It was all about Chevy Chase at Wednesday night's PaleyFest event honoring NBC's freshman comedy "Community."
Throughout the evening, Chase would distract the crowd by uttering random words into his mic, gesturing to the audience, misinterpreting questions and teasing his co-stars. One attendee tweeted afterwards: "Tonight's panel was like 2 in 1: The Community @paleyfest panel and The Chevy Chase Show panel."
But even Fletch couldn't save the night from the R-rated chaos that culminated during the 75-minute session. With subjects ranging from racial-neutral script parts to star Joel McHale's (Jeff) impressive torso, no topic was safe. And boy, did it prove true.
Chase (Pierce), who fell from his chair after saying several times that he couldn't hear (yes, it really happened), was easily the star of the evening, but not without some stiff competition from his co-stars. Donald Glover (Troy) shared an entertaining story about his first meeting with co-star Ken Jeong (Señor Chang), saying it was pretty rare to walk into the room and see a guy you've already seen naked. And many of McHale's zingers were aimed squarely at Chase.
When creator Dan Harmon ("The Sarah Silverman Program") took to the podium to introduce Thursday's episode, "Physical Education," he likened it to something that didn't have vampires, referencing the current craze. But quickly took his statement back, and you'll see why when the episode airs. In 22 minutes, the comedy paid homage to "Mad Men," went supernatural, named pool a legitimate sport and showed McHale in his skivvies. The best part? There might be more nudity than viewers are expecting, which McHale teased to earlier this week.
Still game? Let's venture forth.
Casting the main roles on any show is always hit-or-miss, but on a comedy, the chemistry between actors is even more essential. When it came down to the lead role, it seemed pretty simple who Harmon and the crew were going with. "Joel was first in," executive producer and director Joe Russo said. "We thought we could build a show [around him]."
Though many knew of McHale as the charmingly snarky host of E!'s "The Soup," the guy could act. Jeong said his favorite scenes were often the one-on-ones with McHale. Chase chimed in: "And what about that torso?" (It'll only make sense after Thursday's episode.) Cue huge cheers.
Next up was the role of Pierce. "We had a meeting with Chevy and he fell asleep. Then he woke up and talked about his money problems," Russo joked. Chase in turn showed his healthy stash of $20 bills.
To cast the part of Britta, Harmon had a specific idea of what he wanted her to be like: two parts "completely full of herself" and two parts sincere, according to Russo. Plus, it was the toughest role to cast. "I've played a lot of [drugged-out] teenage prostitutes," Gillian Jacobs (Britta) said of her previous work.
Jeong's character wasn't in the pilot, but when Señor Chang was introduced in the second episode, the actor didn't miss a beat. "Ken is a genius. He makes funny wherever he goes," Glover said.
And the reason "Community" works? "Greendale's a crazy place where crazy things can happen," Harmon said. "But, the people are real."
Here are some of the evening's highlights, or at least what could be understood from the insanity:
-- The evening was moderated by Entertainment Weekly's John Young, who has recapped "Community" for the mag since the pilot. Though a fan of the show, he has "taken the show to task," which prompted Harmon to respond via Twitter about running a character named EW PopWatch over with a car.
-- In order to shoot the naked pool match in "Physical Education," McHale had to take some necessary actions so as not to embarass himself. "I shaved down. I had lots of unwanted hair I never knew I had," McHale said. "I went on the 'You're going to be naked in two weeks' diet."
-- When it came time to shoot, having McHale wearing nothing but flesh-toned underwear all week long garnered different reactions. Depending on who you asked, it was either "too much or not enough," Glover said.
-- The kiss at the end of the episode "was better than the kiss I had with Danny Bonaduce," McHale said, adding it's always weird to kiss someone who has stubble. ("Boy Meets World's" Blake Clark, who played Shawn's father on the '90s show, guest stars as the physical ed teacher.)
-- Observations from the episode: Jeff wears a badass motorcycle jacket. Britta says bagels like "bah-gels." Abed gets matched up with the help of his fellow study group members. Abed and Troy are the second coming of Bert and Ernie. Who knew there was an official pool-playing outfit? Abed's second version of himself takes on a vampire form. Jeff gets hit on in his "pool shorts." Abed plays a mean Don Draper and almost wins over Annie.
-- Harmon's community college experience in Glendale at 32 years old prompted the idea for "Community." When he began acing tests in biology class, his struggling counterparts approached him to form a study group. It was through study sessions in the library that he realized he actually liked the people he was with. Executive producer Garrett Donovan added that the community college setting was the only way they envisioned the concept working, since it allowed for a diversity in age.
-- According to Donovan, improv has become a very crucial part of the show.
-- When asked if he's learned anything from Chase, McHale gave several: "How not to match my clothes. Chevy is like Nolan Ryan, in that he's still alive." Cue laughter. "He's the funniest guy on set ... and then he calls you a prick. He's great. If he read the scripts, it'd be even greater." Zing.
-- In the urban version of "Community," Glover would be the star, Rev. Run would play his father, he would try to sell Britta, there would be more bling and "yo" would be used regularly.
-- On working with a younger cast: "I feel so much younger working with them (the rest of the cast) ... actually no, I don't. I feel like an old ship," Chase said. "They all have their own [skills], like a Home Depot. ... Joel's a toolmaster."
-- "I come from YouTube," Glover said, which caused his co-stars to tease him incessantly. Like the planet?
-- McHale gave a glimpse into a future episode they're currently shooting, in which Chevy's character thinks he's a wizard. And apparently, it's quite hilarious.
-- According to Harmon and Russo, one of the next episodes is a 20-minute action movie. "It's like 'The Warriors' meets 'I Am Legend' meets 'Battle Royale' meets 'Die Hard,' " McHale said. "Any time I get to say 'Get some bitches!' in something, it's going to be good!," Glover added.
-- McHale described Harmon's weird take on comedy sitcoms in a rather profound way, after comparing him to "some kind of strange oracle." "It seems he's immortal and has learned our ways," he said. "Whenever there is a convention of television that has been used for years, he will take that, scrunch it up, spit on it, eat it, poop it out ... then he'll put it in the script."
-- During the audience Q&A session, a fan suggested McHale tackle the Fletch role if a new movie were ever greenlit. "I don't know how you could top that performance," McHale said modestly. Chase, however, said McHale would be a great Fletch because one day, he'll be dead.
-- A person wondered if Abed was supposed to have Aspergers Syndrome because of his quirky personality. "All the writers are kind of like Abed," Harmon said. More appropriate comparisons included Data or Spock. (In the episode, Abed was also likened to God. Another possibility?)
-- The best description of "Community" ended the chaotic night on a high note. "It feels like I'm playing poker with my friends and saying stupid stuff," the fan said, adding that the antics onscreen don't feel scripted at all.