Okay, have to leave to edit Harmontown. Might be able to check in for upvoted questions later. THANK YOU FOR SO MANY INTERESTING QUESTIONS, you guys are ...well, you're everything you seem to think I am. Bless your insane hearts.

AND PLEDGE TO THE ANOMALISA Kickstarter (http://kck.st/N03wGu)

Comments: 4806 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

IrisKV2366 karma

Hey, I'm a huge fan living in Switzerland. I realize there's almost no chance you'll read that, considering how many comments there already are, but whatever, in the off chance that you'll read it, I'm willing to make a fool of myself for the whole internet to see. Okay, wine must help.

I just wanted to tell you that your work on Community really, really made my life better these past three years. Not because you made me laugh - you did, but because you made me cry. A lot. A Troy-lot.

I know you must get this all the time but... here we go again. Through Abed, you broke my heart so many times I stopped counting, because where people would find him funny, I felt like I finally could relate to someone. You know that part in Watchmen where Ozymandias says he's often felt stupid for being unable to relate to anybody ? Well, it was the same for me, until Abed. And then Abed made me curious about you. Because he was something else, and I'm not just talking about the number of pop culture references. I'm talking about what I felt like they were hiding. And I stalked you, like the slightly neurotic girl I am.

Through your tweets and tumblr post (and the years of archives on your myspace, but I'm definitely ashamed of reading all of that, so... oh fuck it), you did the same. You provided me with the kind of guidance I couldn't find anywhere else. Even if at times you didn't seem happy, you were... well, to me, you are a genius, and that was enough for me to know. Because when I get depressed, when I get broken, when I feel like everything is falling apart, I just re-read stuff you wrote, I re-watch bits of Community, I listen to your podcast, and I just know that everything will be okay, and that I'm not the only one feeling like that. That amazing people can feel like complete shit too.

So I don't really have any question. I guess lately I've really wanted to ask you "Are you okay ?" because that's how you make me feel, like the kind of person you deeply want to be happy. But you seem to be better than a few months ago, so I won't.

I just wanted a chance to tell you all of this, and to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you did (and considering I'm way too far to ever go see Harmontown, it's pretty much the only way). You didn't do it on purpose, but you helped, and you didn't deserve the way Sony treated you, and it made me angry and sad, but whatever. I'm sure you'll do amazing stuff in the future, and I'll be around to watch it. Please, keep bringing unique stuff to the screen.

danharmon2469 karma

Thank you. Second time I've cried in one AMA. I hope you understand that this is the reason I do what I do - I am, to quote Yvette Nicole Brown, a "broken" person, and to quote Hilary Winston in her first interview to work on season 1, this is a show about broken people. All of them are quite alone, some involuntarily, some by their own hand, some without realizing it, but none of them come to the study room table with the emotional advantages held by that mythical creature known as "a normal person." There are no normal people, there are just different kinds of weird, all of it is human and all humanity is better than everything inhuman. So I urge you to keep expressing yourself as honestly as you can, and know that the backpedals and second-guesses really aren't necessary - they don't hurt but they're wasting your time - because when you are truly human, as we all are, and when that is your honest message to anyone, you are beyond reproach, there is no way to screw it up. I love Abed very much, too, for the obvious reason that he's a character able to connect with others through comparatively limited channels. I had a TV show, he has ...other people's TV shows. You have a reddit account. And maybe a bunch of other ways. And when you tell me that our show was somehow helpful to you, that it somehow inspired you to use whatever channels you have to connect yourself to others, well, water squirts out of my eyes, because there's no higher goal a writer (or carpenter or zookeeper or bank robber) can have. So thank you. As for the idea of me never seeing what you have to say: it may often be true, but I think what the internet, which is increasingly becoming the real world, needs most, is a big fat dose of everybody assuming that EVERYBODY CAN SEE THEM. I think we have to stop using this place as a toilet or an Eyes-Wide-Shut orgy and start using it to be who we really are because I don't see a lot of roller rinks being built and we're running out of mountains to climb, so, better or worse, this is it, we are all entering Abed's box now. God speed to you and follow your bliss!

IrisKV775 karma

Thank you for answering, really. Really means the world to me... So, second question ; How do you like them apples ?

danharmon1051 karma


brianwcollins1219 karma

Always wondered - how was the placement of the 7 study group members at the table decided? Did the actors pick their characters' own seats?

robexists1262 karma

As a fan, I know that Pierce and Troy were paired because the original intention was that they'd be the comedic duo. I think Dan referred to them as a Beavis and Butthead-like pair in his head. Troy and Abed sitting next to each other was just a lucky coincidence once it turned out Pudi and Glover had chemistry.

