Like many shows before it, “Parks and Recreation” took a little bit of time to find its groove. But once it did (somewhere near the beginning of its second season), it became one of the most consistently heartwarming and hilarious series on television, and one of the very best network sitcoms of the past decade. Last night, PaleyFest hosted the cast and creator of “Parks and Rec” on a panel moderated by Patton Oswalt, who himself has appeared a few times on the show (most famously delivering an epic rant pitching the plot of Star Wars: Episode VII), and the result was one of the best live events I’ve ever attended. I love these actors (and the characters they play), and it was one of those situations in which my face hurt by the end of it because I was smiling the entire time.
Tomorrow’s night’s episode, entitled “Galentine’s Day,” was screened for the crowd (it’s a great one, so make sure you tune in!), and then Billy Eichner (Craig), Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio), Jim O’Heir (Larry), Retta (Donna) Adam Scott (Ben), Amy Poehler (Leslie), Nick Offerman (Ron), Aubrey Playza (April), Chris Pratt (Andy), and creator Mike Schur took the stage for the panel discussion. Here are the highlights:
1. Every year, Amy and Nick do a scene in which Leslie and Ron make out as a joke, but Mike Schur won’t even put it on the blooper reel because it’s “super disturbing.”
2. Chris Pratt earned the role as the lovably dumb Andy Dwyer in an audition in which he pretended to play Grand Theft Auto while Rashida Jones’ Ann Perkins was trying to have a conversation with him, and Pratt continually ad-libbed ways he was going to kill pedestrians in the game – so much so that they never actually got around to reading the real lines for the audition.
3. Schur and the casting directors had seen Aziz Ansari on “Human Giant,” thought he was funny, and cast him without a character in mind for him. Schur said they basically just went out and found funny people and wanted to tailor the characters to the individual actors. The same thing happened with recent addition Billy Eichner – they saw “Billy on the Street,” met with Eichner, and basically said they’d find a spot for him somehow on the show.
4. This year’s season finale is poised to be very memorable. Amy Poehler: “The stuff that happens in that last episode is bonkers. It ends with a lot of change.”
5. Schur revealed that Ben Wyatt’s uber-nerdy board game “The Cones of Dunshire” will be making another appearance before the end of this season.
6. When asked to name his favorite guest star, Nick Offerman chose his wife and threw in a sexual reference while he was at it. “I’ll take Megan Mullally…in about forty-five minutes.”
Overall, it was a great night for one the funniest shows on network TV, and a celebration of the writers and actors who bring laughter and humanity into our homes every Thursday evening.
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