Warning: This article contains storyline and character spoilers from this week’s episode of Community.
Every Tuesday, Community creator Dan Harmon will sit down with Yahoo TV to break down the best inside jokes, Easter eggs, sight gags, and more from each week’s episode. If you haven’t seen this week’s installment, “Laws of Robotics and Party Rights,” watch the video above and then read on.
What are the logistics involved in making comedy with robots? Is it really hands-on or did things go really smoothly?
Comedy is definitely timing dependent, so hoping that a pre-made device that comes out of a box is going to work the right way, at the right time for your joke or story is a pretty astronomical bet. We definitely had to create a couple versions of those visual telepresence robots. We had a company that makes them come and demonstrate the technology to us and show us what they’re capable of so we could make the story in reality. But ultimately, we did have to make puppet versions of [the robots] and have people below frame raising and lowering the telescopic armatures, turning them around so that — if someone’s going to make a dramatic turn or a double take — we had a human level of control over it.
What is “yard juice”? And is there a list of discarded prison questions on the writers’ room floor or did that scene just go from page to screen?
There’s definitely a list of responses to different prison questions. Yard juice… I have no idea. I think we were just trying to come up with something that sounded vaguely gross and that you can only learn by being in prison. Then I had the writers come up with list of questions that people like Garrett would ask a prisoner. My favorites were, “Does anyone get their head stuck between the bars?” and “Do you get to pick your own number?”
And then, because there’s a pause before Jeff answers, we did have to create an answer to one of those questions while Jeff was entering. So there was a list of answers to the question, “Does anyone ever get their head stuck between the bars?” ranging from, “You don’t want to know about that,” or “At least once a week,” to “Gettin’ metal ears.”
Was that Abed, the real Abed as the janitor at the end there?
Yes, that is correct! [Laughs.] Abed Gheith from Channel 101, my old friend, whose name I stole for the character of Abed.
What took so long to get him on the show?
Abed’s a terrible actor. [Laughs.] No, Abed actually auditioned for the role of Abed when I did the pilot. That was my original intention was for him to play the role. But nobody could have competed with Danny Pudi. He walked in the room and we just said “Well, let’s put a star on the show and that’ll give us an edge.”
Are there other characters based on real people? And did any of them get to play those characters? Peripheral characters maybe?
Jeff Winger is loosely based on my best friend Jeff. But over time, the writers and actors take the character in its own direction. I don’t think there’s any characters that I based in reality that the real person got to come and do the part. The character — oh no, no. That hasn’t aired yet…
At this point, Harmon began talking about a guest star from episode 9, “Intro to Recycled Cinema” whose identity we’ll keep safe for now. Next week: “Basic E-mail Security” in which the show takes on the legacy of South Park.
Community is released every Tuesday on Yahoo Screen.