I am 95 percent certain that I am somehow doing this wrong but I'm jumping in with both feet. You can verify that I am the real me because I will say so on my twitter feed and if that's not enough let me know! Okay. Grandpa signing off.

Comments: 1062 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

thefidelitywars240 karma

Which of the flashbacks from last night's episode was the hardest to give up the possibility of doing as a full episode? In fact do you think you will come back to some of those flashback ideas and turn them into full episodes?

danharmon337 karma

The idea of them going camping was the hardest to "burn up," with an honorary mention to the haunted house. But I also felt like those things could be revisited and it wouldn't matter too much that they "had done" them once before. I did have anxieties galore about this general area, and kept saying annoying stuff in the writers room like "well, Britta we can say has been to Europe but we can't just imply as a joke that the whole group was in Germany because we don't know these guys well enough," for instance, I've always felt that Jeff and Abed are not very well traveled, I feel like those stories are yet to be told. So I split the difference with absurdity and vagueness, i.e., a ghost town could be 2 miles from campus, and there's Latino drug runners with guns to Pierce's head but we don't know if they were in Tijuana or a theme park in Colorado. I tried to leave as much "wiggle room" as possible. Good frickin' question!

Scarker112 karma

What did you think of CBS's decision to move Big Bang Theory against Community?

I have a feeling I already know though.

danharmon291 karma

I remember sitting here, on the same couch I'm sitting on now, when CBS did its upfronts and announced that Big Bang Theory was moving to 8 on Thursday. I remember some CBS programming vice douche being quoted as saying something like "let's face it, nobody's setting the world on fire thursdays at 8." it was like they were stomping into the garden of Eden and specifically pointing out that they were able to do so because I, in particular, was a lightweight. What did I think? I thought, "of course." I thought, I came all this way, and this season was going to be my season. I thought, I never asked for a better time slot, I was actually happy at 8. I was honored to be the MC for an evening of classic NBC comedies. I thought...I'm dead. I thought...of course. I thought: I have to do everything, now. Now I have to just live through the night. And if I do, they'll applaud me. I thought: one day a helicopter will come and lift me out of here. I thought: I miss Hart Hanson. I miss Vampire Diaries being my Moriarty. I thought: I need to set the world on fire. I thought: the CBS guy that said that, I want him to regret saying it. I want him to feel the shame he just made me feel, times a million. I thought, I can do this. I thought a million things. I mostly thought that I was an awesome martyr. And that this was the beginning of a story with me as the hero. I thought vapors. None of it matters, anymore, what I thought. But you asking that made me remember that for the first time in a while. That was definitely one of the strangest moments of my life. I thought, mainly, that I was pretty much toast.

danharmon241 karma

by the way, I was CLEARLY drunk when I wrote that answer.

jmchao32 karma

Are you, like McHale, a scotch man?

danharmon71 karma

I was scotch til about 2003, then switched to vodka rocks.

thefidelitywars34 karma

Thank you, and thanks for your answer.

Would you say that Community is one of the most complex programmes to write (for you or the team) while also being the most enjoyable to work on? That's how it comes across from everything I've read about the process.

danharmon202 karma

Yes. Several of the writers are quitting because the hours were insane. Other than a three act story, there was no consistent template to the show, so every episode had a week to be conceived and executed from scratch, almost as if we were doing a pilot each week. I still owe my girlfriend an anniversary because I was in the edit bay working on Halloween. My girlfriend can justify it, because she knows how rare and important this opportunity is, and if the show sells in syndication, we get super rich, but imagine being someone that's not getting paid any more to write my show than they would get paid to write Glee, where everyone's clearly home by 5. Imagine having husbands and children and fiances, and coming home at 3am, and when they ask why it took so long, the answer is "Dan decided at eleven pm that it needed to be like The Matrix, not like Popeye." I have no doubt that the writers that worked on season 2 of Community worked harder than any writing staff in the world (so did the cast and crew, but that wasn't your question). I also think they will be proud of the work they did for the rest of their lives.

thesmash35 karma

What do I have to do to become a writer?

