How Is 'Community' Like The Muppets?
A rag-tag group of misfits band together in order to accomplish a common goal. That description fits The Muppets just as easily as it fits Community -- a similarity I had never noticed, despite being a massive fan of both, until Yvette Nicole Brown pointed it out to me during a recent chat.
In addition to revealing exactly how Jeff, Shirley, Annie, Britta, Abed, Troy and Pierce are like Kermit, Piggy, Scooter, Gonzo, Rizzo, Sam the Eagle and Statler, Yvette gushed over the Community fans and gave them a few tantalizing teasers about the remainder of season three!
Insider.com: Congrats on the amazing premiere ratings!
Yvette Nicole Brown: Thank you! We were kind of shocked. I don't like to say it, but I wasn't one of the people who thought the numbers would go up. We have great fans but I kind of felt like the ones who were going to watch had already found us – "Thanks for the flashmobs and the goatees, but it's just our little ragtag group of people and we're gonna have to ride this out with out 1.3 million." But they were able to rally their friends and when we got that huge number, I was in shock. Our fans really are magic. We're overjoyed.
Insider: Well, you shouldn't discount the amazing episode -- and proposal -- that was awaiting fans who tuned in.
Yvette: Right before Malcolm [Jamal Warner, who plays Andre] did his first take, I told him it needed to be the most romantic thing that ever happened to me [laughs]. No pressure. In my mind, Theo had asked me to marry him. Shirley was out the door. That was my Huxtable moment and it needed to be brought home to mama. If you watch the scene, I am really not acting. That was Yvette being delighted. I know it's not professional to admit that, but Shirley was nowhere in that scene [laughs] – I was not acting.
Insider: You should have totally done that Muppets Take Manhattan trick where you swap the actor-priest for a real priest!
Yvette: [gasp] I know! If I could have faked Malcolm's signature on a marriage license, we'd be man and wife right now.
Insider: Will we see Malcolm again?
Yvette: Unfortunately we don't have Malcolm again because he was working on a BET show, but Andre is referenced a few more times. If we get a fourth season, we hope to have him back some more. The Shirley and Andre situation has legs – it's such a rich part of who she is, so I don't think we'll ever be done with their story.
Insider: This was the first time you were filming episodes without knowing when they'd air -- was that a strange process?
Yvette: I feel like we were in a bunker or a bomb shelter, waiting out this Nielsen storm, as we continued shooting the show. What was strange was not having a dialogue with the fans on Twitter about whether or not they liked the direction our show was going in. So these are the purest set of Community episodes that will ever be made. These episodes are really for our fans, so the stakes just seemed a little creatively higher for these episodes.
Insider: What are you excited for the fans to see?
Yvette: I hope they see the joy we had making them and I hope they're as delighted by the episodes are we are. And what happens this week sets up an amazing arc for Ken Jeong. It's some of his most ridiculous work – and I mean that in a great way! He's at a level of Chang-ness that the Community universe has never seen. And it all begins tonight. This episode sets off the rest of the season for everyone.
Insider: Obviously the future of Community remains uncertain -- how did you feel while shooting the last episode of season three?
Yvette: We are hopeful. We're a sentimental bunch, me more than most and all of us understand that this group of people – cast, crew, producers, writers – will never be together again once this show is over. So it's not that we aren't sentimental about that, but I think because we are all so close, we all know that we'll see each other. There was no need for, "This is the last time I'm going to see you, Natalie from the prop department" because I'm going to her party next week. There wasn't this feeling that we had to get things in. It wasn't precious in that way, but to think we'll never be back together to create this level of silliness again was in our minds. Now that we had those numbers, it kind of changed our minds – people will show up, so this might turn around. It all comes down to money. And no one's knocking NBC or Sony for the decisions they have to make. Everyone's gotta keep the lights on. If we're not profitable and they can't find a way to make us profitable, then cancel us. But I think we can be profitable and I think we're starting to show that.
Insider: When I mentioned Muppets Take Manhattan earlier, there was a bit of a squeal. Clearly you're a fan?
Yvette: It was such a touchstone for me as a kid and I think Jim Henson was just a genius. I'm not trying to draw too many parallels to Community because The Muppets are so huge, but I feel like they're kind of great in the same way because every kind of freakish person is represented – and accepted. If you like to blow up stuff, if you're a weird-looking thing that loves chickens, if you're a Swedish Chef that makes no sense -- whatever your thing is, you're welcomed. You're accepted. And they all work together to get through their differences. They teach people about love and kindness – I just think they're great and I think a lot of Community mirrors that with the storylines and what we try to show with tolerance.
Insider: The last movie featured a song -- Man or Muppet -- which revealed Jim Parsons to be the human equivalent of Walter. If Yvette were to become a Muppet, who would you be?
Yvette: The easy route is so say Miss Piggy – we have the pink dress and the blonde wig from our Halloween episode. We've both got that sexy voice too. Someone actually did a drawing of Kermit and Gonzo on either side of a picture of Shirley from the Halloween episode, so she was Miss Piggy in that version and it fit so well. The skin shade was a bit off but everything else was identical. So I will go with Piggy. I'm a Kermit girl anyway!
Community airs Thursdays at 8 p.m .on NBC.