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Community Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is a transcript of an interview with Danny Pudi (Abed) and Alison Brie (Annie) on February 17, 2011 about the NBC television series Community.

Alison Brie:
In the upcoming the school is running elections for student body president. Essentially Joe Biden is coming to the campus. And so the Dean is frantically trying to assemble some sort of student government. And of course Annie is super excited to run for president. And when Jeff kind of fails to help her she gets upset at him and he runs to spite her. So they get into a bit of a battle for the position of president. And meanwhile Abed has noticed the secret service. And I would say the secret service is also noticing Abed, wouldn't you say so Danny?

Danny Pudi:
I would say so Alison. Thanks for saying so. Yes Abed's storyline is that he is doing two things actually. He is broadcasting live the election results as part of GCTV so that was fun because I got to play a news anchor for a little bit. And I've always been really attracted to female news anchors.

Alison Brie:
And he's really good at it. And he kind of looks like a female news anchor.

Danny Pudi:
So Abed is along with Troy broadcasting live the news and the election results. But at the same time he notices that CIA is all around campus. And it is - what can I say about that? It gets interesting. It becomes an interesting noticing versus noticing session.

Alison Brie:
Yhe cool thing about shooting this episode was I think at first we thought it was going to be very similar to the debate episode from last season which also featured Annie and Jeff. And then as we were shooting and as we were kind of getting rewrites to the script we realized that it really was more of a political satire.

Danny Pudi:
We have a lot of really great candidates as you can imagine to choose from, from the student body. I think it comes down to eight finalists.

Alison Brie:
Yes I think so and there are some new players from the community lanDISCape. And there are some familiar faces like Star-burns and Leonard.

Question:
When are we finally going to get some resolution on the big B&L debate?

Alison Brie:
I don't know how soon that is going to be resolved. Jeff is really at odds with the group on that one.

Danny Pudi:
This is a clear like difference between the group and Jeff. This is at the top of our list of differences between the group and Jeff.

Alison Brie:
There is no gray area. It is black and white.

Danny Pudi:
It's black and white.

Question:
And Alison, how close did you get to kissing Gillian at the end of last week?

Alison Brie:
It was such a funny thing because it wasn't in the script. We just sort of like kind improviseed it when we were doing it. And Joe Russo, one of our producers, was there. And he was like, "that's so great. I'll just yell kiss her and then you guys do that." And everyone behind the monitor was like yes. It was clearly a bunch of dudes.

Danny Pudi:
It was crazy that we were all so competitive about that. It was crazy to see that actually end up in an episode too because we were so excited about it.

Alison Brie:
I couldn't believe they kept it in to be honest. But I have to say we really didn't get that close to kissing. I think we actually got closer to kissing in a photograph that one of our writers posted on Twitter. So it was like behind the scenes on set gets a bit more racy than our on camera work.

Question:
In next week's episode, does the political satire lend itself to any meta movie or TV references?

Alison Brie:
You know, honestly I felt like we were actually basing it more on real life and coverage of actual political events. And, you know, there's a bit of Hillary Clinton I think to what Annie is doing and maybe even some Bill Clinton to what Jeff is doing in the thing. So we tried to keep it pretty political.

Danny Pudi:
And I play Chelsea Clinton.

Alison Brie:
Yes which is great. His hair is super curly.

Danny Pudi:
It's as topical as we get I guess, you know, in terms of like exploring current political issues but as far as references, I think there are also a sprinkling of some good references. I know in my story with one of the CIA agents there is a sort of common bond.

Question:
Going back to the television and movie references we were just talking about, have you ever been in a situation where it's been in your lines and you just have no idea what the reference is to?

Alison Brie:
Yes that's what's happened in what we're shooting this week. Shirley says a line and sort of in secret I turn to Danny after we didthe scene. I was like Danny, what does that line mean?

Danny Pudi:
And I was like no idea, have never had an idea.

Alison Brie:
So then we turned to Gillian. We're like Gillian what does the line mean? Of course she knew immediately.

