Since both critics and fans seem to relish comparing COMMUNITY’s often zany and always unpredictable antics to that of a live action version of THE SIMPSONS, it’s only fitting that tonight’s Christmas episode sees our favorite Greendale study group getting an Extreme Makeover: Animated Edition. And here to tease tonight’s stop-motion special is none other than the impetus for tonight’s claymation transformation —actor Danny Pudi — who was kind enough to take a break from his morning show with Troy to talk to a group of reporters about what’s in store for fans planning to tune into “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.
Having probably grown up watching such holiday classics as HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, what was your first reaction to seeing an animated version of yourself?
Danny Pudi: It’s very bizarre because you’re not just looking at a version of yourself, you’re looking at an enhanced and better looking version! The eyebrows are fuller, the forehead is smaller, the jawline is nicer and overall I’m just more handsome. So I’m very thankful and very excited about all this.
Was there any added pressure knowing that the story revolved mainly around your character?
I guess I was a little nervous. Particularly because I’m not a voice-over actor and I’ve never really done any voice-over work, so trying to convey some of the feelings and stuff, it was definitely a little bit more challenging for me. That said, in terms of the script itself, I think it makes complete sense that this is sort of coming from Abed’s point-of-view, like, “Of course, he watches RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER every year so why can’t his perspective be all stop motion?” That’s his Christmas.
Tonight’s claymation episode is just another example of the sort of non-traditional sitcom-y types of episodes that have become COMMUNITY calling card. What’s your take on getting to do all this weird, bizarro stuff?
I love it. For me, it’s my mentality and how I work, I love kind of the spontaneity of not really knowing what’s going to happen next. I guess that quality, the same quality that didn’t make me the best office employee probably suits me for this job. I like not knowing what’s going to happen next, and I think all of us here are so excited to see what’s in the next script. I mean, when we get to a table read we’re all like flipping through eagerly and it’s the quietest you’ll ever see our cast at one table because everyone is reading the script so, just getting into it, you know? And I think that’s a testament to the writers because they’re not only always surprising us, but trying to find new things for the characters and growing.
And also, I just love the fact that our show, as bizarre and as absurd as it can go really there’s a lot of good lessons being learned constantly, characters are growing and learning from mistakes and there’s always, you know, we get to do a lot of different things, you know, which is for regular comedy that’s only 22 minutes I always think about that. To be able to go to the places we’ve gone in a 22 minute comedy with an ensemble that includes Chevy Chase, Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Alison Brie, I mean everybody, it’s like with all those people and giving us a little piece of that pie it’s really exciting.
COMMUNITY and holidays seem to be going hand-in-hand, you’ve done Halloween episodes and now it’s Christmas, is Purim next?
Give us enough time, give us enough seasons and I’m sure we’ll hit them all. I think with our group, the ensemble itself, and everyone having their own unique take on Christmas, like Annie being Jewish, Yvette being Christian and Troy being Jehovah’s Witness, with all these people having their own take that also means everybody kind of grew up with different traditions. And I think you really get to see that when there’s a holiday, or even a birthday, you really get to see kind of how each person, where they came from, each character.
Some of the fun in our group is really just seeing where each person kind of came from and what they’re used to and then just trying to learn from the rest of the group. We’re all sort of kids in a sandbox in preschool except that we’re all adults at Greendale. But we’re essentially doing the same thing, we’re all learning from each other and being like, “Well, this is how I’ve done it. How do you guys do it?” And I think that’s largely the reason why we like to celebrate holidays, plus they’re just fun and there’s a dance.
Has there been any talk of NBC selling the little likenesses of you and the cast on their website or the NBC store yet?
If there’s a way to make money, I am sure they’re looking into it. I do know one of the things that they’ve started to do is sell the “Troy and Abed In The Morning” coffee mugs. And I’ve gotten a number of people who have sent me pictures and, on Facebook and Twitter of them drinking coffee with the “Troy and Abed In The Morning” mug. I always think that’s really humorous just knowing that in some office right now, a CPA is looking over somebody’s taxes while drinking some Folgers out of my mug.
COMMUNITY airs Thursday night at 8PM on NBC (CityTV in Canada)