'Parks and Recreation': Jerry Gergich, a celebration
In just a few short hours, Parks and Recreation will return to NBC with its fourth season premiere, which means, to borrow a phrase from Leslie Knope, “Yay! Making fun of Jerry is back!” Indeed, one of the many reasons to love this underdog local-government comedy lies in the portrayal of Jerry Gergich (played to resigned perfection by Jim O’Heir*), a human punching bag who has a true talent for botching words (“murinal”), bumbling into trouble (coffee, meet face), and just being the wrong person at the wrong time.
Perhaps it’s little surprise to learn that the Parks department employee who once bent over during a presentation to find his misplaced glasses, only to wind up splitting his pants and farting, serves as prime humor fodder for the show’s writers. “Jim is a very likable actor, so it’s endlessly fun to take a completely inoffensive person and turn them into an object of complete and utter ridicule,” shares executive producer Mike Schur. “More than any other kind of joke, we’ve had to take ‘Jerry is a moron’ jokes out of our scripts because it’s just too easy to write them. If we had allowed every Jerry joke we’ve ever written to be in the script, the show would be called Screw You, Jerry.”
But let us note that Jerry-rigged humor is not one-dimensional — he’s a versatile victim, a nice guy who always finds new ways to finish last. Even when he occasionally shows himself to possess admirable skills — take his magic egg trick, his piano performance, his Centaur painting — a host of forces somehow conspire against him to rob him of any redemption. Equally as impressive, the show manages to make all of its crapping-on-Jerry comedy not seem too mean-spirited. “The original design of the character — which didn’t really come out until we started having people make fun of him — was that he didn’t care about anything except putting his head down and doing his job and getting to the point where he can collect his pension,” says Schur. “He’ll put up with a lot at work because he has this lovely retirement and future laid out in front of him that he’s just crossing off the days on the calendar waiting to get to. He’s married and has a very loving family. His home life is far happier and more fulfilling than anyone else on the show’s — which on some deep psychological level may be why they attack him all the time. “
Truth is, O’Heir doesn’t like playing the willing fall guy — he adores it. “The other day we shot a Jerry scene, and it was one of the tougher ones on Jerry,” says O’Heir. “Amy comes up to me and she goes, ‘Are you okay with that?’ She’s such a mother to us. And I said, ‘Amy, you can’t do enough to Jerry!’… I love all of it!” As do fans. “You should hear the people on the street: ‘Oh my God, what they put you through? We feel so bad, but we can’t help but laugh!’” recounts O’Heir. “I’m like, ‘Laugh away! Absolutely laugh!’ I hear ‘Damn it, Jerry!’ every day somewhere, because Tom is constantly saying that. One guy said his baby’s first swear word was ‘Dammit, Jerry!’ I thought, ‘Wow! If I can get babies cussing up a storm, I’ll take it!’”
Untold misfortunes surely await Jerry this season, and here is the only tease that O’Heir offers for tonight: “There is a big Jerry reveal.” Before you tune in to the episode, titled “I’m Leslie Knope,” do yourself a favor and take a walk down Sadsack Street. Schur and his Parks team were kind enough to provide EW with a detailed list of Jerry jokes — every time he was yelled at, blamed for something, or otherwise embarrassed.
Here’s to you, Jerry. May you never Photoshop your life with better decisions!
(*O’Heir’s three tips for playing Jerry: 1. “Begin everything with, “Oh, geez guys… I’m sorry.” 2. “Give a big smile, and then when the slam comes, a sad frown face.” 3. “Sweater vest.”)
Season 1, Episode 2: “Canvassing”
i. Leslie eats Country Honeysuckle.
LESLIE: Ugh. Oh, that’s bitter.
JERRY: Leslie, you don’t eat it.
LESLIE: Ugh, why did you let me eat that?
JERRY: I never told you to eat that.
LESLIE: Oh, God.
JERRY: Leslie, the animals know you don’t eat the Country Honeysuckle.
LESLIE: I’m not an animal! My tongue is swelling up.
Season 1, Episode 4: “Boys Club”
i. He mentions that Leslie wrote him up for making personal calls to his mother.
JERRY: Last year you wrote me up for making personal calls to my mom.
LESLIE: Yes I did, and I would do it again. Two wrongs do not make a right.
JERRY: Yes, but she was in the hospital.
Season 2, Episode 3: “Beauty Pageant”
i. Leslie got drunk and ordered flowers for the whole staff.
