Community’s coming back. You probably know this. You have the Internet. Its return on March 15th has become unavoidable information, like the ending of the eighth season of “Dallas” (all a dream), “Citizen Kane” (sled), and how everyone dies on that unaired episode of “Work It” (drawn and quartered).
But information on the rest of Season 3 is, somehow, a little sparse. We also figured we needed to create as much artificial buzz for this show as is humanly possible. We decided to call Danny Pudi about it. We needed our Abed fix, if only on the phone, but we used the excuse to talk about the “Community” animated series. (It debuted last week.) We outlined how to sell Community to a rugged, old farmer. And we got his favorite TV shows of all time down on paper at the end of it, too.
(You can check out Danny Pudi’s playlist here.)
By the time he hung up, we had a new name for the animated series, an ode to a weird British TV show you’ve never heard of, and a very convinced farmer.
On his baby twins:
Pudi: If he goes crazy (during this interview), it’s not me crying. Well, it might be. Just ask.
On The TODAY Show, which he can watch because he’s up early enough now:
I’m apparently that guy trying to figure out what has more calories—a salad or a pizza.
On being drawn as a cartoon character.
It’s always a little cool to see, and it’s also a little terrifying. Because when you get that email that says, “Here’s the visual take on you waiting for approval. Let us know what you think,” you’re like, “What do people really think of me?” Because sometimes it takes an animated sketch to see what people feel about certain attributes of you. But it’s fun. Sometimes I think, “Aw, they think I’m a little, brown elf!”
I think that’s the alternate title of our show: “Little Brown Elves.”
But that’s always really cool, whether it’s this animated show or fan fiction of this drawing of you.
On how he was approached about the animated series.
We were approached shortly after the show was put on hiatus. But they assured us that the show would be coming back at some point, so we’ve been shooting this whole time. I mean, up until about a week ago—we just finished our season (of the live-action “Community”). Actually, most of the time—the last twelve episodes—we weren’t really sure when or if we were going to be back on the air, so it was sort of a weird feeling. But these sort of things gave us hope, you know?
Hulu and Sony approached us about doing these animated shorts, a three-part series, because anytime our show is animated, we have a lot of fun with it. Like the claymation episodes from Season 1 and Season 2, and even the anime that was briefly seen this year. So it’s a great way to get creative and see what else we can get away with at Greendale.
About how this fits into the “Community” canon (unlike, say, “Grey’s Anatomy’s” musical episode).
I will say that that was the first time our show has been compared to “Grey’s Anatomy.” But, yeah, it’s definitely within the show’s tone. Plus, I think most people think we’re already animated. I have some relatives that think we are a cartoon, so this fits perfectly into our world. If anything, I think it gave us a little bit of excitement. It gave us something to do for our return on March 15th. It’s just fun to see people excited that we’re going back on the air.
On managing fatherhood at home with playing an ADD college student on TV.
I think that’s why I love the show so much because I get to live in both worlds. I think that’s the tough thing about this. I think people say, “We all want to have children, but we all want to be children.” And that’s what I get to do every week.
I think that’s what makes our show so fun. We’re able to live out these fantasies every week. We get these blanket forts and pillow forts and paintball fights and I fight zombies. Then I get home, and I’m doused in milk and urine from my babies. So I’m living a very full life right now.
Give a pitch for a 70-year-old man who drives a tractor to watch the return of Community on Thursday.
I’ll say our shows deal with humanity and human relationships in that different people come together for a single purpose more than any other show on television. That’s what we do best. I think the diverse view in our study group and all the wacky adventures that we go on only work because at the core they are grounded by real people who are struggling to fit in a group, but also struggling to figure out who they are in the world.
I think that’s the fun thing about our show. If you look at the situation these people are going through on paper, it could be interpreted as incredibly sad. But when you watch the show, it comes off as really funny. I think a lot of great comedy comes from places that are really, really honest. And I think this show is.
If you look at Abed, he comes from a very interesting home with a mother who has left the house and he’s now with his father. His father doesn’t really understand his son and I’m just trying to come back to study film at this community college. If you look at Winger, he’s a guy who’s at community college trying to get his life back because he lost his degree. He’s afraid of intimacy
A lot of these characters are really going through things. They’re hitting each other in these monumental times in their lives. They’re trying to figure out their roles are in the world. At the same time, they’re not afraid to be who they are.
I think there’s a character for you if you drive a tractor or draw comic books or cut hair.
So, Danny, you get to take over Hulu for a day. What do you show off?
No Reservations - I just love that show. It’s a shift from what I’m doing. It’s just fun for me. I’m a huge fan of traveling and food and watching someone like him go into these hostile environments and places where he’s unfamiliar and still be himself with others and different cultures. It’s fun for me to watch. He’s got a rock-and-roll perspective on travel.
He should have an Alec Baldwin-esque class about eye contact for traveling—his “How to Say Something Without Saying Anything.”
But I’m a total nerd. My wife and I travel and if there happens to be an episode where Anthony Bourdain has recently been in that city, I’ll make sure there’s one or two pit stops that we go where Anthony Bourdain went.
Battlestar Galactica – I don’t think I’ve seen something, drama-wise, that’s impacted me more than that. Just their ability to sustain and heighten drama constantly. There was an episode called “33,” where every 33 minutes they were being attacked. So that just blew me away. That was my No. 1.
Arrested Development – It’s what I go back to frequently, at least in terms of comedy and ensemble. Those two hit me in a time in my life where I could watch those episodes entirely standing up.
Saturday Night Live and Monty Python – Those two worlds were huge for me. I used to watch with my brother and his friends. I didn’t fully get things, at the time, but I just liked to watch how much fun these people were having and how creative they were. That’s what really drew me into comedy.
Garth Marenghi’s Dark Places - It’s so sharp. It’s so fast. That’s one I highly recommend. I look to it almost like a guidebook in comedic timing. It’s really creative.
It’s so strange. It’s one of those things that if my wife comes home and sees me watching it, I’ll immediately click off and she’ll think I’m watching porn. But it wasn’t porn. If you like “Spaced,” you’ll like it.
Best SNL Castmember – A sleeper is probably Bill Hader. Kristen Wiig is amazing. I’d take her as the best castmember right now.
In the past? I would take: Mike Myers.
Alf – I’m gonna go with Alf. Immediately when I think of Alf, I think of sitting at home in my living room with my siblings watching it. To me, it’s nostalgia. I think I successfully convinced a few of my friends in grade school that I was an alien. I’m hopeful that I still am an alien.
About what it’s like having an Alf doll in your house out of context.
If it wasn’t a show, it would be a terrifying thing. You would be interrogated right now by the Department of Homeland Security. “What are you doing with that doll? It’s creepy. It’s scarier than Chucky.”