Danny Pudi:
She did, yes.

Alison Brie:
So that was good. I think between all of us there's always someone who's going to know. And then there's this little thing called Google. So I think we have some help all around. don't think any of us ever look to Dan and ask. We don't want him to know that we don't know.

Danny Pudi:
The good thing is that we have such a great collective ensemble. Someone's always around who probably has an idea of what's going on. So it's just a matter of turning your head enough times and eventually someone will tell you what you're talking about.

Question:
There's this fantastic chemistry on screen between everybody. How well do you actually get along once the camera stops rolling?

Danny Pudi:
We've been working on this bit and so we'll do it for you but you guys are going to have to visualize it. You ready?

Alison Brie:
How can they know that they're imagining me dancing?

Danny Pudi:
Talk them through your dance mode.

Alison Brie:
But it's improv. It's different every time.

Danny Pudi:
Forget it. We have great chemistry. You know, make each other laugh and we play.

Alison Brie:
We do. We play very non-descript child-like games that we come up with on the spot. Somebody asked me whenever people ask like oh what's that game like they'll see us having a lot of fun it'd be like what's that game? Tell me the rules. I want to play. And when we explain it to them they're just like that is nothing.

Danny Pudi:
Right. We have a game right now called I'm better, I'm good. Now this game sounds complicated right away doesn't it?

Alison Brie:
It's basically just Danny and I but the other members of the group always want to get in on the action. And then when they ask us about it they're like that's the most boring thing I've ever heard.

Danny Pudi:
Yes all you have to do is say I'm good and I'm better...

Alison Brie:
Before the other person says it.

Danny Pudi:
And then you get an hour of where mo person can say that. It feels really good to win that game.

Alison Brie:
It actually does.

Danny Pudi:
And now we've kind of win that game by writing it on plates.

Alison Brie:
Yes we leave each other notes. We like sneak into each other's trailers.

Danny Pudi:
We'll bring each other a coffee or a tea and on it we'll write I'm good.

Alison Brie:
Yes. We take it to new levels. We'll text it to each other like when we're on break from the show.

Danny Pudi:
It's a real complicated game but you could spread it if you guys want, share it.

Question:
If Alison and Danny, not Annie and Abed, had to vote in the student body elections would you vote for Annie, Jeff, Leonard or Star-burns?

Danny Pudi:
Oh Star-burns.

Alison Brie:
I would vote for Annie. She would be the best. I'm not just saying this because I play Annie on television.

Danny Pudi:
But why are you saying that?

Alison Brie:
Because she's the smartest. And she cares the most about the people.

Danny Pudi:
She does, I'll agree with that.

Alison Brie:
And works the hardest.

Danny Pudi:
Okay I will say this. If we want Greendale to get better, if we want to make sure it's getting better and growing and taken care of and the garbage is always taken out and the inspections are up to date it's definitely Annie, definitely Annie.

Alison Brie:
True.

Danny Pudi:
Definitely Annie.

Alison Brie:
But if you just want sheer entertainment...

Danny Pudi:
Antics? Oh I guess, yes with Star-burns there'd probably be one episode left because Greendale will probably fall apart immediately. I guess what we meant is that we don't want Jeff to be president.

Alison Brie:
We don't even mention it, clearly not.

Danny Pudi:
I just want to say this thing publicly right now. I think Alison's really mad at me but I didn't say that she should be president.

Alison Brie:
I'm not. Look Danny, it's not about Alison the person. I'm thinking about myself in third person just to tell you that.

Question:
Chicago's Mayoral election's coming up soon and their motto is about early but often. What is the motto in Greendale?

Danny Pudi:
Vote.

Alison Brie:
Vote seldom for things that don't totally exist.

Danny Pudi:
Yes the motto is definitely too long at Greendale.

Alison Brie:
Did you say the motto is too long?

Danny Pudi:
Yes.

Alison Brie:
What do you mean? My motto that I just said is too long?