LESLIE: I ordered a beautiful bouquet of daffodils from a website. After a few glasses of wine. So Tom, I think you might be getting some daffodils too. Donna, you’re definitely getting some. Jerry – I don’t know, I’m not sure. Time will tell.
Season 2, Episode 4: “Practice Date”
i. Tom forces Jerry to play a game to dig up each other’s dirt.
JERRY: I’m out.
TOM: Not an option, Jerry. You’re going down.
JERRY: No seriously, I really don’t want to play.
TOM: No, no seriously, you are playing. We’re gonna nail you.
ii. Dave (Louis C.K.) reveals Jerry has had some run-ins with the law.
LESLIE: Hey, guys. What are you guys doing?
APRIL: Trying to see who has the least amount of dirt on them — in case someone wants to run for office.
DAVE: Oh, well it ain’t Jerry, that’s for sure. He’s got a couple of 359’s on him. Public urination.
JERRY: I don’t like this game. I just don’t like it. (leaves room)
DAVE: He’s probably gonna go anger pee in the courtyard.
iii. Jerry finds out he is adopted.
JERRY: Hey, Mark. A little birdie told me that you have one unpaid parking ticket.
MARK: Well that’s funny because a little birdie told me that your adoptive mother was arrested for marijuana possession.
MARK: You didn’t know that, huh?
JERRY: I didn’t know I was adopted.
iv. Tom reveals that Jerry got plastic surgery.
TOM: Jerry! Plastic surgery?
JERRY: I got hit by a fire engine.
v. April makes fun of Jerry for having no friends.
DONNA: You guys will never believe what I just found on Jerry’s Facebook.
APRIL: A friend. Buuuuuuuuurn.
Season 2, Episode 5: “Sister City”
i. Leslie debates whether to keep money donated from the Venezuelans.
LESLIE: Fine, we’ll keep the money, okay? Everybody happy? Jerry, you happy?
JERRY: What did I do?
LESLIE: Meeting adjourned, Jerry.
ii. April, flirting with Johnny, tells Jerry to go away.
JOHNNY: In Venezuela, government internships are coveted positions. You must be very well connected.
APRIL: Yes, I am very powerful and feared by many.
JERRY: Hey, April. Could you help me out…
APRIL: Go away, Jerry!
APRIL: (back to Johnny) See?
Season 2, Episode 6: “Kaboom
i. He uses permanent marker on the dry-erase board.
LESLIE: Jerry, did you use permanent marker again?
JERRY: I’m sorry, guys. I just grabbed it…
LESLIE: Okay, just forget it! Let’s all pretend Jerry wasn’t born! And this is clean.
Season 2, Episode 7: “Greg Pikitis”
i. He upsets Ann by telling Tom about her party.
ii. He walks into the cobweb decorations.
Season 2, Episode 9: “The Camel”
i. He calls his mural a “Murinal.” Leslie disqualifies his impressive piece of art.
LESLIE: Wow, really good Jerry.
JERRY: For my murinal, I was inspired by the death of my grandma.
TOM: (laughs) You said murinal.
JERRY: No, I didn’t.
ANN: Yes you did. You said murinal, I heard it.
APRIL: Jerry, why don’t you put that murinal in the mens’ room so people can murinate all over it?
TOM: Jerry, go to the doctor, you may have a murinary tract infection.
JERRY: I just wanted to show you my art….
JERRY: It’s pointalism. And each dot is a photo of a citizen of the town.
TOM: No one cares. At all.
Season 2, Episode 11: “Tom’s Divorce”
i. He pays Tom a compliment. Everyone’s weirded out by it.
LESLIE: Here’s what I think we should do. Everyone should go around and say one thing that they love about Tom.
JERRY: I’ll start. I really wish I could have your body.
APRIL: Ewww, like tied up, naked in your basement?
JERRY: No. I mean, you’re in good shape and you can eat whatever you want.
LESLIE: Well, that was weird, Jerry.
Season 2, Episode 12: “Christmas Scandal”
i. Leslie instructs everyone to go to the bathroom before they get in their costumes, looking at Jerry.
LESLIE: Everyone’s going to do Santa for two hours, so I would just advise everyone before you get in your costume to go to the bathroom so we can avoid what happened last year.
JERRY: It was just farts.
Season 2, Episode 13: “The Set-Up”
i. When April takes the job to be Ron’s assistant, Jerry is moved to April’s old small desk.
JERRY: I want to talk to Ron about the size of my desk.
APRIL: Jerry, you have to schedule an appointment.