Besides that, I assume Jeff and Britta were paired at the table in the interest of romance/bickering, while Pierce and Shirley shared a corner in the interest of sexual harassment.

danharmon1336 karma

what he said!

danthemagnum240 karma

I believe that Shirley was originally written as a love interest for Pierce, until the producers saw her (can't recall her name) portrayal of the character and changed Shirley to suit. I'm not sure to what effect this had on the seating arrangements, but I'm sure that this played a role.

danharmon842 karma

I don't know if I would have ever spent much more energy on the idea of Pierce chasing Shirley's skirt. One of the first things Chevy insisted upon was that his character be a lady's man, which made the writers think it would be hilarious for his character to insist he was a lady's man. In the beginning, the thing I knew for sure about Pierce was that he'd be a sometime jealous rival of Winger's and an oft-time "hapless Obi Wan," to quote an insight from Joe Russo.

Lamurias658 karma

do you think chevy understands most of the jokes on the show?

danharmon1798 karma


danharmon653 karma

This would be a great question for the Russo Brothers, who directed the pilot and chose the blocking. There may have been very specific needs created by the pilot's story - for instance, Pierce is hitting on Shirley, seems he needed to be next to her, and Annie and Shirley have major tension that probably dictated they be adjacent. The neat thing is how Troy and Abed ended up sitting next to each other even though we had absolutely no idea Troy and Abed would become BFFs - which you can see from watching the first five or six episodes.

AhhBisto1102 karma

Hey Dan, big fan of yours from the UK, thank you for Community. I have 2 questions today:

  1. The rumour mill says that Chevy Chase walked off set at the end of filming for Season 3 because he refused to do something. What did he refuse to do?

  2. In Season 2, Pierce turned into a villain of sorts. Was this a reflection of how you and the other writers felt about Chevy Chase or a coincidence?

Thank you for doing this AMA, i can't wait to see what you do in the future!

danharmon2087 karma

  1. He refused to do the "tag" for the Digital Estate Planning episode (the 8 bit video game episode). In the scripted tag, Abed comes to Pierce with the thumb drive he took, and says "Pierce, I've been able to adjust some of the code for your Dad's video game and I've made a version I think you might like better." He puts the thumb drive into a laptop in front of Pierce. We cut to the laptop screen, where we see Pierce's avatar on a front lawn with the giant floating head of Cornelius. Every time Pierce presses the space bar, his avatar throws a baseball to his father's head, which gives him a thousand points and a "great job, son!" Pierce presses the space bar a few times, pauses, then leans over and embraces Abed and we fade to black. When Adam Countee pitched that tag, tears instantly rolled down my cheeks, and in point of fact, my eyes are getting watery describing it to you. It was the most important part of the episode and possibly one of the most important moments of the season. I was very upset to hear that it wasn't shot because someone didn't feel like shooting it, especially since it was literally the last day of shooting, which meant we'd never be able to pick it up. I regret nothing about how upset I got. My job was to care about my show.

  2. It wasn't a reflection of how we felt about Chevy, it was a reflection of how we felt Chevy would be best used. I adapted all the characters to the actors as we went on - Annie was nothing more than a Tracy Flick ripoff on paper, but by episode 6 of season one, Alison Brie and the writers had evolved the character, using Alison's flavors. I don't see Clark Griswold when I look at Chevy, and I certainly don't hear Fletch when I'm listening to someone tell me how much like Fletch they are. As I've said, I think his best performance was in the Dungeons and Dragons episode. I think what makes Pierce - and Chevy - heroic - is their unwillingness to surrender. There's a voice inside of us screaming I DON'T WANT TO DIE, I DON'T WANT TO BE IGNORED, I DON'T WANT TO FADE AWAY, IT'S NOT FAIR IT'S NOT FAIR IT'S NOT FAIR. Pierce, in his best moments, channels that voice, for the sake of all of us, so that we don't have to say these petty things. Much like Eric Cartman or Archie Bunker. It was a failed experiment that we back off of at a certain point because it felt like fans were wondering why anyone would ever hang out with such a monster.

Timocharis561 karma

Why did he refuse to do it?

danharmon2004 karma

The answer I heard from the people on set was that he didn't think it was funny. After he realized how upset I was about it, he said things in voicemails like "there was no script" (untrue) and "I have a weird relationship with the name Cornelius" (dumb, he had no dialogue in the tag). The real answer, I believe, is that he wanted to go home because he was tired. He probably didn't realize he was permanently damaging the episode by doing so because he often walked off set and then we would just pick up his shots later in the week. But this was the final shot of the season. The sets came down after he walked away. So this was the one time in three years that his personality caused unfixable damage to something I really held valuable.

