May 20th, 2010 by thetvchick
Tonight is the big season finale of Community, the freshman NBC comedy. It started off slow in the ratings, but really found its voice at the second half of the season and took off. The ensemble cast of Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown and Chevy Chase are hilarious. While I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the show when it started last fall, it has turned into a show I really enjoy watching, and causes me to laugh out loud quite frequently. I recently had the chance to chat with Gillian Jacobs (who plays Britta) about her character, the will they/wont they storyline with Jeff, and her dream guest star.
How did you originally get the part of Britta?
It was pilot season last year, and you get a stack of scripts. I was very wary about doing a half hour comedy on TV, but the script just blew me away. I actually laughed out loud while I was reading it, and I loved the character and I thought the writing was so smart. So I went in and read for Dan Harmon and the Russo brothers, and I actually had a 102 degree fever, so I was not really feeling my best. I kind of dragged myself out of bed. But I think they responded to me, and then I read with Joel, and read for the network, and thankfully I got the part. It was definitely my favorite script that I read.
Are you anything like Britta at all?
(laughs) You know, it’s so funny because originally at the beginning of pilot season, I was making a movie in the middle of the woods, and I was not auditioning for things. And one of my best friends, whose also an actress, called me and said “I just read this script, and it’s you. And you have to go out for it.” And I said “I can’t do anything about that! I’m in the middle of the woods, I have no ability.” So when I called her and told her that I got “Community,” she was like “That’s the part I was talking about! That’s you!” So I definitely think that there’s a link between me and Britta. And I sort of got her sarcasm, and I got her wary-ness of Jeff Winger in the pilot. And I really felt like I understood her. I think as time goes on, I see the ways in which I’m different from Britta. I think that I’m a little less rigid than she is, and I guess a little bit better at school than Britta is doing. And I hope that I’m not a buzz kill like Britta, but I totally understand her.
And what has it been like working with such a great ensemble?
It’s so terrific. I really feel so lucky, and I think that people do see that on screen, that we really do get along as friends when the camera isn’t rolling. Also, I feel like we’ve developed such good energy and chemistry together as a cast when we’re in front of the camera, that it makes the work day so much easier. It’s just a bunch of really nice, smart, funny people who sit around all day trying to make each other laugh. It’s a great job.
That leads perfectly into my next question. Is there a lot of breaking character just because of the hilarious cast?
Oh my God, yeah! Yeah! We all break. And I used to think that like Danny Pudi [Abed] was a robot and could not be broken, but he started to break down as well. A lot of times when the camera is rolling on Ken Jeong as Senor Chang, I’m so glad that it’s not on my face, and you may catch my shoulders shaking at times because I just lose it. I lose it so much of the time, and you kind of have to bite your lip or punch yourself in the leg to stop from breaking. There are just certain things that get you no matter how many times you do that scene, you’re always going to break a bit at that line.
Yeah of course! And is there any improv happening? I know that it’s probably around 98 percent scripted.
Yeah. I definitely feel like there are times in which they say “Okay, now just go for it.” Or people sort of ad-lib little lines at the end of the scene and sometimes they make them into the show and sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they will just say “Do whatever you want on this take.” I’ve had maybe like one improv actually make it into the show. (laughs) Donald Glover is a genius at that, and I feel like he’s the one who most of the time gets improv [on] because they are so hilarious. But I’m not quite at his level.
So last week’s episode “Modern Warfare” involved a big paintball war. So how fun was that to shoot? Did anyone get hurt? Or are there any funny stories you can share?
We were all grinning from ear to ear like drunken fools the entire week, because we were so excited to be doing that episode. Justin Lynn who directed it has done the last two “Fast and the Furious” movies and he’s just incredible when it comes to that stuff. And he’s also great working with actors, so it was kind of a dream combination of getting to do things that I never thought I would be doing on a half hour network sitcom, and also just having fun playing Britta in that episode. Running and jumping and firing guns and doing stunts and I think the only injury — I think Alison got a welt. She was hit by a paintball, and I think she suffered a welt. But that might have been the only injury. But it was just so much fun, even when it was like three o’clock in the morning, and we’d been shooting for 16 hours, we were still just so happy to be there.
Are you amazed by some of the creative things the writers come up with — like the Goodfellas homage?
I’m just in awe of Dan Harmon [the creator] because he really reinvents the sitcom, week after week. And it’s just so much fun to be a part of it, because it’s the first show that I would be a fan of, even if I wasn’t on it. And to watch how smartly he does it, and it’s still funny, and it’s still about the characters, and it’s not just completely a Goodfellas ripoff to the point where ten minutes in, you’re like “Okay, I get it. I get the joke.” He always makes sure that it’s about the characters and their stories and that it’s relevant to our show in addition to being so funny and referential.