JERRY: How about now?
APRIL: Ron’s not here.
JERRY: He’s right there, I can see him.
Season 2, Episode 14: “Leslie’s House”
i. He doesn’t get invited to her dinner party because he’s boring.
Season 2, Episode 15: “Sweetums”
i. Jerry tries to praise Nutriyum bars.
APRIL: Oh my god, they’re amazing.
JERRY: They’re more than amazing. They are terrific.
APRIL: Terrific’s not more than amazing, Jerry.
JERRY: No? Well, it’s not less.
ii. Tom criticizes Jerry fashion choices.
TOM: Who am I supposed to ask for fashion advice? Jerry? He wears the same soup stained khakis everyday.
iii. Jerry discovers that all the pizza is gone.
JERRY: There’s no pizza left?
TOM: Sorry, Jer, too slow.
ANDY: You want my crust? Here, take this.
JERRY: Nobody even told me the pizza was here. (As he walks away sad, he steps on DJ Roomba and crushes it.)
TOM: JERRY! YOU STEPPED ON DJ ROOMBA!
iv. April and Tom prank Jerry with the Ghost of DJ Roomba.
TOM’S VOICE: Jerry… Jerry…This is the ghost of DJ Roomba… Why did you kill me? … I’m gonna haunt you, Jerry. I’m gonna follow you and play the Black Eyed Peas on a non-stop looooop.”
Season 2, Episode 16: “Galentine’s Day”
i. Leslie says everyone here is terrible at love.
LESLIE: Some of them have been married for half a century. And, no offense, but everybody here is terrible at love. Divorced, dating a gay guy, divorced twice, jury’s still out on you two, and Jerry, who knows?
JERRY: I’ve been happily married for 28 years. You’ve met my wife, Gail, many times.
Season 2, Episode 17: “Woman Of The Year”
i. Donna dumps the mail on Jerry’s lunch. His soup spills.
APRIL: Jerry, you got soup all over our mail! Jerk.
ii. Tom is about to give his presentation.
TOM: Do any of you have pacemakers or a history of epilepsy?
JERRY: “Yes, both.”
TOM: “Anybody? No?”
TOM: (not listening) All right. (Starts presentation.)
iii. Tom kicks Jerry out of the presentation.
TOM: Okay, first come, first serve. Who’s in? Jerry?
JERRY: Geez, Tom. If I spend any more than 25 bucks, I gotta ask my wife.
TOM: Jerry, get out.
Season 2, Episode 19: “Park Safety”
i. Everyone rigs the lottery (nobody puts their names in) so that Jerry has to refill the hummingbird feeders.
LESLIE: I always write my own name… But, just to be safe I do add twenty extra “Jerry’s.”
ii. Everyone makes fun of Jerry for not being in the office.
DONNA: Maybe he fell into the toilet. Remember when he fell into the toilet?
APRIL (imitating Jerry): “Oh sorry, you guys, sorry I’m late. I got confused and took a shower AFTER I got dressed. Because I’m Jerry.”
RON: “David Meyers, the Jewish guy who works at city hall, once told me something. A “schlemiel” is the guy who spills soup at a fancy party. A “schlimazel” is the guy he spills it on. Jerry… is both the schlemiel and schlimazel.”
TOM (imitating Jerry): “And then I put my underwear on my head, instead of my butt!”
iii. Jerry gets mugged (or claims he did).
APRIL: That’s how pathetic Jerry is. He can’t even get karma right.
LESLIE: Jerry’s face is the symbol of failure.
iv.In attempting to give a presentation to the staff, Jerry trips over the power cord, accidentally puts his vacation pictures in the slide projector (revealing that he has a time share in Muncie with his wife), says “twout” instead of “trout” (and then explains “My marbles are full of mouth today”), and then bends down to find his glasses, splits his pants, and farts.
v. It is revealed that Jerry lied about being mugged. He dropped his burrito in the pond and tried to grab it, and awkwardly fell in, hurting himself.
LESLIE (to camera): Damn Jerry! You jumped in a creek for a burrito? What would you do for a Klondike bar — kill your wife?
vi. The tape of Jerry falling into the creek is shown. When he fell, he was also farting. After retrieving the burrito, he continued to eat it.
vii. Jerry spills a peppermint latte all over himself.
APRIL: You should just directly apply the food to your clothes.
LESLIE: Yay! Making fun of Jerry is back!
