Danny Pudi wishes a huge 'pop pop' to 'Community' fans

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  • Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi), Annie (Alison Brie) and Rich Stephenson (Greg Cromer) in the zombie episode of "Community," called "Epidemiology."
Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi), Annie (Alison Brie) and Rich Stephenson… (NBC )
December 30, 2011|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Danny Pudi's "Community" character, Abed Nadir, may have fallen short in RedEye's fourth Best TV Character Tournament this week, but the Chicago native thought the championship matchup was perfectly cast.

After all, Abed's obsession with all things pop culture stands at the center of a series that constantly makes clever pop culture references, including to zombies. The reference was to "Shaun of the Dead" and not AMC's "The Waking Dead," but still.

"That kind of fits into the 'Community' world," he said of Abed's battle with "TWD" redneck Daryl Dixon. "We have fought zombies too … I think if it came down to it Abed would probably eat a squirrel, too, if he had to. That's my comparison with Daryl Dixon."

Daryl, played by Norman Reedus in the zombie drama, pulled out a win by the narrowest of margins after 87,821 votes were cast, more than 40,000 of those in the final day.

“Community” fans already were campaigning on “Save Community” sites and with flash mobs in some cities after NBC dropped the comedy from its midseason schedule. They rallied behind Abed, turning the tournament into another way to send a message to NBC.

Talking about 30 minutes before voting ended Wednesday, Pudi chuckled when he suggested another parallel between “Community” and “The Walking Dead:” “Survival. I think Greendale is all about survival, too, in some ways … We’re fighting for our show to survive.”

The “Community” cast and crew have filmed 16 of the 22 Season 3 episodes, Pudi said, and will be back to work after the holidays. Although NBC has yet to announce when the remaining episodes will air on the network, fans will be able to see them on Hulu Plus thanks to a deal with the show’s producing studio, Sony. Pudi said fan support like what he saw this week couldn’t come at a better time for everyone involved with the show.

“Thank you guys, for your fingers, for your clicks, for your late nights, for your fake goatees, for converting your friends, for telling your parents, for wearing sideburns, for yelling ‘pop pop.’ We hear it, we see it and we’re just really, really appreciative for it,” he said. “We have been since the beginning. It's our fans who give us that energy and prove to us that we’re doing something fun and different, so just a large 'pop pop' to our fans.”

Despite the show’s low ratings, Pudi knows from conversations at colleges and with other fans—including his mom, who still lives in Chicago—that the show resonates with many viewers. It’s just that many of them watch online or on DVR.

“According to my mom and college kids,” he said, laughing, “the show needs to exist and it’s an important show and, you know, I’ll take that. My mom is usually right…

“I don’t know; I think we’ll be OK. I’m hoping we get at least the senior year out of Greendale.”

Pudi, who is expecting twins with his wife, Bridgette, in a little over a week, had more to say about fans, the tournament and “Community.”

How are you?
I’m doing great. Happy Holidays, Wesolych Swiat, Hakuna Matata.

All that stuff?
[Laughs.] All of it, every single one of it.

Happy Holidays to you too.  
So this is kind of exciting, right?

Have you been watching today?
I just looked at it. I know, I was like wow, it’s getting down to crunch time.

Do you know that when it started out there were like 58,000 votes when the day started. Now it's 80-some thousand.
Wow.

And Joel McHale tweeted it, as did Yvette Nicole Brown and I think Dan Harman, and there was a huge surge of Abed votes.
Wow. All it took was three people more popular than me.

[Laughs.] Right. The difference between Abed and Daryl has swung from 12 percent to 7 percent to 2 percent to 5 percent and now, 1 percent.
Holy crap. Can we learn anything from this voting, like for future elections? People like to vote last minute. What else?

And vote a lot. Not just a Chicago thing.
[Laughs.] People like to vote a lot. Yeah. If zombies are involved in voting it probably goes up I think in some way.

What do you think of the whole thing?
It’s awesome, it’s really cool. It’s interesting … because this is the first time I think we’ve been matched up with a drama. So that’s kind of cool just to be even mentioned in the same category as a drama. That’s really great; that I enjoy.

I think Abed would be very thrilled that he was competing against a character from “The Walking Dead,” although I have a feeling he wouldn't do quite as well in a post-apocalyptic zombie world as Daryl Dixon would. But, you know, he could probably guide him in terms of like trajectory of his arrows, how many zombies in the vicinity. I think they’d be kind of a good team. It’d be kind of fun to watch Abed and Daryl.

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