Stavrosian992 karma

What's the storyline you never got to do on Community that you most regret?

danharmon1798 karma

The one that immediately leaps to mind is that I wanted Richard Ayoade (director of the Dinner with Andre episode) to return, this time on camera, as an oversea friend of Abed's that he met in an Inspector Spacetime forum (or subreddit). I just couldn't resist the meta-liciousness of seeing Ayoade and Pudi on screen together, and the non-meta, perfectly standard sitcom-liciousness of giving Abed a friend of whom Troy would have good reason to be jealous. I will say, though, that we explored many of the aspects of Troy and Abed's relationship in the Civil War episode that we would've explored in an episode like that. Still, it would have been pretty fun.

allubros393 karma

As a follow up, how much are you allowed to reveal about your original vision for the future of the show?

danharmon1150 karma

I don't know if this is good news or bad news but I tried not to think too far ahead too specifically. I knew that we had to generally get the audience used to the idea that Greendale, the campus itself, was NOT NECESSARILY INSTRUMENTAL to the long term viability of the show. That's why we did episodes like Remedial Chaos and Annie's Move and Abed as Batman, that's why we moved Annie into Abed and Troy's apartment and put Shirley and Pierce in business together...because the simple fact, to me, was that as much as we loved Greendale, we had to "complete" the story of Jeff Winger getting his four year degree. You can actually see one my "fourth season" ideas getting bumped up into the end of season three, because Jeff Winger has to decide, at the end of season three, that even though he's endured Greendale for the express purpose of getting his old life back, in the end, he has to choose Greendale over his old life, because Greendale has made him a better person. The fact that it happened at the end of season three is because at the time of writing the script, I had a sneaking suspicion that either the show or its creator would not be back for season four.

lepton42873 karma

What is your all-time favourite episode of Community?

danharmon2186 karma

I think the Dungeons and Dragons episode in season 2.

chill_ninja89398 karma

As a follow up, what was your all-time favourite episode to shoot?

danharmon906 karma

I guess the first season's paintball episode. The actors' opinion of what episodes were fun to shoot would be the more weighty opinion. It was the actors' set, it was their pain we were farming. I was often in the writers room or edit bay while their biggest triumphs were happening. I had the luxury of being able to focus on writing and editing because we had good directors and brilliant actors and the best crew in TV.

coreywhorey726 karma

If you were to direct a porn film, what would the storyline be?

danharmon2114 karma

A mysterious gas cloud of alien origin envelopes the Earth, turning all womens' hair red. Like season 1 Scully red. The gas cloud also has a sterilization effect on all the men, except for one fat writer with a small wiener. Women, however, discover they are able to retain their fertility by dressing like it's 1986, and the salvation of the species begins in a giant room lined with black fur.

plasker61031 karma

I Want to Believe

SGMcG1143 karma

Aaaaaand there's the title.

Edit: scratch that since it needs to be more pornish.

Better title: I Want to CONCEIVE.

danharmon937 karma


allubros616 karma

Did you have any plans for the 4th season of Community before shit went down? Do you know if the new showrunners are allowed to use any of those ideas? I guess my main question is, does anyone still working on the show know what your original goal for season 4 was and plan to honor it?

danharmon875 karma

I'm sure there's lots of things we talked about over three years that will be useable by the new guys. And yes, it's their property to use if that's the case. One thing I'm sure will happen in season 4 is Jeff will meet his Dad, because we were going to do it in season 3 but then one of the NBC execs started saying "just make sure Jeff meeting his Dad isn't a dark story," and I didn't want to write one of the series' most important stories under that hex, so I said, "let's just punt that story to season 4." And we ended season 3 with Jeff googling his Dad, so...!

Levelfivelaserlotus342 karma

Who would you want to play Jeff's dad? Did you have a shortlist?

facedawg1128 karma

Bill Murray

danharmon1372 karma

what he said

indeedwatson801 karma

I think Bill fucking Murray would be a better choice.

danharmon1104 karma

actually I like your idea better

Vellona601 karma

Who the hell is Jeff always texting????!!!!

danharmon662 karma

I'm afraid that question is out of my hands now!!!

lavalampman572 karma

If the show invited you back in any capacity would you take it? Or would it be hard to not have the final say?