Season 2, Episode 20: “Summer Catalog”
i. Jerry submits a picture of Morgan the pedophile and reveals they had dinner together.
JERRY: I will photoshop his face.
APRIL: Can you photoshop your life with better decisions, Jerry?
Season 2, Episode 21: “94 Meetings”
i. Saddled with hundreds of meetings, Ron is enlisting everyone to help.
RON: I need anyone with a pulse and a brain to chip in.
JERRY: Ron, do you need help with anything?
RON: No, we’re good, thanks. In fact, you can head home early.
Season 2, Episode 22: “Telethon”
i. Leslie says she’ll need everyone’s help for the late night telethon.
JERRY: No. Leslie, please. Tonight’s kind of a big night. You know. All my kids are away.
TOM: Gross! No! It’s Jerry’s sex night. That ruins sex and tonight.
ii. Jerry’s phone has twenty-five lines; everyone else only has to deal with one.
LESLIE: Congratulations, then. You get the most lines. Figure it out, Jerry.
iii. Jerry does an amazing magic trick, taking an egg out of his mouth. And Leslie breaks the egg, thinking it’s fake. Then, she wants him to do it again, but he doesn’t have a second egg. He starts to say that he plays the piano really well…
LESLIE: Why are you wasting my time?! This is really serious.
iv. Jerry plays the piano beautifully during the telethon.
LESLIE (interrupting): Okay, all right. Okay. Enough of that racket.
Season 2, Episode 24: “Freddy Spaghetti”
i. Leslie asks Jerry if he can lift heavy objects.
JERRY: Ooh. My doctor just said I should avoid…
LESLIE: Being a wuss? Yes. I agree. So go out there and get the equipment out of the truck.
Season 3, Episode 1: “Go Big Or Go Home”
i. Leslie throws Jerry’s painting into the lake.
ii. Leslie storms in and throws Jerry’s coffee in the trash.
iii. Leslie embarrasses Jerry in front of the staff.
LESLIE: My plan is going to change that and bring the budget back. And the answer has been right in front of us the whole time.
APRIL: Ew, check your testicles?
LESLIE: No, not that. Although that is very good advice. I’m looking at you, Jerry.
Season 3, Episode 2: “Flu Season”
i. A sick Leslie licks everything on Jerry’s desk.
Season 3, Episode 3: “Time Capsule”
i. Leslie asks people what they want to put in the time capsule.
JERRY: These are my mother’s diaries. She lived in Pawnee all of her life, and recorded everything she ever did. So it’s kind of like a living document about the town.
TOM: A disappointingly good idea from Jerry.
ii. April reads Jerry’s mom’s journal.
APRIL: “Jerrald starred in his school production of Peter Pan. He was a beautiful Tinkerbell.”
JERRY: It was an all boy’s school…
iii. Jerry screws up the video recording of the meeting, leaving a blank gap in the middle of it.
Season 3, Episode 6: “Indianapolis”
i. Tom extends an invitation to the Snakehole for the Feinstein event.
TOM: Club opens at six. Event starts at nine.
JERRY: No, way too late. I will be deep into my bath by then.
LESLIE: Jerry, god, don’t let us picture that.
Season 3, Episode 7: “Harvest Festival”
i. Jerry and Li’l Sebastian are on the same diabetes medication.
ii. Tom repeatedly blames him for losing Sebastian, even though it was Tom’s fault.
JERRY: Hey, Tom, where’s Li’l Sebastian?
TOM: Somebody left the gate open and he got out, Jerry! (to Leslie) It’s Li’l Sebastian. He’s gone. Jerry let him escape and we don’t know where he is!
iii. When the power goes out, they all blame Jerry for the Ferris Wheel stopping.
RON: All of you be quiet. Andy, she’s mad because you said “awesome sauce” instead of “I love you too.” April, he loves you. Stop being a child. Tom, you’re clearly at fault here. Blaming Jerry won’t save you. Jerry, we both know you were shotgunning funnel cakes instead of watching Li’l Sebastian. So everyone apologize to everyone else.
iv. Jerry farts on the Ferris Wheel.
JERRY: I’m very upset. I get nervous.
v. Jerry gets lost in the corn maze.
Season 3, Episode 8: “Camping”
i. Tom asks what Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Drake have in common.
JERRY: I know this one — they are all rappists.
TOM: They’re rappers, Jerry!
ii. Jerry is fishing with Ron.
JERRY: My daughter might think she’s old enough to be sexually active with her boyfriend, but I’m sorry — 16… that just seems to young to be on birth control. You know, I was 24 when Gayle took my virginity…. You know what I should do? I should lead a teen abstinence workshop.
