The NBC comedy series Community is finally returning with new episodes for the remainder of its third season tonight, much to the happiness of its devoted fans. Telling the story of a tight-knit Greendale Community College study group, that includes actress Yvette Nicole Brown as sassy middle-aged divorcée Shirley, the show is always smart, always clever and always funny.
During this recent interview to promote the return of the show, Yvette Nicole Brown was joined by actor Jim Rash, who plays the ulta-efficient yet slightly neurotic Dean Pelton, to talk about their feelings on teasing what’s to come versus revealing too much, upcoming storylines they wish hadn’t already gotten out, their favorite upcoming episode, their favorite scene from the series, a storyline they’d like to see for their characters, dream guest stars, their desire to do another musical episode, and whether they’ve ever “borrowed” anything from the set. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
YVETTE NICOLE BROWN: This is my soapbox moment. I really feel like, if you’re the kind of person that wants to know what happens, there should be a place you can go to find out everything you want to know. But, I think it’s really wrong to just kamikaze announce, on Twitter and blogs, what’s happening. I like to enjoy entertainment. If it’s a show that I like, I like to see it. You can tell me a guest star is coming, but don’t tell me who he is and don’t tell me the plot. Someone on Twitter called it “ruiners.” There are spoilers, and then there are ruiners. A spoiler is something that gets you excited like, “Oh, Malcolm Jamal Warner. Yey!” A ruiner is like, “And when he’s there, he’s going to do this, this and this.” Sometimes I think it’s this desire to go, “I was the first to know.” They don’t give out gold stars for knowing first.
JIM RASH: For me, I want to know everything. No. I think it’s okay to tease, but you hide something that will be a surprise. Maybe this is a generational thing, but I didn’t know what was going to happen in Superman 2. It’s also just the fact of how we are obsessed with the way that we get our information. We’ve changed. It used to be, “Oh, I hear that Superman might be fighting alter-egos. I don’t know.” You didn’t see anything, and it was a long time until you got the trailer, and that was right before it came out.
BROWN: And sometimes the trailer was just the Superman logo. I remember with Superman, you would just see the logo. Just seeing the logo and, “Summer of whatever,” it was enough to go, “I’ve gotta go see it!” It didn’t matter. You trusted the filmmakers and you trusted the actors, and you knew that it was going to be wonderful, whenever you got to it. I could talk about this all day.
BROWN: I wish no one knew about the Law & Order episode. I only talked about it after it was already leaked. I never spoil anything. I’ll get a talking points list from Sony or NBC, and I’ll go, “I’m not saying that, and I’m not saying that.” I’m very protective of our storylines. So, once that was out, I confirmed it, but I didn’t want it to be out. I really wanted the viewers to tune in one day and go, “This is a Law & Order episode!” I wanted that excitement. Our fans – the 12 of them – are amazing, God bless them! They’re so creative that, if they get enough plot points, they could do a fan fiction that would rival whatever we could come up with. So, I don’t like them to have too much for their minds because then what we do might be a let-down.
RASH: I feel bad because I started a blog called, “Jim Rash is going to tell you everything,” and I just really ran with that Law & Order thing. No, I think there’s still some good stuff, even with that extended trailer they showed during The Soup. That got me very excited. Maybe it’s because we’ve been off for awhile, but part of it was like, “Oh, that’s right, I was dressed like that.” But, I still think there’s plenty of stuff that was not there, that will be a surprise for a lot of people, so that’s good. As long as a teaser saves some things, that’s good.
BROWN: The Law & Order episode is my favorite.
RASH: Yeah, it’s out there for a reason.
BROWN: It’s really good. When we were doing the table read, ‘cause all of us are nerds who all love Lost and Law & Order, every time the “chung chung” was said, everybody in the room wanted to be the first one to get it out because we were all so geeked. So, that’s my favorite that’s coming up.
RASH: I would agree.
What is your favorite scene, from any season?
BROWN: My favorite scene is coming up in the return episode. It’s a scene with Malcolm Jamal Warner. I will not say what happens, but I told him it needed to be the most romantic thing that ever happened to me, and he made it the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. That’s my favorite scene, and it’s in “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts.” It’s the first time you see Shirley and Andre together, in the episode.
RASH: For me, my favorite was probably getting to do “Kiss From A Rose” with Joel [McHale]. That whole episode, everyone got split off and it was really fun to have a week with just one person and build that relationship. Plus, I had been stuck at the school ‘cause I am an administrator, so to blackmail was the best way to get me out. I was all for it. All those little pieces help to grow these characters and let them evolve.
BROWN: It’s always a different dynamic when it’s just you and one other person. This year is the first time I’ve had a lot of stuff with Joel.