danharmon110 karma

Write a "spec script" for your favorite show, or at least the one you feel most excited about writing. If it feels more exciting to write your OWN show, do that. Follow your bliss on that decision, I don't believe there's a strategic advantage, there's pros and cons to both roads. Here's the hard part: get an agent. I lucked out there, I don't know how to go about getting one without lucking out. I just wrote my sample script and I kept giving it to anyone that would take it, and it had my phone number on it, and one day, my phone rang, and that was my new agent calling. There's got to be a better way to do it, I'm not the guy that knows. If you're asking what you have to do to become a writer on Community, it's all of the above, and then tell your agent, "I really, really, really want to write on Community, it's my absolute first choice, I would do anything to write on that show." If your agent isn't too much of a con artist, he'll have someone he can get the script to at Sony TV, NBC, or one of the producers. This time of year, we read as many scripts as we can. Talent will out. If it's TV comedy that's your ambition, you need a decent sample script for a TV comedy out there, and, I hate to be "this guy," but you really want to demonstrate your ability to tell a clear joke, in your particular taste, on the first page. A one-liner or a couplet. Show the reader that you can take them by the hand and walk them through a succession of pages in which everything is clear as glass. At the staff writer level, nobody needs you to be a visionary. I'd rather feel your confidence and enthusiasm for TV than your heroically jaded attitude toward it, but that's just me talking.

stony_rain227 karma

When is Abed's love interest coming back?

danharmon176 karma

I'll take that as a rhetorical question and the 60 points as a vote for her to come back. I like the idea, too.

danharmon146 karma

Okay, don't know if this is where I type this but I have to stop doing this. I'm really embarrassed and sorry that I didn't "get" the most fundamental aspect of an AMA was an all-in-one-sitting thing. I tried to make up for it with volume. Sorry sorry sorry. I'll do it right next time, or should I come back to this same one? I'll figure it out. White people problems. Got milk? Talk to the hand. Gonna go watch my girlfriend sing Metallica. I love you guys. For realz.

danharmon100 karma

To clarify, I mean I have to stop doing this NOW, not forever. Fingers tired. A lot of these questions are really great and I don't even think I've had a chance to read them all. I really appreciate your interest and I'll be back.

minimallyeschew124 karma

Are there any jokes you have put in the script that you feel the audience has missed?

vexsten123 karma

Glee club dying (in a flashback from the last episode)--wish of the death of Glee the TV show?

danharmon722 karma

I have no idea what you mean. There was a glee club at Greendale, and their bus was driving on a rainy night, and a downed power line was hanging across the road, and the bus drove through it, and it sliced through the bus and decapitated everyone, row by row, so that the people in the back had to watch all their friends get decapitated, then they got decapitated, and then the bus drove into a pool of lava. And I guess the crazy thing is, the electricity from the power line somehow kept their nervous systems "alive," so they could feel the lava. They didn't escape the pain of the lava just because they didn't have heads. They felt the lava. It was terrible but it was not metaphorical in any way. I would never be that petty and envious of another show's popularity.

danharmon117 karma

In the episode where Britta steals Abed's Kickpuncher 3: The Final Kickening Blu Ray to frame Lukka, she refers to it as "Kickmuncher." I don't remember seeing anybody "laughing" at that online, which means nobody thought it was funny (perfectly acceptable explanation) or that nobody heard it. I loved that.

CheckItsOn121 karma

Before "Critical Film Studies" (Abed's birthday, Pulp Fiction, My Dinner With Andre) aired you tweeted that it would be the episode that got you fired. I think a lot of the appeal of Community is that we can expect you to push the creative envelope of what a sitcom is; It's the antidote to "Canned Bad Sitcoms." What about that episode concerned you? By the way, loved "Heat Vision and Jack." Wish that could've gone further. Thanks for the AMA.

