'Community' stars explain how to save their show
If you’re a Community fan, you probably already know that show was unceremoniously yanked from NBC’s midseason lineup. I know, I know — and they were this close to regionals! Still, the harsh realities of our bleak, Community-less existence should be peppered with hope for a better tomorrow — the grim peacock hasn’t swung the ax just yet.
Ever optimists, the members of Greendale’s hottest study group (sans Chevy Chase and Donald Glover) gathered at the SAG Foundation Actors Center in Los Angeles last Sunday to give advice and tell behind-the-scenes tales to fellow actors, discussing everything from lame inside jokes (“We run around saying ‘kern kern’. No one knows what we’re talking about. The origin story of that was Chevy couldn’t say kettle corn.” — Joel McHale) to the unlikely beginnings of Troy and Abed (“Originally, [showrunner] Dan Harmon thought it would be a Troy and Pierce Beavis and Butthead thing.” — Gillian Jacobs).
And while the biggest shock of the night came when Danny Pudi admitted that he had never seen Cougar Town before shooting Critical Film Studies, the cast did manage to squeeze in some truly horrifying before-they-were-famous audition stories, as well as some foolproof tips on how to keep the struggling show alive.
On their worst audition ever:
JIM RASH: I remember going to an audition for a movie you probably saw. Matt LeBlanc in Ed — a movie about a monkey who plays second base. They were already shooting; all they needed was someone to come in to do this physical bit. [The producers said] the monkey slides into second base, and then pulls your pants down. I thought they were joking, but then they said they were looking for people who had gone to clown college, which I had not. They needed you to pretend like it was happening, and then they would CGI the monkey pulling your pants down. I felt like I was being punked.
ALISON BRIE: My worst audition haunts me, because of this producer who was holding it. When I hear his name I’m like the kid in Ransom. I pee my pants. I went in, and I was feeling super-confident. We go on, and it was this kind of couch-against-couch setup. The guy’s like, “Do you have your resume?” And I was like, “Here. It’s spectacular!” I was clearly joking, because I had nothing of note on my resume. That guy, he just immediately was like, (deadpans) “Oh. It’s spectacular. Gosh, you really think a lot about yourself, don’t you? You think really highly of yourself.” It was the last way that I meant it at all. So we sat there uncomfortably for a few minutes that felt like ages. Then he was like, “Well, are you going to do the scene?” So I stood up and did the scene, and I was shaking. Then I finished it and he was like, “Who do you think this character is?” I was like, “Oh, I think she’s a strong woman. She’s independent, she works in this atmosphere with all of these men…” And he was like, “Oh. And is that what you think you just showed me right now?” I was so nervous. I left and cried in my car.
DANNY PUDI: I was auditioning for this play. I auditioned at the theater, but then the director left town. She was still casting, and she wanted to see me again, but the only way she could see me was on Skype. I didn’t have Skype. So, I go to the Apple Store, and I ask one of the guys, “Can you help me out? I need to do this thing on Skype.” Thankfully, he was an actor too. So he sets me up, and [the director] was in Massachusetts like, “Okay, I’m just going to have you do this monologue.” I had to do it over and over again, and meanwhile other people are popping over to look at the camera. I left there so deflated. I did it like five times, and I had to give it my all. I was in the Apple Store! I didn’t even purchase a product — I was so full of guilt. But I did get the play.
On how to save Community:
YVETTE NICOLE BROWN: Nielsen boxes, brother. Nielsen boxes. There’s online petitions you could sign. I think even watching Hulu helps a little, but it doesn’t help the ratings. It lets them know in some way that people are watching. Keep talking about it, and tweeting about it, and Facebooking about it.
GILLIAN JACOBS: You know, I had a thought. I was musing about this. I don’t think it would hurt if our DVD sales went through the roof. So, if you’re looking for Christmas or holiday gifts, we have a lot of special features. Every episode has featurettes, like cast evaluations by Dan Harmon, where he tells us how we’re failing.
JOEL McHALE: Our ratings jump when you see the TiVo numbers, but the problem is that our audience is very young, and nobody views television [live] anymore. They watch online. There is no way to monetize that yet, other than iTunes. And you can watch [Community] on Hulu. Our catch-22 is that we know we have a lot of fans, because they’re all over the Internet. But young people don’t go, “Oh, my show’s on, see you!” No one runs home to watch television. Just keep the chatter going.