Tonight’s cuppa: decaf hazelnut coffee, with newlywed neighbors over pieces of the cake I decorated today

Community_NBC.jpgI typed some questions to Dan Harmon, creator of NBC’s Thursday comedy hit “Community” — and mad Twitterer — and he typed answers back. That’s just what writers do. And typists (are there still typists?).

But anyway, here we go …

the show turned out like you conceived at the beginning, or have elements
emerged that you didn’t expect?


speaking, almost nothing but unexpected elements have emerged, because I didn’t
want to know where we were going, and I’m finding out everything the audience
finds out a few weeks ahead of them throughout the season.


I found out
every character’s religion. Britta lived in New York but pronounces “bagel” the way I
do. Go figure. Annie lost her virginity to a gay boyfriend on the floor of a
walk-in closet. Awesome.


the show has turned out to occupy a larger area than I thought would be
possible. We have consistently had episodes in which a fast-paced round of
crisp dialogue can build to a broad, base gag that explodes into fragments of
absurdity, finally coalescing as a nice pool of heartwarming goo.


I really
thought, before doing this show, that you had to choose between farts, snark
and sonnets, and yet I love them all, and my happiest surprise about this show
is that I might not have to choose, and might not be alone.


important have the off-screen elements – the minisodes and other videos, the
Twitter accounts – become to increasing awareness of the show?


I wish the
answer was “massively,” but I have no idea. This is an easy position for me to
have, because I currently have the luxury of having a network show, but I look
at digital content as an opportunity to feed the TV fans, to drive traffic from
the living room to the office the next day.


I know
that’s probably stupid, because, if you look at the “Abed’s Community College
episodes they let us do, obviously those have zero promotional
value, they’re not going to get anybody that doesn’t watch the show to tune
into the show. But I don’t care, because, as a fan of the show, I find it so
amazing, the idea that one of the characters is a filmmaker whose films you can
watch online, some of which are a show he makes, that, because he’s IN THE
SHOW, share plot elements with the real show, but, because he’s a weird guy,
are written differently and go different places.


Going back
to your first question, my “expectation” was that by now, there’d have been 15
episodes of that show-within-a-show online, and at least three instances in the
real show in which we’re reminded it exists. What happened? We made two of
them, and they don’t make people watch the TV show, so, they sit there like
monuments to the danger of listening to me. Wait, no, they’re monuments to the
danger of ignoring me, aren’t they?


Well, how
about monuments to the danger of doing the “look, it’s strangers playing our
favorite characters” bit before they’re anybody’s favorite characters?


characters are most clearly defined in your mind, and which ones are still


biographically, I know very little about her, I think I might know Britta the
best in terms of knowing what she would do in a given situation. In her
inception, she was an amalgam of a few ex-girlfriends. She’s an archetype
that’s been a social fixture in my life, the intimidatingly quiet and eclectic
girl that, as she becomes less quiet, reveals that being eclectic is another
way of saying over-filtered to the point of self-imposed blandness and
crippling insecurity.


We all
pooped our pants in kindergarten, and we take different escape routes from that
memory, but I feel like I’ve met — and loved — and regretted loving — but
was thankful to have loved — so many women that took similar routes to
Britta’s, that she’ll always be the most familiar, therefore most abused, and
therefore most pitied, therefore all the more familiar, to me.


the guest stars – Anthony Michael Hall (on the right below, with star Joel McHale), Owen Wilson, Jack Black, etc. – who
Thumbnail image for Community_Joel_McHale_Anthony_Michael_Hall.jpgt come back, and are there still guest stars on your wish list?


I would
love to revisit AMH’s character, because I still lose sleep about the fact that
we broke a “Community” commandment with that character, as we have with a few
of our archer villains: thou shalt write up to the character. In other words,
what thing, however small, does the character share with the writer? We have to
revisit Anthony Michael Hall’s character, and I need to prove he was secretly
human that Christmas.


As for Jack
and Owen, they can come back anytime they want, but come on, it’s “Community.”


will Joel McHale strip next?


My God, the
poor guy, he’s become Christina Applegate on “Married with Children.” I
will answer that question sincerely out of gratitude to our female and gay
audience: Joel’s shirt and pants will be off again in a few weeks.


I’m sorry I
can’t give you an airdate; you’ll just have to suffer, weekly, through my
thought-provoking stories, on the edge of your seat, wondering if this is the
moment, but I can tell you it happens again.


guessing it’s the third-from-last episode this season. The shirt and pants come
off.  At least the shirt, I know that.


Early in
the episode, he removes his sweater like a male bimbo, revealing a tightly
stretched wife-beater T-shirt straining against his heaving, rock-hard pecs. Later
in that episode…that wife-beater’s out of there. Discarded.


So, make
sure when you’re watching it with your husband that you laugh extra hard at
some joke in the episode, that way you’ll have a fake answer for “why are we
saving this?”