danharmon261 karma

There's no setup-punchline comedy in the Abed story. He has a 4 page monologue in which he says "Cougartown" 14 times. There had been no table read of the script, which isn't normally terrifying, but there was an experimental tone to the script and we were shooting it without having heard a single person react to it from an outside perspective. The director, Richard Ayoade, who is not only British, which is already intimidating, but who created Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, which is the Heat Vision and Jack of the UK (but SUCCESSFUL) was literally being handed the pages he needed to shoot the day he needed to shoot them. For this reason, and because the studio and network execs were so busy arguing over the editing of a scene in "Celebrity Pharmacology," I felt like nobody REALLY knew what we were shooting. One exec saw the pages for the Cougartown monologue the day we were shooting it, and said to Neil, "do you guys know what you're doing?" Which perfectly sums up the contents of my head and heart at that time. With freedom comes accountability. Before you guys saw it and liked it, it felt like I was making Apocalypse Now. At one point, one of the EPs was wandering the diner set asking people if they thought Pulp Fiction was a reference anyone would understand. Those were the "normal" scenes and even they were too weird? I started to lose my mind. I felt like everyone was just waiting for me to fall down so they could eat me alive. Two writers got us to the end of that script, although all the writers worked their asses off on it: Neil Goldman, who never panicked, and who offered up the Cougar Town connection, and Megan Ganz, who, at my lowest point, said something so personally inspiring that it made me cry and which I can no longer recall, because - and this is the most important answer to your question - I'm nuts.

skoo34 karma

Dan, I'm from the UK but thanks to the magic of the internet I am up to date with all the aired episodes. I don't know how much of a say you have in these things but please don't let Viva air season 2 over here. Go with E4 or any of the Channel 4 family - they suit your series so much more. They are streets ahead of Viva.

danharmon54 karma

I'm afraid I have zero control over that kind of thing. Sorry. But I'm glad you're into the show, I wasn't sure how it would translate overseas.

sweetdisposition108 karma

I live in England, so I stream all community episodes online... illegally. Are you OK with this? I love the show but we are like a season behind over here. SORRY <3

danharmon126 karma

I can't give you permission to steal from the studio but I'll just say I'm glad you're able to get it and enjoy it. I wish we could get our S together as a planet of viewers, you'd think the upside of the New World Order would be 600 channels of awesome international TV. I can't even get Darkplace anywhere but youtube, I need my girlfriend to see that show really bad.

ClockOut95 karma

Er... is he coming back?

danharmon109 karma

I'm sorry about my in-and-outness, trust me, this format will have me coming back for a while, typing about how smart I am to smart people kind of trumps minecraft, but what trumps it all is I am trying to assemble a writing staff of geniuses for season 3 and the only way to do that is to read A LOT OF scripts.

SteveAM149 karma

What's the most popular show for spec scripts these days?

danharmon80 karma

Seems like Modern Family.

ScottColvin33 karma

On a scale of 1-10 how nervous is the Studio about what you do?

P.S. I do miss Chang as an authority figure. His comeback would be epic in every wrong way. Making the group pay for their treatment of him would be great.

danharmon99 karma

It's got to be 10. A studio only makes money off a show if it lasts long enough to be syndicated (usually 100 episodes). Before that, they're just heavily invested into something that a network at least gets to monetize with advertising. When we're celebrating a season's pickup, some guy somewhere is just getting a bigger ulcer, because the studio now has an even bigger pile of chips on the line. Yeah, it also brings them one step closer to an even bigger payout, but until that day arrives, I am Charles Manson to them. I actually sympathize more with them than myself. I believe they may fantasize about poisoning me. I don't blame them. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I'm nuts.

Tiak78 karma

Can you tell me exactly when you plan on jumping the shark?

I'd prefer it to happen with a literal shark.

danharmon178 karma

I have always felt that 8 years is a perfect length of time to be really really good friends with a group of people. So I will have them all open a tropical fish store in year 6, and in year 7, the fish store will accidentally receive a shark delivery, which they will jump, and in year 8, everyone will grow a beard and disintegrate in lava.

drfartbrain76 karma

How has the network reacted to some of the more daring creative choices the show has taken as of late? Some of the non-genre spoofing episodes, especially "Competitive Wine Tasting" and "Paradigms of Human Memory," are really daring, both in structure and in content. Have the bosses upstairs taken exception to these sorts of things?