RON: That might be incredibly effective.
iii. Ron blames Jerry for their lack of food.
RON: We have nothing to eat. Jerry scared all the fish away with his loud personal stories!
iv. Jerry is sitting, petting a cat and enjoying listening to Elsa Clack play the organ as Ben tries to escape.
Season 3, Episode 9: “Fancy Party”
i. April struggles to give Jerry an invite to her dinner party.
ii. Jerry comes to the party in the new “Party Shirt” that Gayle bought for him.
TOM: You know what, I make fun of you a lot, but credit where credit is due. I like how the– (laughs hysterically) Dammit, I was so close! It’s a terrible shirt!
iii. Andy asks everybody to be his best man, and when he gets to Jerry….
ANDY: So glad you made it, this shirt is hilarious.
Season 3, Episode 11: “Jerry’s Painting”
i. Jerry paints a stunning painting of a topless female Centaur, the Greek goddess Dyaphena, and the woman looks like Leslie.
TOM: That’s what you see when you close your eyes at night, Jerry! Topless Leslie, glued to a horse!
ii. Also, the cherub in the painting resembles Tom.
TOM: What the hell, Jerry! Look at my potbelly, I look like a pregnant baby!
TOM: In one brushstroke, Jerry has killed the Jay-Z vibe that’s taken me years to cultivate, and replaced it with a fat brown baby vibe. Which is not as cool of a vibe.
iii. Jerry asks if he should attend the meeting with Chris.
LESLIE: This isn’t about you, Jerry.
JERRY (sadly): It’s my painting.
iv. Jerry thanks Leslie for defending his beautiful painting.
LESLIE: Stand down, Jerry. This isn’t your fight.
v. When Tom tries to hit on Brandi Maxxxx, the porn star, she recognizes him as the “fat baby” from the painting. Tom shakes his head and says: “Dammit, Jerry…”
vi. Jerry makes the point to Leslie that surrendering the painting seems like something he would do.
vii. Tom loves the new painting Jerry did, depicting him as the Centaur. But then Andy asks where the penis is.
APRIL: Yeah, where’s your Penis?
TOM: Dammit, Jerry!
viii. Leslie and Tom speak to Gayle to reassure her that nothing is going on.
TOM: “I promise you, hun, Jerry only has eyes for you…and pound cake, am I right?!?”
Season 3, Episode 13: “The Fight”
i. Tom assigns Jerry a role in the guerrilla marketing sketch.
TOM: Jerry, you’ll be playing a boring beer drinker — your name will be “Jerry.”
ii. When Donna drive home everyone who is drunk, Jerry is put on the roof.
Season 3, Episode 14: “Road Trip”
i. Jerry tells Tom that his game show, Know Ya Boo, sounds like The Newlywed Game.
TOM: Shut up, Jerry! It’s not The Newlywed Game!
Season 3, Episode 15: “The Bubble”
i. Chris tries to give Jerry a pep talk.
CHRIS: Jerry, I believe you are capable of much more.
JERRY: I’m not.
ii. Jerry asks April for the report he assigned her, and she hands him a piece of paper that says: “You are going to fail.”
Season 3, Episode 16: “Li’l Sebastian”
i. Leslie mistakenly hands a note for Ben to Jerry and he reads it out loud.
JERRY: Mine says “You have a cute butt.”
LESLIE: That’s weird. Must be a typo.
APRIL: Yeah, Jerry, it should say you have a cube butt.
TOM (laughing hysterically): ’Cause your butt’s shaped like a cube!
JERRY: Why is my memo different than everyone else’s?
To deflect attention, Leslie starts chanting “Cube butt!”
ii. Tom asks Jerry about his color samples.
JERRY: They’re all black.
TOM: Maybe to the layman, Jerry. Maybe to the layman, Jerry. Obsidian, Onyx, Midnight, Lost Soul, Rolling Blackout, Sleeping Panther, and Void by Armani. (Holds up red tie.) Hey, Jerry, does this look black to you too?
iii. Leslie tasks Jerry with picking up the propane.
JERRY: But what about my poem?
LESLIE: Nobody wants you to read a poem. Okay, Jerry! What everyone wants, what L’il Sebastian wants, is for you to get propane.
iv. Instead of propane, Jerry gets a big can of lighter fluid and causes an explosion that burns off Ron’s eyebrows.
Parks and Recreation