows him that, you know, you can be a human being.
I mean from the nature of, you know, what it is is it’s a character driven show that, you know, takes place at the community college which obviously is in setup is different from the other shows. But as far as - as far as, you know, the format, it’s strong characters in a situation that would be similar to those shows, which, you know, if people will compare us to those, I would be honored...I feel like, you know, hopefully it has the same sort of vibe for Thursday night comedy on NBC and I cannot believe I'm even on that night. I mean it’s so strange to think about it. So let’s hope - let’s hope that it’s different enough that it separates itself and that it’s similar enough that people will tune to it.
Q: What does it feel like to have this great cast and crew behind you right out of the gate?
Oh it’s crazy. It's, you know, it’s a dream come true. It’s something I never imagined. It’s - you know, I feel like, you know, I can really phone in my performances because everyone else is amazing. And no, but, you know, it’s really is ideal because Dan Harmon is such an incredible writer. The Russo brothers who did “Arrested Development” and they’re directing most of the episodes. And then you've got this cast of, you know, from Chevy Chase to John Oliver to Ken Jeong to Jim Rash to everyone in, you know, everybody. I mean it’s really ideal. And I can't, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like yeah, it’s awesome and I'm so excited. That’s kind of like I can't believe it.
"Community" review is after the jump.
“Community” is Cooking Up Great Comedy.
By: Courtney Eckerle
NBC comedy “Community”, starring comedian Joel McHale (“The Soup”) is surprisingly funny, considering the ideals it has pitted itself against. At first glance it looks like the latest installment of “The Office” spin-offs, especially since it premiered right after it on NBC’s exclusive comedy powerhouse Thursday nights (also containing a weekday edition of SNL’s “Weekend Update”, “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock” when it starts up in October) and on second glance...it still kind of looks like that. The surprising part is that it is not a bad thing- a group of quirky misfits who are thrown into a boring environment, stir in some clever dialogue and awkwardness and voilá, comedy fiesta.
“Community” centers around smooth talking (he makes a tear jerking argument that begins, “We’re the only species on Earth that observes Shark Week,”) recently disbarred lawyer Jeff, who has essentially been sentenced to community college if he ever wants his license back. While trying to seduce a Spanish classmate, he accidentally forms a study group from the school’s strangest, where the culture clash archetype works it’s magic for this show. Characters that hail from nearly every stereotype possible- the uptight girl, the washed up jock, the sassy black woman, the smart unattainable girl, the skeezy old man, the kid who can’t control anything he’s saying and the guy who is all too in control of what he’s saying.
With “Arrested Development” alums Joe and Anthony Russo directing a lot of the episodes, the style has a lot of the same dry comedy that needs to simmer for a little while to have it’s full effect, like a background quote by Donald Glover’s character Troy, “I am the Barack Obama of this group!” “Community” also catches several references that are meant to embrace a middle aged demographic with some hilarious “Breakfast Club” and “Dirty Dancing” lines.
There are several outset stars of this stellar ensemble, aside from lead Joel McHale who seamlessly makes the leap from stand up to prime time, and they are John Oliver and Danny Pudi. “The Daily Show” fans will recognize mock correspondent Oliver, who has a small role as a friend of McHale’s character Jeff, as a professor at the college, whom Jeff himself describes as a “spineless British twit,” and he is totally right, that is until he is comically wrong. Danny Pudi’s lanky, loveable Abet has probably twice the dialogue of the other characters and delivers it all with such dead pan sincerity and innocence that his constant chatter becomes hardly noticeable.
The “Community” pilot didn’t totally dazzle, but truly talented comedies rarely do- it’s hard to introduce a whole talented cast in a half an hour show, especially with so much expectation. This quirky combination of all of comedy’s favorites has not earned it’s place among them yet, but is definitely one to keep an eye and ear on. Look for comedy favorite Ken Jeong (“The Hangover”, “Knocked Up” ) in upcoming episodes.
Thursday nights, 9:30/8:30c