(I'm all for them, by the way, and think they're just what TV comedy needs at this point.)

danharmon102 karma

There's never any guff about the content. The network is fantastically reverent of the creative. Their S&P department is as nice and helpful as you can get, they're just there to keep TV from getting regulated by the government. It's a great place to have a TV show. In a larger sense, though, everyone likes to talk about the weird episodes and the normal episodes. That's what everyone focuses on. They see a big, thick, clear line between the two categories. But when you ask someone to list the normal episodes, they either get quiet, because they don't want to be wrong, or they start rattling off episodes and quickly find that their lists differ from someone next to them. This is human nature. Everyone wants less of what they don't like and more of what they do like, and everybody wants to think their preference is normal and the things they don't like are weird. It can be exhausting and annoying to writers because none of that language has any meaning, it's like a doctor standing over a woman in labor saying "make the baby normal!" But that lack of meaning can be the writer's best friend, because you can just tell the doctor that's a fantastic idea, a normal baby, you're a genius, I'll make a normal baby, thank God you were here, and then everybody's happy.

vaud69 karma

No questions, but just wanted to say thanks for making the best show currently on tv!

edit: Actually, one comment: It's great to see the show stay consistently funny/keep evolving & pushing boundaries. I really haven't seen a show stay consistent over its run, which is somewhat surprising. I guess this is more of a comment about the state of tv in general, but whatever.

danharmon125 karma

Thank you for saying thank you. Which gives me an opportunity to add: I'm sorry that I don't always say "thank you" on twitter when someone tweets me to do the most valuable, classiest thing of all, which is simply say they enjoy the show. That stuff keeps all of us going, it's the only thing I'm getting out of bed for, and yet, I don't often respond with a thank you of my own, because I was raised in Wisconsin, where, if someone says you're awesome, and you don't correct them, you are an arrogant dick, and if you actually say "thanks" you are going to get hit by a lightning bolt made of cancer. Maybe I shouldn't blame Wisconsin for this. At any rate, I try to remind myself to go through and give a nice, non-ironic "thanks" to the cool majority out there, but it's so fun to talk to dicks on twitter that a lot of times, people get the impression that the only way to get my attention is by being a dick. I'm not going to stop engaging jerks until it gets personally boring to me, but I really am sorry if it ever gives cool people a sense of futility. It really is okay to just like something and say so. And when someone says they liked something I made, it's like eating a pint of Chubby Hubby but without my chest hurting. So thank you thank you thank you.

yiyo8163 karma

Hi Dan, First, congrats for such an excellent show. My question: Since Señor Chang is a student; I think he has lost some of his “charm” from 1st season. Is there a chance that he returns as a Spanish teacher? I kind of miss the Spanish-class-related episodes.


PS: NBC store needs a "Human Being" toy :D

danharmon128 karma

I think that Chang's craziness did function better in a position of authority. I didn't want to have everyone keep taking Spanish after year 1 so I thought I'd see what would happen if we took the lid off and just let him be like the Fonz, there when you need him, but I predict Chang will once again have power over the study group in some way in season 3.

lilbowski60 karma

How hot is Allison Brie in real life?

danharmon238 karma

Super hot. I'm constantly forgetting she's a dude!

ManOfPopsicle60 karma

Oh wow, first Donald and Danny and now this! I don't know if you guys just love the site or what but this is a real treat.

What are some of your favorite lines that the actors have ad-libbed? I know there are some great improvisers on the cast.

danharmon108 karma

The crown jewel probably has to be "I have the weirdest boner," which was improvised by Donald. Gillian cracks me up whenever Britta is trying to be "awesome" in any way: Gillian did the "snake" move, which really opened my eyes to Britta's potential. And she did that awkward Chapelle-wu-tang hip-hop "bark" at the end of the first act of the "Abed becomes a Mean Girl" story. My favorite "ad lib" of season 2 had to go on the cutting room floor because it messed up the rhythm of the scene, but there was a moment in Mixology when drunk Britta makes a raspberry at Jeff, and then this pretty gross but therefore awesome drop of drool falls off her lip onto her sweater. I think Gillian just knew it was there and committed to it. She is an incredible actor.

reboptik55 karma

What will it take for you to be my mentor?

danharmon143 karma

I promise that anything I do worth emulating can be observed safely from afar. The closer you get, the more likely you'll be confused and disgusted, so, I'm as much your mentor as I can be already.

orange_jooze7 karma

I just noticed the "gleefan09" thing. Heh.

danharmon34 karma

I don't remember doing that, I think someone at reddit is having fun? my username is danharmon so what's that "gleefan09" next to it? I mean, it's true, I'm a fan, and I'm nine.

reckonergolsen49 karma

Hey Dan, awesome that you are on here! My questions a two parter;

*Did you hear about the AmA's from Donald and Danny?