Danny Pudi:
Too long, too long, right above our E pluribus anus flag.

Question:
Do you think that Annie is the Rahm Emanuel of the Greendale candidates?

Danny Pudi:
Can you prove residence in Greendale county?

Alison Brie:
Yes.

Danny Pudi:
Okay then you're fine. I'll vote for her.

Question:
Alison, do you think Annie is she cut-throat enough to win an election like this?

Alison Brie:
Absolutely. Have you met Annie? One thing about Annie, she's got a lot of perseverance. I wouldn't put it past her. She's - she definitely has the cut-throat attitude. I think even last year in our episode when Jack Black was on the show and Annie was trying to get ahead and she was going to break this amazing news story you see flashes all the time of her really, you know, really wanting to do anything to kind of get ahead. And she still has heart..

Danny Pudi:
Oh she definitely has heart. But she's driven.

Question:
Is Abed trying to make the secret service laugh in the episode?

Danny Pudi:
There's a little bit of that. I don't know about laugh but I think there is a certain amount of Abed trying to engage and actually engaging very much in a different kind of way with the CIA agent. And he has this sort of side adventure which I like. It continues this sort of trend of Abed having these little side adventures where people are like what have you been doing all episode, delivering a baby.

Alison Brie:
Not everybody knows Abed. We just do this glimpse of him. But really he's lived a multi-faceted life.

Danny Pudi:
Yes he sort of lives this other secret life. And I think it actually is a really fun little secret story that he has going on with this other secret agent. There's secrets. I just said secret a lot.

Alison Brie:
If there was a spin-off show about Abed the story in this episode it would just be called...

Danny Pudi:
Secrets.

Alison Brie:
Secretos.

Question:
Could you take ten minutes later, go to your Twitters and tweet using only song lyrics and try to have it be a conversation with lyrics?

Alison Brie:
So we will tweet only to each other and we'll just keep responding in song lyrics?

Question:
Correct and you try and make it be like a conversation and we'll judge your musical taste too.

Danny Pudi:
We will try to do the song lyric battle though on Twitter. It'll be just an engaging conversation.

Alison Brie:
Yes it will.

Question:
Can you give me an explain-a-brag about your experiences filming Intro to Political Science?

Alison Brie:
The, you know, this episode was really challenging to shoot because we had to learn a lot of lines, like they would bring them to us right when we were onset. So like my performance just, I just had to split, you know, I just had to perform every line perfectly like the first time I got them it was really a difficult thing.

Danny Pudi:
Yes. This was a really challenging performance for me to channel my character because we were exploring some deep political issues. And, you know, up until this point you've seen a pretty neutral Abed in terms of politics trying not to engage one way or the other. And I really tried as Danny and to really find that within Abed. But each time I'd be going and balancing Danny's political views and then Abed's political views.

Alison Brie:
Danny you have to brag. You know, you're just talking about it.

Danny Pudi:
I'm talking about this episode was really awesome for me. I got a lot of great lines.

Question:
Alison, what's up with Annie and Jeff because it doesn't seem like their flirtation is over?

Alison Brie:
Yes their flirtation is not over.

Danny Pudi:
What's up with that? What is up with that?

Alison Brie:
I often wonder what up with that. You know, I still think that Annie kind of holds a little flame for Jeff and, you know, like we saw in the episode when we first came back and Rich comes on to the scene you can see that Jeff gets a little bit jealous. I think that there is a bit of a push and pull between the two of them. And actually in this episode that we're talking about there's a bit of that tension there as well throughout the election.

I think that, you know, they're bumping heads kind of fuels more of that. I think, you know, I think any time they're together there's a bit of that because it can't exist or because it's controversial I think that makes it dangerous and interesting. And obviously to Annie it's exciting to kind of have a crush on an older guy. And she continues to try to kind of challenge Jeff in that way. So their spark is not totally dead. You catch - you might - you may catch glimpse of it in this episode but we shall see. We'll have to wait and see if it's going to amount to anything in the future.

