Monday, August 22, 2022

Before They Were a Community

True story: I was inspired to go back to school while watching Community with my wife. Fortunately/unfortunately, my education wasn’t as easy as one at Greendale. But what matters is where it got me. We’ve come a long way, me and Community. Now it doesn’t matter what I’m watching, if I see a Community actor, my eyes light up. Here are just some of my favorites from before they became Greendale Human Beings. 

Jim Rash (Dean Craig Pelton) - Friends

I swear he could have been the same character in Friends. During a Friends rewatch (which happens constantly in our home), he could be seen as Rachel’s plane-mate in the series finale. One mention of Phoebe’s “feelings” and this nervous passenger was out the door. In a way, he was the hero of Ross and Rachel’s love story (even though I don’t like them together); if he hadn’t freaked out Ross might not have made it to the plane on time. It’s just a good thing no one asked him about spare phalanges at Greendale.

Joel McHale (Jeff Winger) - Spider-Man 2

As they hit Netflix recently, my wife and I just watched the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy (worth watching, especially after his appearance in No Way Home). I knew it was coming, but I was still smiling to see Joel McHale as a banker in the movie. He was a bit of a sleazeball, attempting to pocket some of the bank’s cash during the attack, until Aunt May hit him. Could have been Jeff in a pre-lawyer life.

Danny Pudi (Abed Nadir) - Gilmore Girls 

Another constantly running staple in our home, we’ve always got a run of Gilmore Girls going. The first time I watched it with my wife (she’d seen it countless times by then) I was surprised to see Abed running around the Yale newspaper with Rory Gilmore. He was part of the uncomfortable episode where Lorelei and Christopher took the newspaper staff out for dinner… despite the protests. Awkward.

Alison Brie (Annie Edison) - Hannah Montana 

Once Disney Plus came out, we immediately started watching Disney Channel series, including Hannah Montana. I was surprised to see Alison Brie, but I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. I’m sure more actors than I realize had appearances on Disney Channel before their break. She only appeared in one episode (as part of a scheme against Jackson), but there she was.

Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bennett) - That’s So Raven

Another Human Being with a history in teen dramas. She appeared in That’s So Raven and iCarly in nameless roles. But the lack of name didn’t stop the sass, as she acted as the bouncer, keeping Raven and Chelsea from tracking down their latest pop star obsession. Enter Disney Channel shenanigans.

Ken Jeong (Ben Chang) - The Office

Before he was a deranged former Spanish teacher (and after he was a medical doctor), we got to see Ken Jeong as one of the other students in Michael’s improv class. He was one of Michael’s “gunshot” victims in his ridiculous production. Back in 2020 he was a guest on the “Office Ladies” podcast, discussing his breakout role. 

It was hard to narrow down the Community cast for this blog post. I could have included Leonard being in The Pagemaster or Magnitude attending Hogwarts as Lee Jordan. But I’ll leave it with these six. And of course, whenever Gillian Jacobs appears in anything, we have only one reaction:

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