*When is Bill Murray going to be on the show? I think its high time Chevy met back up with Bill.

CheckItsOn20 karma

Amy Poehler's already asked Bill Murray to do an episode of Parks and Rec. on her most recent Fallon appearance. She even offered to pay him five-hundred dollars! We don't want our NBC Thursday siblings quarreling. Unless it's to move Paul Reiser to another night. Nice guy, I'm sure, but let the kids have Thursday night.

danharmon54 karma

That really bums me out. There's a role I've dreamed of him playing on the show since the pilot.

beatsalad15 karma

Wait, can you link me to Danny's AMA?

alettuce23 karma

Try not to read it in his voice.

danharmon72 karma

where's Donald's? I saw some of Danny's, it made me really happy. Danny helped me get on here because I was less embarrassed to ask him how to do it than one of you guys.

citruselectro44 karma

What would you say is your proudest moment on the show? Like a moment that made you think or say to yourself "Fuck yeah, I'm Dan Harmon"

danharmon167 karma

This is going to be a boring story for everyone but me. When we were in San Diego for last year's comic con, I was walking down the sidewalk behind most of the cast. From my vantage point, I could see a group of young girls walking in front of us, and I watched one of them notice Alison and Danny, and start whispering to her friends, which made me socially anxious. I knew there were fans out there but I did not assume random people LIKED the show, so I assumed they were whispering, "there's those dumb people from that crappy show, on the count of three, let's throw rocks at them and run away so we have a story to tell" Instead, it turned out they were trying to figure out how to "sneak" a picture of themselves standing near Alison and Danny. And when the cast realized this, they offered to take pictures with them, and the girls got REALLY happy, and I was like, "whew, they were fans," but then we were sort of blocking pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk, and a larger group of people was coming, so again, my social anxieties leapt up, like, oh no, now this large group is going to have to walk around us and be annoyed and mutter things under their breath about the cast that only I'll hear and it'll make me sad all night. And the large group came up, and paused, and said "holy shit it's Abed, it's Annie, it's Troy, it's Shirley," and everyone started taking pictures of each other with the cast. Nobody had anywhere better to be somewhere up the sidewalk, everyone that walked by was happy that they got a chance to be near these people. They felt LUCKY that the sidewalk was obstructed. And I did distinctly think, in that moment, "Fuck Yeah, I'm Dan Harmon...which might not be synonymous with bumming people out anymore."

minimallyeschew42 karma

What is your favorite episode you have filmed?

danharmon84 karma

It's too hard. I'll go with the Chicken Fingers episode, I have a special relationship with that one.

[deleted]41 karma

Thank you SO much for doing this. My questions aren't related to Community, but I do think the show's brilliant, so, uh, good job with that.

Can we get your top 3 desert-island lists? :D

  • Top 3 sitcoms?

  • Top 3 movies?

  • Top 3 books?

If you could live in any century/era, what would it be and why?

If you could meet one person, who would it be and why?

danharmon99 karma

Cheers, Simpsons, Gilligan's Island Star Wars, Network, Annie Hall The Iliad, Hamlet, Hero with a Thousand Faces

Century/era: the eighties. Women dressed the hottest, TV was the best, movies were the best, music was the best, pornography was the best, everyone wanted it to be the future, you didn't have to dance very well, you just had to kind of bob up and down, it was equally cool to be high or a nerd, and I could be a triple platinum rap star just by rhyming "street" with "feet."

Person: Joseph Campbell.

ColdWar19 karma

I don't mean to piggyback onto this thread with my question, but when you mentioned Joseph Campbell I remembered reading something on the Channel 101 forum about your 8-point outline of story structure. When you come up with storylines for Community do you still follow that same structure?

danharmon35 karma

I do. It's how I think about story. It's infected the rest of the writing staff but I didn't force it that way, I believe that if a story model really works, it's because it works, so anybody that has their own model is always free to use it, but I personally can't get beyond a simple circle.

xrsd39 karma

DUDE. I download community at 2am every week in scotland. Cheers.

Do you feel a certain amount of pressure due to the reviews and fan support?

The fact that a huge amount of people here, the avclub, all over the interwebs kinda view your show to be like the earliest seasons of the simpsons is a pretty huge testament to the quality.

