Danny Pudi: "As Far As a Community Movie, I'm In."

In 2009, a TV show called Community premiered on NBC. The sitcom, which was initially positioned as a starring vehicle for The Soup host Joel McHale, quickly gained an incredibly loyal, cult-like following. While all of the characters were engaging and endearing in their own way, it was clear that the focal point of the program was Abed Nadir, the pop culture-obsessed misfit played by Danny Pudi.

After surviving cast changes, cancellations, and a move from traditional television to a new home on Yahoo, the show continues to set the bar for funny, weird, meta sitcoms, with Pudi firmly seated in his study room chair at Greendale Community College. 

This week, Pudi takes a break from life as Abed to join John Moe and musical guest Har Mar Superstar for Minnesota Public Radio's Wits at the Fitzgerald Theater. Before he takes the stage this Friday night, we talked with the actor about mustaches, ESPN documentaries, and whether Community fans will finally see the mythical #SixSeasonsAndAMovie.

Let's get it out of the way: Community made it six seasons. Is the movie happening?

Hashtag sixseasonsandhowdidthishappen. We did an episode about My Dinner with Andre, we've played a lot of paintball, and we did an episode where each of us was  given a container of sperm (spermos) on national television. These are beautiful things that I never imagined I could do for a living. Thanks to awesome supporters of the show, our fans, and Yahoo we're still running through the halls of Greendale. As far as a movie, I'm in. Please tell me when and where to show up.

Over the past several years, the behind-the-scenes drama of Community has been just as talked about (if not more) by fans. Now that the "us vs. them" mentality isn't there anymore, thanks to the Yahoo deal, do you feel any more or less pressure to maintain the quality of the show?

Community has been a wild ride, on and off camera. The show is not normal, and very difficult to shoot because we make every episode stand alone. Then, with being on the bubble every year, cast members leaving, being canceled, and new cast members -- it's been an adventure.

But the show moves on. We are still making each other laugh, and we are still working hard to find new places to explore at Greendale. That's why I love this show. It all starts with Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, and Joel McHale. Dan and Chris's writing is so hilarious and insightful, and no one works harder than Joel McHale. Those guys motivate me to sleep less. 

We loved the ESPN 30 for 30 short you directed last year. How did that come about, and do you have any interest in directing other films or TV shows in the future?

Awwwwwwwww! Thank you. I've always been a big sports fan, and I love the 30 for 30 series. So one normal day, ESPN tweeted me and asked if I was interested in collaborating with them. I laughed, cried, bit off all my fingernails, and finally gained the courage to respond yes. My wife and I came up with a few ideas, and we settled on Bo Ellis and a basketball uniform he helped design for Marquette in 1977. As a Marquette alum that felt like a fun story I wanted to tell. Thankfully, ESPN liked the idea and for some strange reason trusted me enough to tell it.  

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I'd definitely be open to doing it again. 

What else are you working on at the moment?

I'm actually working on another documentary. This one is about a family of musicians. It's early on, but it's a story that I'm really excited about. Besides that, I just completed a pilot for NBC called Strange Calls and I'm in a movie called Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant, which will be in theaters this June. 
Do you have big plans for summer?

This summer I will be spending time with my wife and children, and I might grow a mustache. 

Who do you think would have been the right choice for the new Batman movie: Abed or Ben Affleck?

Definitely Ben Affleck.


Wits with Danny Pudi and Har Mar Superstar
Fitzgerald Theater
Friday, May 8
8 p.m., $31.50-$47.50