Also who would win in a fist fight between all the cast?

danharmon1338 karma

I'll answer the last part first: I feel like Joel would come out swinging and start winning right away, but he'd tire himself out chasing Gillian and Donald around the ring. Once Joel got to his exhaustion point, things would get bloody and ugly for a while, with Danny doing a lot of horrible things that nobody knew he could do - I just have that sense that Danny would suddenly bust out a crazy eyeball eating maneuver he learned in some class - but in the end, Yvette would reveal that she had lined the whole room with explosives and she would emerge victorious. From the room. But Chevy would be behind the door with a bat and take her out. Then he'd collapse because that's a lot of bat swinging for a legend his age. So I guess Alison would win because nobody would have felt good about punching her.

It wouldn't do the show or me any good to be invited back to the show in "any capacity." If they thought I was bad at being in charge, they'd be even more disappointed in my ability to be not-in-charge. I'm a zero-sum personality with very little staff writing experience. I like to create stuff and if people don't like it I like to try to figure out how to make it better but I'm not great at helping other people make their stuff. Nobody wants Dan Harmon prowling the hallways while they're trying to make Community. It would slow everything down and frustrate everyone because people would feel obligated to mince words and be political in their handling of my opinions and blah blah blah. So no.

Zimb0296 karma

Will you watch the new episodes?

danharmon929 karma

I'm going to wait a few episodes, maybe the whole season, and see how other people react. If people love it, then I'll be able to safely watch it with an open, friendly heart, because the whole point is whatever makes the audience happy. If they say it's good, it's good, and I can watch it and even say it's good. But I'm not going to be part of any campaign to convince anyone - me or others - of anything, good or bad. I've received a lot of advice from a lot of creatives that in a situation like this, it's best for everyone on all sides that I make a clean break and not look back. I'll be one of the very last people you hear weighing in on New Community. It's the most practical, healthy decision I can make for its audience. Here's an important related question: DO I HOPE IT'S GOOD? The honest answer is yes.

Zimb0283 karma

I enjoy your honesty in this regard and your answer makes a lot of sense. After watching and listening to the commentaries, I am going to watch with a bit more trepidation but the actors are so ensconced in their roles that I am a bit more trusting now in season 4, compared to this being a second or third season.

danharmon744 karma

don't underestimate the extent to which: #1) the actors are fantastic and own their characters, which are what you truly love and #2) Andy Bobrow and Matt Murray and Megan Ganz and a slew of talented writers are working over there. It could be fine. It could be BETTER WITHOUT ME.

lepton42233 karma

Abed, his eyes are gentle and mysterious

lostacommandpost155 karma

But he doesn't have the Forest Whitaker eye.

Doctor_Adequate244 karma

Donald Glover is way too good at that. Also everything else.

danharmon552 karma

yeah but don't forget it's all about reach in a fist fight. Joel's six foot four.

Levelfivelaserlotus396 karma

We're all underestimating Jim Rash's fighting skills

danharmon596 karma

oh my god you're actually right. Jim Rash would pull some stuff.

hamlete278 karma

He'd definitely have the best costume for battle

danharmon784 karma

I picture him entering the fray dressed like Tina Turner in Thunderdome

eothins554 karma

Donde esta la biblioteca?

danharmon1756 karma

It took me six hours to write that rap.

Irv63541 karma

I always loved how in the Community "clip-show" episodes, the clips were always from things that we never actually saw happen. My question is, if you could've turned any of these clips into a full episode, which one would it be?

danharmon682 karma


gatr1126532 karma

Why did we never get to see a Troy and Abed in the Morning web series?

danharmon1896 karma

because network TV doesn't know the internet exists yet.

bravecoward529 karma

Whats your favorite subtle joke in the series? (e.g. saying beetlejuice 3 times and have beetlejuice walk past in the background)

danharmon989 karma

boring answer, but you said it. The beetlejuice thing was the height of ridiculous insideness. Props to Megan Ganz, her idea. The runner-up would be Abed delivering the baby in the background. Good job, Hilary Winston!

fiveforty469 karma

Community made me excited for sitcoms again and made me appreciate working in television at a time when I was getting really burnt out. Thanks for showing me that there are passionate people still in the industry. It's easily my favorite show and I could ask questions for hours but here are a few I can think of:

  1. Did you write the finale of S3 as if it could have been a series finale? The last 5minutes, the wrap-up, is perfect.

  2. At the end of the S3 finale, Abed goes into his mini-Dreamatorium. To me this symbolises that everything we see from now on isn't the real timeline, but that S4 and onward is all happening within that Dreamatorium. Was this intentional?

If you're ever in Toronto you have an open offer for a night of drinks on me. Thank you for your passion.

danharmon654 karma

  1. yes

  2. it symbolizes me leaving the show. I didn't know for sure I was going to but I had a feeling I might have to.