Sidebar - Favourite comedians? the fact you have had Patton Oswalt on is a huge thing for me, i would love to see Paul F Tompkins at some point.

Extra Credit - Any chance that kickpuncher may show up on channel 101?

danharmon46 karma

Tompkins is in an episode! "Mixology Certification."

It's easy not to feel pressure when your ratings are this low. I mean, if I accidentally start making the show a little shittier, it kind of feels like the ratings will go up, doesn't it? If anything, I am under a tremendous amount of pressure to water this soup WAY down. And I don't just mean pressure from the outside, I mean, I'm the one saying it these days. Because I don't know how many fewer people can watch a TV show. I think I'm about to set some kind of horrible record. I guess I'm mostly kidding, because I do have an uncontrollable compulsion to make things be the best I think they can be, but no, sir, I do not feel any pressure to keep getting a 1.4.

xhytdr36 karma

How much of an influence is Arrested Development on Community?

danharmon48 karma

I was very influenced by its timing, which felt faster than other live action sitcoms.

Legandir-IE35 karma

First off thanks for making this awesome show.

One of the great things about Community is the feeling that anything can happen. You've mentioned that the Halloween episode went too far into being unbelievable. How would you recognise that so you can stop it from happening again and how would you have changed the Halloween episode if you had to remake it?

danharmon74 karma

There's 8 million things I'd change about every episode, and I'd never stop changing them and then they'd never air. To the other part of your question, when judging the tonal boundaries of a story, I imagine myself reading about the events in a newspaper the next day. If I'm thinking while reading the article, "this is boring, why is this in a newspaper," I'm safely within the bounds of a sitcom, but if it merits a cover of Time Magazine, we might be stretching the fabric too hard. That's why I gave everyone amnesia. So that, 40 episodes from now, when Jeff and Britta are arguing about Jeff's new mustache, nobody can say, "guys, this argument is kind of petty given the recent discovery that the United States government is hiding a biological weapon that turns people into zombies."

ClockOut35 karma

When did you find out that "steets ahead" is a really common phrase in Britain/Australia etc. ?

I'm from the UK and that joke always confused the hell out of me.

danharmon100 karma

I found out after we shot it. Funny thing is, a lot of American viewers keep stumbling onto incidental uses of the phrase in European press and mistaking it for the viral spread of my awesome invention. I feel like correcting them would be streets behind.

_greg32 karma

It seems that a number of the episodes take place in Abed's head in some way; the Christmas special has the group join Abed in a fictional world, even if they don't see it and the Dungeons and Dragons episode, while taking place in the collective imagination of the group, is being lead by Abed.

Those episodes, amongst others (Documentary Filmmaking, Abed as Jesus), and comments by members of the group ("Abed, when is your reality going to come out on BluRay?"), make me wonder if Community is the new Dallas and all of the episodes are a dream taking place in Abed's head.

danharmon51 karma

I would never do that specific injustice to an audience, but we do joke about it all the time. And I am not ruling out the idea that they are all in purgatory and Abed is a kind of Mister Rourke or Jigsaw, testing and torturing them.

byrno10130 karma

With all the themed episodes you've done is there any theme the network hasn't let you guys produce?

danharmon85 karma

Nope. There is one that seemed "cursed," and that was the Election Theme. We tried to do a very similar one last season, in which Jeff becomes the puppetmaster behind Troy's new political career - one which is brought on by a chicken finger shortage - and the table read for the script was so shitty that we threw the entire thing out, and with two days to shooting, rewrote it with Abed at the center instead of Troy, and made it an organized crime story instead of a political story. That of course became the Chicken Fingers episode we know. But I did always like the political story, so we tried to resurrect it again this season, and it was a fricking catastrophe. We ended up pulling together a decent episode in the edit bay, but if you were there for the process leading up to it, you would say, "holy crap, this story does NOT want to be told." And it pretty much never will be, because what started as Jeff coaching Troy became Jeff running against Annie, and we basically bailed, filled it with jokes and ran for our damn lives.

interludes28 karma

  • How long did it take to shoot last night's episode?
  • Who is the most fun to work with (actor-wise) on the show?
  • Are there any jokes you thought would be hilarious that ended up as flops or that didn't get the reception you expected? Or vice versa: jokes you didn't think were very funny that people loved?

danharmon40 karma

It took the usual five days, I believe, to shoot Human Memory. We may have gone into six, it's hard to remember now. I know it was a bitch for everybody. We did one of the days on the Universal lot, which a lot of you media junkies probably recognized. the destroyed house is from the set of War of the Worlds.