RASH: And there’s some more coming up. That’s a nice relationship to grow into.
Show creator Dan Harmon was talking on his blog about how everybody needs a hug, and even when you guys are arguing with each other, you know what great friends you all are. Is that something that permeates when you do the work?
RASH: Yeah, I think so. As far as working together and the love that’s there, I do think that’s true. The long hours go faster when everyone is on set. Even if I’m not working, I’d rather be on set.
BROWN: In between takes, we stay on set. Our set is probably the loudest and rowdiest set I’ve ever worked on, but it’s also the most fun because everyone is free to just be as freaky as they individually are. Whatever you find funny, whatever makes you laugh and whatever you think will make someone else laugh, we’re empowered to just be ourselves. I think a lot of that playfulness is what makes it into the show. There are times, in different scenes, where we’re giggling or there’s a bubbly energy because five minutes before somebody probably did something ridiculous and it carries into the fun of the scene.
RASH: And then, we hug.
BROWN: Our show is funny because, if you pay attention to the background, you’ll see a lot of stuff that was not scripted. There are just little silly things that everyone does. We did a whole scene in the diorama episode or the flashback episode last year, where Donald Glover’s rear end was out, the entire scene. You don’t see it, but we acted with his rear end out. It’s in the bloopers where we’re acting and he keeps looking at me and I’m like, “What are you doing?” And I finally see, five minutes later, that his butt was out. Everyone around the table knew that he was doing that to make me go, “Oh, Donald!,” so in the whole scene, they were acting, knowing that, any second, I was going to notice that his butt was out. It’s just little dirty things like that. It’s a butt Easter egg.
What are your three favorite TV shows of all-time?
BROWN: That’s easy, The Cosby Show and Golden Girls, and then I want to go with Friends and Seinfeld together. The Cosby Show because it showed black people in a way that was aspirational. I grew up poor in East Cleveland and I had never seen that level of culture in a home. It made me want to strive for it. I understand that a lot of times entertainment is gritty and real, but I can look out the window and see gritty and real. I’d like to see something that makes me think that things can be better. Golden Girls because it was just masterful writing and acting. Those four women were genius, in individual ways. All of them were so well drawn that a scenario would be happening in the room and one would walk in and you’d know exactly how that character would respond to what was happening in the room. Friends and Seinfeld because they showed friendships in a new way that I think television hadn’t seen. They expanded the multi-camera drama. I think they were the precursors to single camera, in the sense that they had a different look. They were multi-camera, but they looked more single camera. They led us to the next level.
RASH: I think of the things that were appointment television for me. I remember being in college and, unless you knew how to program a VCR, you were at home to see Seinfeld. I love that aspect of it. Even though you could DVR Lost, I had to watch it that night because I didn’t want anyone spoiling anything and I didn’t want to read anything. I loved Lost, from beginning to end. And then, more currently, I would say It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I watch too much TV.
Is there a storyline you’d like to see for your characters?
BROWN: I’ve said this so many times that I feel like it will never happen, but I’ve never worked with Donald one-on-one, and I would love to do that. There’s never been a Shirley and Troy storyline. I would love to work with him.
RASH: I want them to somehow work Sid & Marty Krofft and H.R. Pufnstuf into a spoof with puppets and weird psychedelic stuff.
BROWN: I want Muppets. That would make me happy. I’ve said that a thousand times.
RASH: This year, in particular, I loved doing the documentary episode. I felt like you started to learn a little bit more about the Dean. And so, anything that continues that path, whether it be home life, which I would love to see, or just anything that shows you why these people tick, I’m always up for that stuff, with any of the characters.
Do you still have dream guest stars that you’d love to see on the show?
BROWN: Sandra Bullock. I love her. That’s a pipe dream. I keep hoping she’ll come. She won’t come, will she?
RASH: I don’t know. Probably anyone I’m mistaken for, like Moby and Steven Soderbergh. That would be fun. They’ll all play my brothers.
RASH: Yes, definitely! That’s what’s great about Dan Harmon and our writers. Even with paintball, something is different. I feel like, if there was a possibility to do another Glee story, we could easily do something. I would love to sing.
Have you ever “borrowed” any props from the set that you’ve just forgotten to return?
RASH: I don’t want any of my clothes.
BROWN: I walked out with a Shirley wig once. It was just on my head, and I went home. I was very tired and it was on my head and I went home. I woke up with it plastered to the side of my face and realized, “Oh, my god, I left with Shirley’s hair!” But, I returned it.
RASH: There’s things I would want to steal. There are some great props.
BROWN: I want the little ventriloquist dummy from the first season, when we did the protest. He’s been in all of our season pictures and all of our wrap pictures. I want him. I’d want to find a way to get him out of there.