Stockypotty428 karma

Hey Dan. Since you have been fired there has been an incredible rise of support for you. This has been displayed through twitter, the /r/community subreddit, and on practically every FB post NBC make. As Ken Levine points out in his blog post, show runners have been getting fired for years. It's my knowledge (although I might be wrong) that these show runners haven't had anywhere near the amount of support you have.

My questions are:

  • How do you feel about this support?

  • What do you think the main reasons for this support are?

As a side note, community is amazing and I have found all your posts about story writing (such as the 8 stage circle) incredibly useful! So thanks!

danharmon751 karma

I feel great about the support, from a selfish perspective. I feel bad about it from the fan's perspective because it tears everything we all love to pieces. All of the conflict between writers, networks and studios stems from one simple thing: We all want the audience to keep watching and we all disagree about how to make it happen. So the idea of me getting fired and everyone saying "this is bullshit!" is a double edged sword. It strokes my ego but, contrary to what my detractors might have you believe, it's not my ego that's at stake. I have self-esteem falling out of my butt. What's at stake is the AUDIENCE'S PLEASURE. Now they're displeasured because I'm gone. It's a sandpaper handjob. Coined it.

EDITED because I forgot to answer your other question:

I think the reason for the support is the same reason I got fired. I had my fat, greasy fingerprints and big, fat face all over that show. I was the Colonel Sanders. They wouldn't have minded it if the chicken had sold better.

MrDeckard416 karma

Did NBC make you cast Chevy Chase, or was it something you intended to do from the start?

danharmon762 karma

Sony made us. I'm not saying it was the wrong decision ultimately, but the honest answer to the question is that Pierce was literally the only role for which nobody else was considered after the actor we cast put his hat in the ring. Even McHale had to "test" against two other great guys. The short list of people I wanted to see about playing Pierce: Fred Willard, John Cleese, Patrick Stewart. That's a juicy role, man, there's a LOT of brilliant old dudes out there, but in the end, Sony felt (accurately) that Chase was a household name. And I remember Krasnoff saying to me, "listen, you make the decision on your pilot that gets you a series order. You take these things one step at a time." And there was wisdom there. Vile wisdom, but it's a vile industry. And I think the writers and Chevy ended up creating an unforgettable character.

glazomaniac353 karma

are you familiar with the concept of genderqueer? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer

i have identified as GQ/transwoman for a long time, though i have never really taken steps toward it more than in mind and occasionally in dress.

the character of dean pelton continually amazes me in his complete destruction of gender norms while being in what (in a regular college, anyway) would be a position of power. he's cartoonish and occasionally, the show slips up into areas where it seems a little too far, but on the whole, he has been a breath of fresh air.

i think there are a lot of people who laugh at his character for wearing "ridiculous outfits," but i have always found that the funniest part of those outfits isn't the fact that he crosses genderlines. it's the fact that he's the dean of a college dressing in costumes for frivolous reasons. it's never "oh, how silly, he's dressed as tina turner." it's "oh, how silly, he's dressed as tina turner for daylight savings."

and then, in virtual systems analysis, he comes out dressed as the dualidean of man, which is played for laughs a bit because of how absurd it is not because of what he was dressed as entirely but why ("what am i going to tell people? that i had good news and bad news?"), and then you come back around in the end in the most amazing way. when he came back in and talked about how he had one of the deepest conversations of his life...

i have no idea what his conversation was, but i appreciate that it was left up to our imaginations. in that moment, i felt like someone got it. the fact that he could, in the universe of greendale, go to the bank dressed as a man and a woman and end up having a deep conversation suggests a lot to me about the level of acceptance that exists in your work of art.

i find that the idea that the whole show is about seven very different people forming a community despite of their differences resonates all the more strongly because the concept of acceptance seems to pervade every layer of the show. the fact that gender identity, even in the absurd fashion of the dean, is part of your universe warms me.

it makes me feel that acceptance. it's beautiful.

i know i am rambling a bit, but i don't really know what to say except "thank you."

danharmon544 karma

wow, thank you so much. I was especially proud of that little runner, precisely because it ended on that note, proving that it's possible to be funny and even to laugh at "weird" people without the punchline or moral being that they're SUPPOSED TO BE "NORMAL." Dean Pelton goes through something we've all gone through - the sudden, panicked, defeated realization that we're a joke, that all our life is spent in futility, that we're wrong about everything, that we're alone and nobody cares. And I find it noteworthy that it really registers as "ironic television" to have him bound in at the end with a big smile on his face having discovered that life isn't so bad and that his weirdness was a gift to other people. It's evidence of how messed up we've become as a society, the fact that in this day and age, the "unexpected joke" can be happiness. The good news is, being messed up doesn't mean the story's over. It means the story's just starting, and in the end, we all find out we're NOT ALONE, or maybe that we're ALL ALONE and therefore united in our loneliness. I really appreciate you posting this, as you can imagine, Dean Pelton is understandably perceived by some to be a queer stereotype, like, ha ha, laugh at the gay guy, and I'm always finding myself clarifying, he's not gay, he's not straight, he's an ocean-deep, planetwide labyrinth of kinks and turns. He represents the part of all of us that doesn't get turned on by Budweiser ads, and sometimes feels a little lost because of it, but that heroically, CHARGES ON in the discovery of himself. THANK YOU!