TeddyPierce28 karma

If you had to pick one character to be stuck on a desert island with who would you choose and why

danharmon62 karma

As tempted as I'm sure we'd all be to pick our favorite girl, I think the person choosing Abed below makes the most survival sense. Abed was able to sit in a chair and do nothing for so long that it drove a psychology professor insane. And his pop cultural index combined with his craftsmanship could make him a human holodeck and possibly keep YOUR insanity from setting in. Second to Abed, I think Annie's industriousness and idealism could help you create a functional living situation, but I also think she might go nuts because she has a lot of social needs. If I had to bet on any two of the characters surviving the longest together on a desert island, I think it's Annie and Abed.

Pandazel27 karma

Was it always the shows intention to take the direction it has with Troy and Abed or did that end up changing due to their chemistry together? /cue Gravity

bbatsell25 karma

They answer this one in the commentaries on the Season 1 DVDs (if I recall correctly). The answer is no, Troy was supposed to be paired up with Chevy Pierce as people with very similar (immature) senses of humor. You can see the first stabs at that in the first few episodes. Troy and Abed developed organically.

danharmon68 karma

this is true. Don't know if I explained this on the DVD, but we were shooting the Halloween episode when NBC told us they were changing their format slightly, and as such, shows would require 30 second "tags" to run during the credits (they used to put commercials there but everyone started flipping channels). So it was this stroke of luck that, even though the writers are usually 6 weeks AHEAD of the viewer, and therefore less able to adjust to feedback with any real agility, in terms of these "tags," we were literally shooting them the day before they aired. So we "realized" within the same 24 hour time period as you guys did that these two were the most adorable, funniest combination of talent in the history of flesh and blood, and that's how the "tradition" of the tags being Troy and Abed centered got jump started. There was a point when I tried to "not wear it out" by doing a tag with other characters, and the audience came to my house with pitchforks and torches so I thought, "hey, sometimes you gotta accept that you are not calling all the shots."

lessthaninfinite26 karma

Last night's episode was amazing... so much hilarity packed into 22 minutes. Joel and I think others claimed that 72 scenes were shot, but someone here counted 55... Anything super awesome get left on the proverbial cutting room floor?

danharmon48 karma

Nope. We couldn't afford to cut anything - time wise. This rarely happens to us, we usually have the opposite problem, but the editor's cut of that episode (usually up to five minutes over) was UNDER. We freaked out. That's when I contacted Justin Roiland about doing an animated tag. We had one other idea about how to "pad out" the episode, which Chris McKenna wrote, and it's pretty great, but it required picking up shots and we were too under the gun and about to wrap production. So we did a 90 second cartoon (90 is the max allowable tag length in NBC's format). I guess having all those rapid cuts, each with its own slugline, exaggerated the traditional disparity between page count and runtime.

digifreak64225 karma

In the last year, Community and Parks & Rec have arguably become the most critically acclaimed sitcoms on the air. Both shows get lots of love from the AV Club, Alan Sepinwall, etc. However, so far award shows have not given you as much love. Why do you think this is?

I think that Sepinwall and Todd VDW are probably smarter than the people who vote on those awards. However, I know that if you won the Best Comedy Emmy you would be ecstatic. What do you think are the chances of being nominated in the fall?

danharmon36 karma

I'm going to go ahead and get my hopes up for some nominations this year. Maybe not the biggies, and I don't care if we actually win anything, but I expect that the name of our show could be involved this time and I won't have to write minivan commercials just to be remembered during the telecast. We really need awareness of our show. I know that needing something doesn't make it more likely to happen, but we need it so bad, and this would be the thing that gave it to us. Just being nominated for anything could really get some eyeballs on us for season 3. I have a feeling in my gut about this year's awards that I did not have last year. I know that it's going to be Parks and Rec's year but I feel like we might be INVOLVED. That's all I gotta say about that. Wisconsin karmic jinx issues.

TheGesus24 karma

You've been working with, among others, the Russo brothers. How far in advance of the payoff are some jokes planted? Or: It looks to me like Community has a fairly well-mapped idea of where to go with its storylines, so do you tease them well in advance of the episode payoff?

