Credit: Paul Drinkwater/ NBC
McHale is the king of snark, which made him the perfect choice for prickly, self-obsessed Jeff Winger. But here's the surprise: As Jeff continued to…

Invite Danny Pudi, who plays the frenetic, socially awkward aspiring filmmaker Abed on NBC’s Community (now Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET), into your office, and, for a moment, it’s like the Gilmore Girls and Greek alum (who was the first recipient of the Chris Farley Scholarship at Marquette University) is doing a Keyser Söze sketch. “Pandas will love Community,” he says after spotting the stuffed animal behind you. (Don’t ask.) “We have an Asian Spanish teacher [Ken Jeong as Señor Chang], and pandas love Asians because they’re in China and they’re protected there.” But like Abed, Pudi is observant and just wants to connect. He’ll say whatever’s on his mind (“Sarah Michelle Gellar, gorgeous,” as he looks at a framed EW cover, “Is that a pillow hamburger?” as he spies yes, a pillow hamburger, and “Is that Showgirls the board game?” as he eyes the DVD VIP Edition); he’ll touch whatever he can get his hands on (a panic button that came with a screener of TBS’ 10 Items or Less). What else do he and Abed have in common:

• They are both movie buffs. Pudi’s not gonna quote lines like Abed, but as a kid growing up in Chicago, he’d rent Police Academy (1 to 5), American Ninja (1 and 2), The Delta Force or anything starring Chuck Norris, and Steven Seagal’s oeuvre. “I love the fact that there’s three word titles — Out for Justice, Above the Law — and that he beats the crap out of everyone. Things I could never do.”

• They both have a strong appreciation for Chevy Chase. Abed loves ’80s films, and “I grew up with him in Caddyshack. I always pictured myself as Danny the Caddy. My name’s Danny. I thought I was his caddy,” Pudi says. “I feel like I’m in a work-study program. Like I’m an intern and after I do a good take, I’m like ‘How did I do, boss?’ Then we drink coffee, and the whole time in my head, I’m like, I’m drinking coffee with Chevy Chase. And then we’ll walk and go to the bathroom, and I’ll be like, I just went to the bathroom next to Chevy Chase. And then we’ll go eat carrots — we eat vegetables all the time — and I’ll be like, Ohmygosh, I’m eating jicama with Chevy Chase. How many people can say they’ve eaten jicama with Chevy Chase? I have! I have! I’ve done that.”

• They both have their neuroses. Pudi collects lip balm, and is confident that Abed will love it, too. “Right now, I am into sweet almond Lip Protector,” he says, taking two tubes out of his pocket. “Almonds are a superfood, and I’m into superfood. It’s also got SPF, in case you’re worried about your lips burning off. ‘Cause that happens. It’s got a nice subtle flavor. If I enjoy that flavor too much, this Lip Saver comes in. It’s a little bit less tasty, and it’s a little bit thicker, gooier. The good thing about the Lip Saver is, if you put it on you are fine for a good 40 minutes. The Lip Protector you need to put on like every 15 to 20 minutes, especially if you’re talking a lot. Which [laughs] I don’t have any experience with.” Also, he says, “When I go to the gas station, the amount of gallons and the price have to end on something that is numerically interesting. Like if the gallons is 131, something symmetrical like a 262 is awesome. Or 555, because then I’ll be like 131 is five total. So it’s five on top, and then three fives on the bottom. That’s okay. But if it’s 484 and then 612, I’m like, ‘I need more gas.’ That’s weird, but it’s true. I do it, and I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I’ll be like, why am I still trying to get a little drop of gas? Then I’ll get it, and I’ll be like Yes! Then someone will look over and be like, ‘You are freakin’ insane.’ And I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, but I got a full tank of gas, and mentally I’m fine for like the next 15 minutes until I need lip balm.'”

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Photo credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

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