HolyHandGnade13345 karma

What did the cast and crew name Britta's strand of hair that she gave Troy? According to the commentary it was something dirty, but Gillian wouldn't say it.

danharmon446 karma

those guys have their own mythology, I was the last person that would ever be privvy. I still wonder why Gillian's nickname among the actors was "stink."

sethpomeroy331 karma

I'm a freelance screenwriter and the 8 point story circles you came up with have become an essential step in my process. Have you heard from other writers/directors that have adopted this method? Do you ever think hundreds of years in the future, after your career has been unavoidably reduced to a footnote in entertainment history, this is what you'll actually be remembered for?

danharmon446 karma

I don't think anything is possible hundreds of years in the future, or I'd be better about recycling. I get what you mean, though, and I'd be honored if it went down that way, as any of us would be honored to be remembered a single day past our efforts, but it would be a bit of a sketchy honor because it's all Joseph Campbell's research (and Syd Field's). The 8 point circle is just me reducing Hero with a Thousand Faces to as simple and objectively "true" a template as possible. It was actually designed for Channel 101 directors who were letting "I'm not a writer" stand in the way of them shooting something. It was my way of saying, "look, there's such a thing as a paint by numbers story, so if storytelling isn't your passion, just get Jack up and down his beanstalk so you have something to shoot." The fact that, as one guy down there points out, Graham Linehan has gotten use from the template, is .... well, inexpressible. I don't even know how to respond to it. I have had a LOT of people tell me they've gotten use from it. A lot more than I ever thought. If that ends up being my net contribution, it's a pretty damn lucky break. I'd take it.

talkingbook225 karma

Could you give us the speech you give new writers you hire?

danharmon898 karma

"Please help me make this the best show it possibly can be. Please give everything you have to it. I promise when you bleed, it will mix with my blood. I can't guarantee you'll be directly rewarded for it by the system, but I promise you it's the right thing to do. And please come to Comic Con and stand in the audience and listen to what they do when the actors come on stage. That is our God, that is the thing for which we'll be suffering." Pretty pretentious but it's an honest answer.

chstrckwl304 karma

Who's the funniest cast member off-screen? I bet it's Leonard.

danharmon981 karma

they all have different senses of humor. I would never answer a question like this while I was over there but now that I'm gone I can probably just say DONALD WAS MY FAVORITE! DONALD WAS MY FAVORITE!!!

NeedsToShutUp299 karma

Did a person dressed as a dinosaur molest Britta?

danharmon469 karma


DoggiCorner286 karma

I've been waiting for this AMA for a long time and I really hope this doesn't get buried. Dan Harmon, thank you for inspiring me to work in the tv industry.

i came into college with a hazy idea of what I wanted to do with my life (tvorsomething) so I majored in film and art history.

Almost everyone I met was like "good luck with that film thing" and suggested art history as the only way I'll ever get a job. I spent a long time worried about what I should chose and what if I chose "wrong".

Then I found Community this year. I've fallen in love with tv shows before but never to the same extent as Community. I connected with all of the characters in different ways, appreciated the high brow humor so often missing from the network lineup and learned everything I could about production.

Then once I finished all of the available seasons I started editing together Community stuff I found online. With editing I found something I have yet to find with any other hobby - a sense of fulfillment. At this point I know that I want to be a tv editor because Communi brought me there. I discovered that as long I have connection with what I'm doing, I will at leat feel successful.

Without this show I probably would have spent a long time in limbo with no idea what to do and for that I'm grateful.Without you this fall, Community wont be the same but hopefully they will continue with your vision.

Sorry if this is sappy but I wanted you to know the effort making Community touched at least one person. I wish you all the best on your new projects.