I am surprised to see you on here answering questions, so I can't say I have a bunch of stuff prepared to ask, but I love your work and look forward to seeing your replies to the questions that stick out to you.

danharmon38 karma

I've never gotten good results from too much planning, so anything you see being setup in one episode and paying off in another is most likely an organic process. I do think I would like to experiment, in season three, with a little bit of strategic forethought. It seems like the proper thing to do now that we're "growing up" as a show.

[deleted]24 karma

Thanks for doing this and for creating the show! Is there anything you could tease us with about season 3? Congratulations on the renewal.

danharmon58 karma

I believe that this is the year we should be meeting Jeff's father.

zenlogick18 karma

Wow thanks for taking the time

Community fucking kicks ass. Please keep kicking ass and entertaining me. Thanks.

My question: How much of the writing do you do personally?

danharmon34 karma

A lot. But a lot less in season 2. As time goes on, the writers that stick around get accustomed to your sensibility, and the new writers that come in are huge fans of the finished product. So if you do it right, you're needed a little bit less in the trenches from year to year. That would make the powers that be really happy because the show is too dependent on me, and I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I'm nuts.

[deleted]18 karma

Can you promise me a return of the blanket fort (or something similar) from "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design"?

danharmon49 karma

I think so. I kind of feel like we wasted that fort.

[deleted]17 karma


danharmon42 karma

One of the foremost survival traits that Channel 101's battleground naturally selects is something I call "modularity" of franchise. As opposed to "serialized." People that end their channel 101 shows with "to be continued" have about a 90 percent chance of getting canceled just on principle. A modular show's episodes exist comfortably as part of a whole, but, more importantly, each episode functions on its own. That's vital when a bunch of people may already love your show, but a bunch more have never seen it, or hate it, or are too drunk to remember the previous episode. The shows that tend to survive are the shows that can please them all, by assuming generally NOTHING about the audience's point of view. This rains down into an emphasis on story, character and versatility, particularly with respect to genre. So you can see how, when I started drowning in season one, the gills that popped out were 100 percent previous adaptations to the watery world of Channel 101. The philosophical relationship between the artist and the audience at Channel 101 has also benefited me at Community. Channel 101 is non-profit. The audience pays nothing and has total power over the artist, who receives no money, and is therefore forced to admit to themself that their AMBITION is to please the audience. It's pretty helpful to be able to confess that to yourself. It clears up your runway pretty fast.

disembodiedgeniehead17 karma

How come you never played a cameo like Dino Stamatopoulos's Star-burns? That would be awesome (hint hint)

danharmon37 karma

In season one, one of the writers outlined a story in which that Dean I played in the web videos makes an appearance. I went with the flow and accepted it, didn't want to be cutesy humble, didn't feel like I had a reason, so I just let it be. The next day, I got a toxically patronizing phone call from a casting executive, breaking the really sad news to me that I can't just "write myself and my friends [Starburns] into the show." It made me so angry and embarrassed that I will never allow any talk of me appearing in Community ever again. I enjoy performing, but I want to keep enjoying it, because I'm not so good at it that I can do it in spite of what I feel, and my five seconds in that glorious role made me feel like puking. Not the life for me.

[deleted]16 karma

What was the moment in last night's episode that you teased on Twitter caused your "biggest, longest laugh" of the series so far?

danharmon44 karma

I was talking about the span of time from the robot and hot dog costume to the Dean running out crying, but mainly the Dean montage.

asianfemale16 karma

  1. Who inspires you and why?
  2. What is your favourite movie?

I love Community and thank you for everything!

danharmon42 karma

Woody Allen and Charlie Kaufman inspire me because of their ability to honestly embrace what they truly find ugly about themselves and turn it into something beautiful to others, which I really think is any artist's fundamental job, to swallow bad stuff, digest it, then secrete good stuff. I think my favorite movie might be Network, it's dated, but I'm in awe of Chayefsky's writing in that movie, monologue after monologue as if it's the most natural thing in the world for people to speak to each other in profound essays. Ned Beatty's being a speech that I think you could just pull out of that movie and put on the wall of a cave somewhere, as part of an epic, his words are timelessly provocative and cathartic.