Question:
Danny one of my favorite bits that you and Donald do is Troy and Abed in the morning. Is there any chance that we would get to see that bit as not just something that happens right before the end credits? Would that ever be in an episode?

Danny Pudi:
You know, actually this episode coming up, it's sort of similar in tone. It made me feel like we were doing Troy and Abed in the Morning a little bit because we're playing news anchors at GCTV. And, you know, we have our Troy and Abed in the Morning mugs with us. We have this whole background crew except this is real.

Alison Brie:
It's similar because it's on the cable access channel for Greendale.

Danny Pudi:
Right.

Alison Brie:
We just are learning now that that exists. So it is kind of a similar tone.

Danny Pudi:
And the other thing with Troy in Abed in the Morning is that I don't know how much we would have after our guest leaves because it's pretty much every time we do Troy and Abed in the Morning we convince someone to come and they do like Star-burns and we give them a frog and he ends up leaving or Jeff ends up leaving and yelling.

Alison Brie:
Although Rich was a good sport about it.

Danny Pudi:
Rich was good and now that we have a new weatherman it's still sunny.

Alison Brie:
It's still sunny.

Danny Pudi:
Who knows maybe it will get bigger and better.

Alison Brie:
Spinoff show?

Danny Pudi:
Do you want really want to see 30 minutes of iy?

Alison Brie:
No.

Danny Pudi:
Okay.

Question:
Who would be the dream guest for Troy and Abed in the Morning?

Danny Pudi:
Pat Sajak? That would be the best.

Alison Brie:
Yes.

Danny Pudi:
You know, that's a tough question. I think so many different characters work well on it. As far as Ed Greendale, why are you laughing? I think Alison has actually a secret guest that she has in mind. I'll rattle off some names. Who would like to see?

I'd like to see Howard Stern on Troy in Abed in the Morning. I'd actually like to see Chevy Chase and not Pierce. I'd like to see Chevy Chase on Troy and Abed in the Morning. I think that'd be interesting. So those are two of my favorite guests. Who would you like to see on Troy and Abed in the Morning?

Question:
Maybe Annie?

Alison Brie:
That's who I said.

Danny Pudi:
That would be good. Actually that's probably the likeliest to actually join us on the show.

Alison Brie:
You think so?

Danny Pudi:
Yes.

Question:
Who in the cast would you say is most likely to have the most time on the bloop reel?

Alison Brie:
Ken Jeong is a contender.

Danny Pudi:
Ken probably. Consistently he'll be doing something like even this morning where he all of a sudden be snapping and he'll just keep making himself laugh. And then he'll have to yell really inappropriate things at himself.

Alison Brie:
To get through his own bit, it's funny.

Danny Pudi:
It's pretty damn humorous. You know, I laugh a lot at everybody. I probably crack a lot.

Alison Brie:
I dance a lot.

Danny Pudi:
Alison dances a lot. Donald has a lot of great, great improv lines. I think - I don't know, I think it's kind of all around the table. I think everyone has definitely a good amount that's going to be pretty hard to shuffle through for the DVD. But I probably think Ken.

Alison Brie:
Yes but trust me there's a lot of stuff that does not make it, so the making of our show is a blooper reel.

Danny Pudi:
Yes.

Alison Brie:
So even when we saw the season one DVD I was like they left out so much stuff. But after a certain point you have to go yes maybe that's only entertaining for us.

Danny Pudi:
Right, yes about the context of what we were doing what we're talking about, a lot of it really doesn't make sense. But, you know, if you kind of giggle and get a little giddy the later it goes and, you know, the deeper into an episode you are.

Question:
In the D&D episode there was that scene between the elf maiden and Hector. Was that all improvised or how'd that happen?

Danny Pudi:
Hector the Well-Endowed.