And you’ve had some really great guest stars so far. Do you have any dream guest stars you’d like to see appear on the show?
I keep saying that I would like Amy Sedaris to play my mother. I’m waging a one woman campaign for that. She’s amazing. I know that there’s been talk about trying to find a way to bring John Hodgman onto the show, and that would be incredible. I feel like we have such amazing comedy pedigree on the show with our guest stars John Oliver, I think is a genius. And John Michael Higgins and Eric Christian Olsen and Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Everyone that’s been on our show has been amazing. I’m so grateful that people are willing to come over and play with us for a week. So, bring ‘em on!
Can you talk a little bit about the romantic moment between Britta and Jeff?
(laughs) Yes. Well, there’s always got to be a little bit of love, right? In the middle of the action movie. So, there’s moments, but I think with Jeff and Britta, there’s always a degree of ambivalence and an unwillingness to admit one’s true feelings or remain vulnerable. So I definitely think it’s going to be a conflicted moment of romance, but there’s some kissy time.
Good good. And what’s coming up on the big finale especially for Britta?
Britta, I feel like is trying to put herself out there a little bit more, be a little more vulnerable, and it might work out, and it might now. And put herself in uncomfortable positions. There’s a beauty pageant coming up, and Britta’s going to be wrestling with her own natural defenses that sometimes prevent her from really making herself vulnerable to other people.
And I heard there may be some crazy costumes coming up in the finale?
Yeah, there’s some costumes! There’s definitely some head-to-toe costumes that you will be seeing in the finale. I don’t know how much more I should say, but it’s great. Eric Christian Olsen is back, so you’ll see Vaughn again, you’ll see John Michael Higgins again. Any character that have sort of become our favorites that have appeared more and more [you'll see] — the characters that sort of populate the school — that are becoming more and more a regular part of show, which I really love, because it feels like there’s a world outside our study group. (laughs)
Community started out slow ratings-wise but has picked up steam. What do you think makes it stand out from the pack?
Well, I definitely feel like it’s unlike any other comedy on TV. Either you like it or you don’t, but it’s not just more of the same. And some people really love the pop culture, meta reference element of our show, some people really hate it and fixate on it, and other people realize that it’s one aspect of our show, but it’s not the entirety of it. But I think the quickness of our humor, the rapidity of the jokes — I think sometimes we have more jokes per square inch than any other show. Maybe “30 Rock” rivals us in that, because “30 Rock” is incredible and just hits you and doesn’t let you rest. And that’s what I always love about “30 Rock,” and when we have those moments on our show, I really, really love it. I think people love the characters. I think that obviously people love Troy and Abed and once you start to have that sort of identification with the characters and people love watching these people get themselves into ridiculous situations. And I think you never quite know what’s going to happen on our show, and so I think it’s fun for the viewers each week to see…”Oh will there be a goat? Will Britta be throwing dead bodies into a quad? Will Shirley and Annie become like cops for an episode?” And I think Dan Harmon’s created a world in which just about anything is possible, and I think it’s really exciting to see where we’re going to go each week.
I totally agree. And just out of curiosity, since Community College is typically two years…I assume all of you will end up staying?
Dan Harmon would like the world to know that you ca get a four year degree at Community College. I’ve heard him say that on enough panels that I know the company line. You can be at Community College for four years. Plus, I’m not doing so well. So, I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to get that degree anyway. I think I really need to bring my grades up.
Well, no one’s really doing that well. Maybe Abed.
Annie’s doing really well. But I think Troy and Britta are pulling about the same grades. So I might get my own spin-off of just like “Will Britta Ever Graduate?”
Are there any tidbits about next season that you’ve heard that you can share?
You know, what, I know absolutely nothing. Dan Harmon’s in Europe right now, so I have no way of trying to pump him for information. I have no idea what they’re going to do. When you sign up for a TV show, all you read is the pilot. You have no idea, you just have to put your faith in the people behind the show, and it’s really paid off for me. So, I have no real worries about season 2.
I look forward to whatever it brings. And what would you tell viewers — why should they tune in for the big finale if they haven’t seen it before?
Because we’re the funniest show you’re not watching. And we have it all. We’ve done singing, we do dancing, we have animals, we have war, we have bloodshed, we have humor, we have heart, and we have the man with sideburns shaped like stars, and nobody else has that.
Be sure to tune in tonight at 8 PM to NBC for the season finale of Community!Tweet