Earlier this year, we got the chance to talk with Community’s Danny Pudi in conjunction with Speed Stick’s “Handle It” campaign. Fans were asked to tweet their most embarrassing stories, and the winning selection was turned into a video narrated by Pudi. The contest has now come to a close, and Pudi spoke with us again about how they settled on this particular embarrassing story as the winner and the many awkward submissions that were turned in.
Additionally, with the fourth season of Community set to kick off next month, we spoke quite a bit about the new batch of episodes. Pudi teased an Inspector Spacetime convention episode, a ghost-filled Halloween episode, the appearance of Jeff Winger’s (Joel McHale) dad, played by Josh Brolin, and gave his thoughts on the Inspector Spacetime web series. I also asked Pudi about the show’s regime change, as David Guarascio and Moses Port replaced Dan Harmon as showrunner, and he divulged his personal favorite episodes of the series thus far. Hit the jump to check out the interview.
First off, here’s the winning Handle It video narrated by Pudi:
DANNY PUDI: We started this campaign a couple of months back, we asked guys to submit their Handle It stories—hilarious awkward moments where they managed to keep their cool under pressure—and we got a number of Tweets, a lot of really great ones, and this guy’s story was really funny so a team of judges and everyone kind of came onboard, went through them, and picked this one story which we made into a video that I narrated with my inner freakout voice. And that video goes live today on YouTube, youtube.com/speedstick. In his story, he managed to shrink his girlfriend’s clothes in the dryer and somehow he didn’t get punched or violently attacked afterwards, so that’s the winning video of the Handle It moment.
Did you have a hard time picking one winner out of all the submissions?
PUDI: Yeah I was actually really impressed by how many awkward stories we had, ranging from bad haircuts to one guy told us about being on the beach and he threw a Frisbee and it hit a lady in the head. His immediate reaction was to turn and he found a kid next to him and pointed to the kid, it’s those kinds of moments. I was really impressed with the volume of fun stories we got to play with. No one was a loser in this game; they were all winners (laughs).
I’m a big fan of Community. How far are you guys into the new season?
PUDI: We just finished up the fifth episode, so we start shooting episode six on Monday. It’s pretty incredible, thinking back. I feel like we just started season one, so just to have a fourth season is pretty miraculous, especially for our show after what we’ve been through in the last year or so. But yeah we finished up our Halloween episode, which I think is going to air early this year, we just did an episode about an Inspector Spacetime convention, and I’m excited for people to see what we’ve been up to.
Are you familiar at all with the unofficial “Inspector Spacetime” web series?
PUDI: Yeah I know Travis, the guy who plays the Inspector—I actually just ran into him. There was a “Six Seasons and a Movie” art show in downtown Los Angeles which was all dedicated to Community fan art, which was pretty incredible, and I ran into him there. A couple of people recently told me about the web series which I think is pretty funny, but I haven’t seen any of the episodes yet. I love the outpouring of fan support and I think it’s pretty cool.
I know it’s still pretty early in the season, but is there anything you can tease fans about the upcoming episodes? Are there any big concept episodes coming up?
PUDI: Yeah I think the big one is the Inspector Spacetime convention thus far; you get to peek into Abed’s fan world a little bit more. We have a couple of really great guest stars coming up, Malcolm McDowell, Matt Lucas from Little Britain. A big episode, I wouldn’t say it’s a theme episode but it’s an important episode—we meet Jeff Winger’s dad pretty early on this season which I think is significant in terms of the group and in terms of the formation of Jeff Winger’s character, so that’s important. My favorite episode thus far this season of the one’s we’ve shot is our Halloween episode which I think people are going to love. Great costumes, Tory and Abed definitely have a costume together, and there may or may not be ghosts in that episode.
Obviously the show had a fairly significant staff change before this season began. What would you say David Guarascio and Moses Port have brought to the series as the new showrunners?
PUDI: Well immediately they came in and were very adamant about “We don’t wanna change the show. We wanna preserve what makes the show great,” so for us at least, that was calming because it was sort of a wild summer with a lot of different changes and we weren’t really sure what to expect. For me, I’m a fan of the show itself as well as being on it. I love watching the show, especially when I’m not in it so I can actually watch it (laughs), so for me there were definitely questions, “Are they gonna preserve the integrity of the show? Is the spirit of the show gonna live on?” and I think they’ve done a good job of convincing us that that’s what they wanna do. In terms of the rest of the writing staff we still have Megan Ganz and Andy Bobrow and a couple other writers who have been with us through last season as well, so I think they’ll help in that transition. They’ve encouraged us to also speak up in terms of stuff that’s true to our characters or not true to our characters, and I think that’s been pretty good. So far it’s been good, five episodes in and I’m excited to kind of see what’s next.
PUDI: I hope so! I don’t know, we haven’t seen it yet this season so far, so I don’t know if the writers have something in mind for later in the season, a big dreamatorium arc. I think for the most part, the dreamatorium kind of collapsed on itself, but there were definitely some hints to it still being around in some capacity. And I think you see early on in season four, in the premiere itself, we talk a little bit about what’s going on in Abed’s mind since that took place. Especially with the face that Abed now has to really face the possibility that this may be the last year that the study group is together in one piece, and you see the toll that’s taking on him. So the dreamatorium might not be there physically, but it’s definitely there, it’s definitely present and heavy on their minds.
Do you have a favorite episode of the series so far or one that’s particularly close to your heart?
PUDI: It’s really hard. I think it’s tough to pick a favorite because we do so many wildly different episodes; week-to-week our show shifts dramatically. It’s really hard to pick just one. There’s a lot of them that are really special to me, I think season one’s chicken fingers episode (“Contemporary American Poultry”) was one of the first one’s where I felt, “Wow our show can go in a completely new direction that I hadn’t envisioned.” Paintball (“Modern Warfare”) was just fun for all of us. In season two we did my birthday episode (“Critical Film Studies”), which was My Dinner with Andre homage mashed up with Pulp Fiction, and that to me was an incredible experience and really rewarding as an actor. I got to work with Richard Ayoade who was our director and with the stuff that Dan Harmon was coming up with, me pooping my pants on the set of Cougar Town. I can’t believe I got to say those things. So there’s just been a lot of episodes where I look back and I’m like “I can’t believe we got to do this.” But those three—chicken fingers, paintball, and My Dinner with Andre birthday episode—would probably be the three I look back to most often.
Season four of Community begins on NBC Friday, October 19th at 8:30/7:30c.