Whenever the conversation of Emmy snubs is broached, I continually include one name: Danny Pudi. His wild and winning work as Abed Nadir has been one of the most consistent highlights throughout Community's three seasons.
And this season is no exception as he's seamlessly segued between broad comedy, intricate character work and mainstream magnificence. Tonight brings the season-to-last episode before Community's 90-minute finale and I caught up with Danny while he was in NYC to talk about his spot-on Jamie Lee Curtis, the death of Starburns and his season four dreams.
Insider.com: What brings you to NYC?
Danny Pudi: I'm working with Speedstick, sharing awkward funny stories and asking you to Tweet your story to @SpeedStick with the hashtag #HandleIt. It's really any situation where you were sweating on the inside and tried to keep cool on the outside. We're going to take the best one and turn it into a short that I will narrate. Like, in college, I entered a hot body contest and lost immediately. I want people to know that there's a reason I'm working on these awkward funny stories.
Insider: That's pretty good -- any from the set of Community?
Danny: One time I was dressed in drag as Jamie Lee Curtis and my wife's parents came to set. They did not make eye-contact with me the whole time [laughs]. It was very uncomfortable for both of us. I also met Master P that week, dressed as Jamie Lee. I had to tell him in the deepest voice I could summon, "I'm a big fan, Master P. Big fan. Uuuuugh! Mah-na-mah-nah.” [laughs]
Insider: I loved that episode, and I must say, you made a dynamite Jamie Lee Curtis circa True Lies.
Danny: [laughs] I don't know how I feel about that compliment. It's wonderful when people think you're very convincing as something, but do you really want to be convincing as Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies? I don't know.
Insider: Well, that was just one amazing episode in an excellent season. How have you felt about year three?
Danny: It's interesting. It's hard to have perspective while you're in it. I think this year has been dark because we were on hiatus and the future of the show is uncertain. Some of the episodes we've done have been very challenging. The Dreamatorium episode was tough for us – it was me and Alison [Brie] in one room and I'm taking on all these personalities. Thankfully the creative team is so good that I always feel like I'm in good hands. In a month from now, I'm sure I’ll be able to look back at the season and not remember things like, "Oh, that was the day I became a father."
Insider: Yes, congratulations.
Danny: Thank you, it's really cool. And it's great because Joel [McHale] has two kids and Ken Jeong does as well, so it's great to be around people who want to share baby photos with you. I mean, no one wants to be the guy pushing baby pics on his co-worker who just came back from Vegas after a bender.
Insider: Looking ahead, are you feeling optimistic about a fourth season?
Danny: I am. I've felt optimistic since day one. I think Community and the kind of comedy we're doing is so important. I'm consistently floored by the creativity of the whole crew – not just the writing or acting, but [things] like the art department -- so amazing. The way they bring Greendale to life is incredible. For us, it's a 200 person family. I see the passion, so I'm optimistic and hopeful because I feel like we're doing something different on television. I hope there's room for that.
Insider: Given how passionate you clearly feel about the show, is it frustrating when a co-star is so vocal about not thinking the show is good?
Danny: Yea. It is frustrating. But this stuff will always be blown out of proportion. Although I think that's part of the magic too – there's so much going on. Not just on-camera, but behind the scenes too. That's why Community needs to be on the air.
Insider: So what you're saying is the Chevy Chase voicemails were just a complex PR campaign?
Danny: Absolutely. I'm hoping there are five or six more voicemails that come out with each new episode [laughs].
Insider: When those went viral, who needed SpeedStick more: Chevy or Dan Harmon?
Danny: [laughs] Oooh, man – that's a doozy. I think I would take a can and spray in both directions.
Insider: Last week revealed that Starburns was killed. What did you make of that turn?
Danny: I think it's like anything else on our show – it's an unexpected turn and we deal with it. We've always done that, starting with our paintball episode [where] you saw Jeff & Britta doing it. I think that's something people thought we'd stretch out for a while, but we dealt with it head-on. Same thing here. We deal with consequences and I love how the writers do that. It changes things a little bit, but our show is always moving in different directions.
Insider: If the show gets a fourth season, what would you like to do with Abed that you haven't gotten to yet?
Danny: I've often thought it would be cool to do a Ninja episode or a Black & White episode. Those would be fun and interesting. I'm a huge fan of sports movies, I've been really passionate about ESPN's 30 For 30, so I think that would be fun. Or maybe a riff on Brian's Song [or] Field of Dreams. Something along the lines of those sports movies would be great. I just don't know how we'd do it.
Insider: Well, if you can figure out how to do a zombie episode, I can't imagine a sports movie would present that much of a problem.
Danny: Yea, or maybe we just do War Horse. We did Horse Bot 3000, so maybe that's what we do. War Horse Bot 3000.
Community airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.