Danny Pudi Teases COMMUNITY and “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”

COMMUNITY Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

The second season of NBC’s COMMUNITY has upped the comic ante to new heights. So far this season the show has taken on space travel, zombies, even Jesus, and at the center of the action is Community‘s not-so-secret weapon: Danny Pudi’s Abed, the pop-culture-obsessed aspiring filmmaker, who has been everything from a Mission Control leader to a Robocop Mean Girl. In the upcoming “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” he will take the Greendale gang on an even more unexpected adventure into a winter wonderland of stop-motion animation.

Daemon’s TV was there when Danny answered questions about both the “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” and “Mixology Certification” episodes and how the Community cast feels about its tough time slot. There are some spoilers.

On “Mixology Certification”

Despite Danny’s obvious excitement over the Christmas episode, he didn’t want to short-change this one. “It’s a really sweet episode, ” He said. “It’s actually Troy’s 21st birthday, so the gang goes to celebrate his 21st birthday party. I don’t think we’ve done this very often where you see our group interacting with people outside of Greendale while we`re still together. That’s always interesting–how would Abed and Troy interact with a regular customer at a bar or how would a regular customer at a bar perceive this group of knucklehheads? You get the feel of that [in this episode], which I think is fun.”

Danny teased that Abed does have some unexpected interaction. “I have a conversation with someone regarding Farscape and the differences between season one and season three and I think Abed is just very excited to be able to discuss Farscape with anyone because there aren’t many people in Abed’s life that can. It’s Abed’s yearning to be able to communicate with someone. I think this is another episode where Abed learns a lesson. I think a lot of people learn a lesson in this episode and Farscape is just the means to the end.”

On “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”

Danny said the episode starts off much like any other. “Cold open: we’re in the cafeteria; Dean Pelton is over the loudspeaker and the only difference is that it’s stop-motion. Abed notices and he thinks it’s a very special Christmas this year because he says that we’ve gone to a new medium: stop-motion. I think that the other characters are then a little bit like ‘Okay, what’s going on with Abed?’ But they come along on the ride for me and I think that the only way to figure out why we’re in stop-motion is that we need to find the meaning of Christmas.”

Much of the episode is told from Abed’s point of view and in true Christmas special fashion, the study group must band together to help him. “Abed needs to figure out what Christmas means to him and the study group comes together on a mini-mission all within one day or even one hour,” Danny explained. “We go on this magical journey through a winter wonderland, including a trip down Gumdrop Road, and we all learn a little bit about the meaning of Christmas to us as a study group. I think the really special thing about this episode is that it starts in this place where something has triggered this new perspective from Abed because every year he has a special thing with his family at Christmas but something’s a little different this year.”

Danny thinks the stop-motion enhances the episode without stripping any of Community‘s spirit. “In true Community fashion, there are moments of absurdity but it’s all really grounded in reality and logical. The script is really funny and really sharp but also we go to these places and with the stop-motion I think we’re able to go a bit further in terms of emotional depth and the sadness of the characters, too.”

When asked about the script, Danny said, “I think it’s perfect. There’s so much beautiful stuff in there and I think it makes complete sense that it’s coming out of Abed’s point of view. Coming from Abed sort of makes it natural, like of course he watches Rudolph every year–this makes sense. Why can’t his perspective in this episode be all stop-motion?”

Other tidbits:

While “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” does touch on religion and Danny thinks it`s full of meaning, it’s not as Christianity-based as “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples.” Danny also said it’s “a little bit less about the meta and more just like ‘Oh, crap, let’s figure out why we’re stop-motion.'”

John Oliver’s Professor Duncan is in the episode–as a wizard–and he decides he needs to help Abed figure out what’s going on in Abed’s mind.

About Ken Jeong, Danny teased, “[He] plays a really fun character that I don’t want to give away which, to me, makes complete sense. I think people will enjoy that.”

Eight different animators have been working on the episode for six weeks. One animator spent 3 days working on the 30 second tag.

When asked how he thought the episode turned out, Danny said, “We haven’t seen the full episode yet. We’ve seen clips and we’ve seen our dolls and it’s way more incredible than I ever expected it to be.” He showed his high hopes for “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” when he declared “I think it’s going to rival Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for our generation. At least that’s our hope.”

On Community going up against The Big Bang Theory and American Idol

When asked the inevitable ratings question, Danny shouted in mock horror, “Wait a minute? What? Idol is going against us? And Big Bang is against us, too? Do we even have a chance?”

In reality, Danny seems pragmatic about the tough time slot. “It’s become sort of comedic for us because we’re just like ‘What’s next?’ Pretty soon we’ll only be airing on Hulu or who knows where. Big Bang and Idol are doing great and I don’t think we have a chance of beating them. The writers are just focused on making a really fun, smart, interesting show and seeing what we can do next. That’s kind of the fun of it. A lot of great, creative things come out of times where there’s a little bit of a struggle.”

Looking on the bright side, Danny continued, “We have a little bit of room for experimentation, which I always think is kind of a fun thing, especially with comedy and especially with our show, which can go in a lot of different places. We went into outer space. We had a zombie episode; we had a bottle episode and now we’re going into stop-motion and we’re only halfway through season two.”

On what’s next

The Community team is still hard at work. Danny said they just shot an episode where the study group puts on an anti-drug play and they have a table read tomorrow night and he has no idea what will be in that script, which is just fine by him. “I don’t know what’s next, but I kind of think that’s the fun thing about this show. I love the spontaneity and not really knowing what’s going to happen next,” Danny remarked. “The writers are always surprising us and they’re really always trying to find new things for the characters and growing and also I just love the fact that our show, as bizarre and as absurd as it can go, there’s a lot of good lessons being learned. Characters are growing and learning from mistakes.”

Community airs on NBC Thursday nights at 8pm eastern/7pm central. “Mixology Certification” airs on December 2 and “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” airs on December 9. You can read all of our Community Coverage here.

You can follow Danny on Twitter @dannypudi and vote for Abed in the Daemon’s TV Abed Vs. Barney poll.

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