By the way I know that the Sarah Silverman program has a similar effect on a good friend of mine so also thank you for that.

tl, dr: Community gave my life direction

danharmon379 karma

That's awesome. It feels dumb to say this because it's so obvious, but good editors are fundamental to a show's success. They have to be part engineer, part artist. They have to balance having creative opinions with fulfilling the "vision" of the asshole over their shoulder. A bad script and a bad performance can be spun into gold in the edit bay, whereas bad editing cannot be reversed, it is the final and most important place, it's the sphincter through which our babies' heads pass into the hands of the waiting audience, so the idea that Community inspires more people to take up editing is of huge satisfaction to guys like myself and Chris McKenna, who took the post production of his episodes very seriously. Shout outs to Peter Ellis, Ruthie Aslan, Jeff Hall, Christian Kinnard and all the editors that came and went for all three seasons. I miss you guys sorely. You did God's work in those bays.

JayEssArr269 karma

When you wrote the pilot for Community, which actors did you have in mind for the Greendale 7 or other characters like Dean Pelton? Which of your original choices declined?

Huge fan of the show! :)

danharmon436 karma

No juicy answers for this. I had "a handsome version of me" in mind for Winger and we found him in Joel McHale, plus a lot more. I had my friend from Channel 101, Abed Gheith, in mind for Abed, but then Pudi walked in having cast himself in the part, as I describe in another answer. I had a teenage Woody Harrelson in mind for Troy, which was totally subverted by the fact that Donald Glover is just a star. I had Mary Steenburgen in my head when writing for Shirley, but Yvette's versatility was more valuable to me. As I've often said, Annie was a blatant ripoff of Tracy Flick from Election, so I naturally just pictured Tracy Flick, but it's not like I wanted Rheese Witherspoon to play the role, and after a planetwide scouring, we saw Alison and it clicked. Gillian might have been the oddest departure in terms of what I pictured...there was a mile-long line of girls that looked like Jo from Facts of Life in the hallway, but then this tiny blonde with the flu strolled in and was such an obvious natural dramatic talent that I immediately felt like "this is Britta."

magicpencils256 karma

In the DVD commentary for Horror Fiction, you start talking about the budget for the show and then there's about 20 seconds of silence. Right before the silence, you said:

The reason why season 2 looks better than season 3 is because I didn't buy a house yet. So really, the show needs more money to be spent on it.

The next thing you can hear is Yvette talking about Daybreak. So what was edited out?

Also, I just wanted to tell you how much I love the inventiveness of Community. The Dreamatorium episode is the best thing I've ever seen on television, hands down.

danharmon544 karma

from the context you're describing, sounds like there's a good chance I started talking about how much of my own money I put into season 2 of Community. I'd estimate I put about $300K of my own cash into season 2, but I don't know the final tally because all I cared about was making the show good. The irony, or rather the complete lack of irony, is that the people that did care about that money are the same people that edited out me talking about it. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, shame begets fraud and fraud begets force and force begets shame and fraud.

danharmon412 karma

oh and I think I also implied that the Russo brothers were embezzling from the budget, which, while clearly a joke, might have been considered libelous by Sony's legal dept. and edited out. But if there's 20 seconds of silence, my first guess is more likely

islandniles251 karma

I saw your Instagram picture with Mitchell Hurwitz. Is this a hint that you may have an Arrested cameo?

edit: spelling.

danharmon574 karma

I asked him if I could tweet the pic and he said yes but I won't say anything else, other than: I was on the set of Arrested and I met Mitch Hurwitz, who hugged me and acted like it was cool for HIM that I was there, and we talked smack about network politics and it was a dream come true. He is as cool and smart as you'd imagine him to be. The thing that took me by surprise is that he's not a 500 pound, pock-marked bald guy with squirrels in his beard, because I would imagine that his level of talent would involve that kind of body. But wouldn't you know, he's not only a genius, he's also spry and adorable. The more I think about it, the more I realize it made me feel like shit to meet him. Just kidding. It was awesome.

crumbledykee214 karma

Due to all of its current pop-culture references, do you think Community will stand the test of time?

danharmon411 karma

in spite of all its current pop culture references, yes. I don't understand half of what British TV references and it's always fine. The references in Community aren't what's for sale, they're simply an aspect of making characters feel real in spite of an unreal medium. Ultimately, the stories and characters in Community are timeless. At least timeless enough.