Alison Brie:
Hector the Well-Endowed. You know, in the script the first part was written like I'd go in, I light a candle, I fashion a blindfold out of my Kleenex. And then to the parts where the music was playing and we just kept talking they kind of just let the camera roll and they let us go on and on.

Danny Pudi:
We were both kind of like holy crap I can't believe that made it into the episode.

Alison Brie:
Yes, yes. I'm sure some of that will be on some behind the scenes stuff because they did cut a lot but they also used a lot.

Danny Pudi:
That was one of the most entertaining I don't know, 20 minutes, half hour that I was able to witness because I had to watch Alice describe this whole Hector that Well Endowed journey with the elf maiden.

Alison Brie:
It's true. And I got kind of into it. And then I felt like the reactions were very real. When it cuts back to the table and everyone's kind of horrified. I think the whole crew was looking at me like how do you know that?

Danny Pudi:
Yes I know I think everyone walked out of that room changed.

Alison Brie:
Like and blushing bright red.

Danny Pudi:
I also like to imagine too that Hector the Well-Endowed was supposed to be Troy at one point. So I like to visualize like what if that was Troy actually. That actually will definitely be in the DVD outtake. So look forward to that.

Question:
We've seen Abed and Annie have some romantic scenes like while playing a character. You think there's any way in the world Abed and Annie would ever be a real couple?

Alison Brie:
Oh I don't know.

Danny Pudi:
I don't know.

Alison Brie:
I think Abed is such a platonic member of the group.

Danny Pudi:
Yes.

Alison Brie:
I know we talk about every like viable sexual candidate for everyone else. But I do feel like there's some sort of bond that everyone in the group as with Abed.

Danny Pudi:
Thanks Alison. That makes me feel really good as a person, as an actor. I think Abed knows the dangers of what happens when the group kind of gets all mixed up. He's seen that. And he's warned Troy for instance about being roommates. So they don't want to get too close because he knows what happens when, you know, best friends are roommates as well.

Alison Brie:
He'd be the last one to instigate anything like that.

Danny Pudi:
I think so. But who knows, every episode we're always surprised at what we're doing.

Question:
Community started off as a show about the typical show about a slacker and his friends and then it shifted into this meta-referential 1980s pop cultural homage. Then this year is shifted into this bittersweet slightly morose, yet internally contemplative, show. How do you feel about that and how your characters have grown with the shift?

Alison Brie:
It's natural for any show to grow from a pilot is just a jumping off point. It's just the thing that you're trying to sell so that people want to watch and are interested in these characters or this story. And I think Dan Harmon really utilized it in that way as a jumping off point. And at that point, you know, you get a cast of people. You're hoping they are all going to gel well together. It's such an interesting process just putting together a pilot that's so bizarre.

Once the show gets in motion it does sort of find a life of its own. And I think that so quickly we all clicked and gelled as a cast. And then Dan Harmon sort of started to realize that we were also willing to do anything that he would put before us and that the show and the group as it grew stronger was kind of capable of doing anything. So a lot of this stuff is just Dan Harmon and our writers and our producers really just continuing to take great risks and push us and pull us in these different directions and us sort of going forward gung ho about them.

Danny Pudi:
We also know that, you know, this is the second year that these characters all know each other. We came in to Greendale not knowing each other at all and so it was only kind of natural that the more you discover about each other's characters and how you bounce off each other the more you learn about their back stories, where they come from, their lives, the more complicated everything becomes. So I think that just because of that everything, there's a lot more at stake in terms of our comedy and just things like that which I think is really great too and that the show has done a great job of I guess being consistent with keeping all this, the characters kind of rotating.

So I feel like you really know where each character's coming from at this point which I think makes a lot of the jokes pop more and you kind of also really know how every character's going to react to a situation at this point. It's by the way that description was very similar to the description of my sophomore year at college.

Question:
Will we see Abed and Annie in the Morning?

Alison Brie:
I don't think Annie would ever be replacing Troy as the Abed and Annie in the Morning. But we may soon be taking over other TV sort of talk shows as guests host. So look out for that.

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