I learned many things when visiting the Paramount lot to check out the cast of Community rehearsing a big homage episode for their second season. For one thing, Danny Pudi taught me that there are still some Joel McHale "butt juices" left on the pool table from the episode in which he dropped trou against his teacher.
I also learned that the art department has a lot of fun with the signage they post all over the walls of Greendale Community College's lounge, library, etc. There are gems like "We didn't mean it literally but whatever" featuring a girl hugging a tree for eco conservation, as well as flyers with McHale himself printed on them that are meant to advertise the school in a "Hi I'm Jeff. I used to be a lawyer but now I go here" sort of way.
But most importantly, I learned that the cast is so close that even when they interrupt each other's interviews, they are having fun and a good laugh about everything. "We don't fight as much as the characters do. We don't really have brawls, and no one gives speeches as often in real life," Gillian Jacobs said. "But I think that we most often just dissolve into, like, silliness with Donald doing some bit and all of us just laughing. I feel bad for the people that run our set because it's like herding cats! It's basically everybody just, like, ping-ponging off each other all of the time."
Their dynamic truly has become like the study group, even if not all of the actors have taken on the specific characteristics of their characters. For example, McHale points to Yvette Nicole Brown as the true Jeff Winger of the group, "She gets around!" He dead-panned. Also, Jacobs wanted to point out that Donald Glover is a lot smarter than Troy and Pudi does, in fact, understand reality. Yeah, yeah, I figured.
But Alison Brie admitted that there are definitely situations and times where their real life personalities drip into their characters. One example is the dynamic between her own character and Brown's. "We have a lot of fun together," Brie said of Brown. "We both sit on the same side of the table, I think Yvette and I both see the same things in ourselves as similarities that really inform the characters, and that's what really drives it all."
Brown elaborated: "Shirley and Annie are pretty much the same character, just at different points in their life. They’re both kind of naïve about what really happens in the world; they’re both competitive; they’re both very optimistic and Type A when they want something and their drive. I think it’s good to see us play off each other because they’re also antagonistic and they can push each other’s buttons so that was a lot of fun."
But more than that, for Shirley specifically, Dan Harmon has stolen a little bit from her own life because she really does call everyone "sweetie" and "pumpkin" and feels the need to be the maternal welcome wagon of the group.
And though Pudi had previously told My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture that he wasn't nearly the pop culture aficionado that Abed is, there are other areas that mirror his own behavior. "It's kind of scary," he laughed, "when all of a sudden you're just like 'Yup, totally get this. This is me; this is how I behave.' And then you're just like 'Are Dan Harmon and the writers constantly watching me? What's going on here'?"
Jacobs explained that theirs is a "very humanistic kind of show." The fun they have with each other on set and while shooting scenes easily translated to those of us visiting the set and just as easily translates to those watching from home, as well. And because they all as actors care about each other the same way their characters do, it's easy for "people [at home to] care despite the fact that sometimes they get snippy."
"At the end of the day, all of us as characters care about each other. I think that's what grounds our show," Jacobs hypothesized.