Carninator202 karma

How did the idea with the norwegian troll come up?

danharmon360 karma

I think that was Chris McKenna. He'd be better able to shed light on that process from start to finish. It had to do with the need for multiple timelines to be as "different" as possible without leaving the same room; best way to do that is to have a kind of "schroedinger's cat," a thing in a box that is either opened or not open, with very different results...leading to the decision to have Pierce give Troy a housewarming gift, and wanting that gift to be an expression of Pierce's underlying jealousy and loneliness.

lostacommandpost192 karma

I read that you attended Glendale Community College, which inspired the idea for Greendale. Are there any particular gags/themes/professors from your time there that make an appearance in the show?

danharmon358 karma

not really. Glendale was a good school with passionate faculty and a very clean lawn. The most important thing that happened to me there was that two guys in my biology class "made" me study with them in the library after class one night, and I went into this little study room with a bad attitude about having to do it, and I left feeling part of the brotherhood of man. It was an emotional experience that I knew would make for good solid TV.

natimusrex171 karma

What was one time you wrote an idea that was like "Oh man, oh damn this is so stupid. What am I doing?" That ended up working out?

danharmon373 karma

Jesus, almost every episode. Most notably the Dinner with Andre one. I had a near nervous breakdown during that one because I was certain I had destroyed my own show.

JacobDeZoet148 karma

What is it like working with Charlie Kaufman?

Do you have any interesting stories from behind the scenes of the production?

danharmon319 karma

It's very difficult for me to look Charlie in the eye and when I'm in a conversation with him, it's 70 percent obscured by the throbbing hum of my ID saying "HOLY SHIT YOU'RE TALKING TO CHARLIE KAUFMAN" so I won't have a solid answer to that question for a while. I will tell you why I feel this way in a very narcissistic story. Years ago, I was attempting to adapt a short story by George Saunders called Civilwarland in Bad Decline for Ben Stiller's company. It's a very nuanced, stylized, psychological, dark, personal and absurd short story and I desperately wanted to be the one to successfully adapt it but was desperately failing to do so on paper and it was haunting me day and night and ruining my life, to the point where, at one point, I thought, "what I ought to do is just call the script 'Adaptation' and write the story of me trying to adapt it, because it's the only story I can actually understand at this point, etc.," and a day later, there was a billboard for a movie called "Adaptation" on Sunset boulevard and it turned out it was written by the Being John Malkovich guy, so I went to see it, and I walked out of that theatre feeling simultaneously demoralized and enthralled on a level theretofore unexperienced. I felt what it must be like for the schizophrenic guy that thought Monster House was sending him hidden messages about his dead daughter. Kaufman's writing made me feel insane and beaten and turned inside out. Even if I would ever be capable of doing what he does, he is always a full decade ahead of me doing it. He mocks me with lack of effort. So I am the Salieri to his Mozart, and I have the choice between being Bad Salieri, and trying to figure out how to beat him, or I can be Good Salieri and just figure out whatever I can do to help. It is for that reason that we are doing Anomalisa and it is for that reason that I can't answer your question because my brain becomes a balloon animal when I enter the same room as him.

MrBingles138 karma

What are some inside jokes that you put into episodes of Community, knowing most people wouldn't get them?

danharmon263 karma

At the end of the third season's clip show episode, Chang paraphrases something I would sometimes say in the writer's room: "come on, guys, I'm making up the same show you are, pitches, pitches, pitches!" I think one of the writers wrote that line into the script to make fun of me, and then I think I added that a little girl hands him a drink to which he replies, "ah, thank you Megan," obviously (to fans) a reference to Megan Ganz, who used to bring me glasses of Ketel One when I sat at the keyboard in the writer's room (it wasn't brown nosing, she was just speeding my demise so she could take over). That's as self-indulgently inside as I can remember us getting - because usually if we did an inside joke, we made sure it also functioned as an "outside" one.

Jakelshark136 karma

How do you feel about the Britta character? Some fans prefer her early instances compared to the later; the notion being her dumbing down. always a dirty hippie chick who tries to get it (but doesn't), Britta's only chang has been her becoming less defensive and opening up to the group. The group reacts accordingly; which in this timeline means deriding her.

danharmon314 karma

I don't perceive the character as being dumbed down, I think we evolved her into one of the most sophisticated characters in TV comedy. Britta's pop cultural ignorance ("rowboat cop") and the fact that she dropped out of high school and ain't so well-read are human qualities to which I found a lot of women relating and/or joyfully not relating, but in any case BELIEVING. I always felt that the triumph of Britta as a character was that she was the only "real" person, stuck on Gilligan's island, and ironically being punished for it. Sometimes we would cross the line. I did find myself telling the writer's room here and there, "let's not make her a dumb blonde, she's a high school dropout and she's computer illiterate and she's a late bloomer because she's lived a fuller life, but there's a difference between that and an airhead." If we made her an airhead, it was an accident, or an isolated instance of us being too tempted by a funny joke. Troy was an airhead. Britta was a work of art. She was a post post feminist masterpiece and a televised work of art. If I do say so myself.

SpaceOdysseus59 karma

Have you ever thought about retrying to get Heat Vision and Jack made?

danharmon117 karma

there's a possibility that we're going to try it as an animated series, baby.