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The Best of ‘Dan Harmon with a Microphone’ at CommuniCon

You’re not tired of our never-ending Community obsession, are you? No? Good — because our infatuation with Dan Harmon has reached a new high. Last night, we found ourselves glued to our laptops for the CommuniCon livestream, which featured a writers panel, an actors (with non-major roles) panel, a surprise Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown, and a “Dan Harmon with a Microphone” segment. The latter was particularly fascinating because — as we’re sure you all know — our beloved Harmon was replaced as showrunner last spring and had no say in the show’s fourth season, which premiered last Thursday. Although the entire Q&A was inspiring and hilarious, we’ve thrown together a selection of noteworthy quotes after the jump.

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On his CommuniCon talk:

“Please be warned: I did not write this down. I did not rehearse this. I thought about this while I was taking a bubble bath today.”

On the season 4 premiere:

“I didn’t watch because I’m the last person who should be watching. I’m the last person that anyone wants to hear from. All I could do is fuck things up — pardon my French. It’s the logical thing for me to do for myself, for everybody, for all of you. What if I loved it? What if I hated it? What could screw things up more than me speaking up about it in the mix of all of this turmoil and all of this confusion that we’re all feeling?”

On the creation of Community and his connection to Jeff:

“When I pitched the show, I was pitching a very meta story about an asshole that learned to love strangers. I knew it was meta already at the time, but I had no idea how meta it was going to get, because I had no idea that this was going to happen. I was pitching the story of a guy who, like me, had gone to community college and had at one point been invited to be part of a study group, but didn’t want to be part of a study group, because he had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose from it. At some time in that study group, during an all-night study session in that little tiny room at Glendale Community College, I all of a sudden started giving a crap about people that I had nothing to gain from in any realness, other than a human one. I thought cynically in my head at that point, ‘This is the kind of stuff that people eat up, right? This is what they’re always trying to give you on TV to keep you tuned in between Snickers commercials.’ Because people like people, and people that want to write television — people that want to direct it, people that want to edit it, people that want to be creative — we love people, but we’re so often dedicated to our love of people that we’re not actually part of people. I was one of those people, and I probably still am, but at that point I realized, ‘Wow, this is a weird story.’ This guy is not a part of people, but he’s going to become a part of people against his will.”

“The whole point of the show was that this thing happened beyond description in that room to this asshole in that study group. That’s what I was pitching. I didn’t have to know what it was. I’m not an expert at it. I don’t own that thing. I don’t carry that thing. All I had to do was say, ‘A thing happened beyond description,’ and that was the story.”

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On Twitter:

“I was on speaker phone with marketing experts. They told me that the name of the show needed to be Community College, because the word ‘community’ algorithmically is not allowed to trend. It’s a very good reason. I mean — Twitter’s algorithm is very complicated. If it just went with words, the top ten Twitter trends would always be ‘the,’ ‘a,’ ‘Bieber.’ They have an algorithm that filters out the words like ‘community,’ ‘taxi,’ ‘cheers,’ ‘friends’ — you know, those words are not allowed to be trending profits because they’re incredibly basic words. Community is used over and over and over again. If you search for #community on Twitter, you’re going to run up against a bunch that will say ‘last night sucked’ and ‘this night was great,’ but beyond that, you’re going to see people going, ‘The #hispanic #community needs to do [this],’ and ‘The secret to #community is [this] and [that].’ The interesting thing is, we could go one or two ways with that. We could change the name of our show to Skittles McBittles so that we could consolidate our market, or we could make sure that the show is worthy of the name Community. It’s as powerful as any person who has ever wanted to be in touch with another human being.”

On alcohol and nerves:

“I was told there wasn’t going to be liqour served on the campus here tonight, so I maybe did a couple shots before I came here.”

On humanity:

“There are two kinds of people in this world. There are the people that will have you think that there are two kinds of people in this world, and there are the ‘good; people. There is no good, there is no evil, there is just a war going on between the people that want you to think there’s a war going on and the people that know there doesn’t have to be one.”

“There are two facts about humanity and they’re both undeniable. You are reminded of them every second of every breath you take. One is that we are separate. You’ll never be able to escape that. The other is that we’re absolutely together. Those two things are swirling and swirling and swirling around, and you have a choice with every breath you take and every sentence you make to celebrate one side or the other. You can celebrate the separation or you can celebrate the union, and you can forgive yourself for celebrating the separation, because that is what you are. You wake up in bed as not part of some blob of humanity. You wake up as John Smith or Kyle Davidson. You wake up as an individual, but all of those moments where that gets painful fall back on the fact that you are part of everyone around you.”

“I think the most important thing you can know is that you want to be a part of all the other individuals. You don’t want to be alone. There’s a personality disorder for every single thing you can name under the sun. There are people who put entire jars of peanut butter up their butt. There are people who are sexually attracted to cats. But there is no one who wants to be alone.”

On wrapping up a heartfelt speech about humanity:

“Let’s do some freestyle rapping.”

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On the Community writing process:

“On Community, because of the nature of network TV, we settled into a process about coming up with premises and ideas freeform. You’re driving on the way to work and you see a billboard that says “Q-Tips are great.” The idea could be as simple as Shirley is allergic to Q-Tips, or Troy and Abed build a robot out of Q-Tips, or any random idea. The next step is to see whether or not those things can be cleaved into the beginning of a story.”

On his personal writing process:

“I still don’t have one. Give me nine months to write something and I will find out what I can masturbate to for eight months and three weeks, and then I will come to a confrontation with myself at a corner bar, or the ghost of my dad will say, ‘You don’t work hard enough,’ and I’ll go, ‘Screw you, I’ll have them put an extension on my deadline!'”

On wanting to make people laugh for a living:

“I always wanted to be the center of attention. I always wanted to make people happy. When I was a tiny itty-bitty little guy I used to do little shows for my mom’s birthday and for Valentine’s Day. I would use a desk and pretend I was Johnny Carson.”

On casting Community

“It was asking people to run lines, and then it was asking them to run them a completely different way. ‘Prentend this is drama. Pretend that it’s comedy. Pretend it’s a three-ring circus. Pretend its a cereal box. Pretend its a cartoon.’ Those were the people we needed, and back then we didn’t know how much we would need that.”

On Chevy Chase in the “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” episode:

“Chevy Chase was amazing in that episode, because he was playing himself! I was like, ‘See? It’s him! And he’s going to win an Emmy doing this. He’s a villain! He’s a bad person! And he loves it!’ And he’s lovable for that reason — he saves a kid’s life, but he’s committed to be a bad person.”

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On Community actors:

“They’re weird by nature. Their job is to be psychotic — they literally live in two different worlds. Don’t trust them.”

On “Dean” puns:

“Dean puns were like a drip pan for all the writers. Punnery is the lowest form of comedy writing. I can’t remember when it started happening… it had to be first season, there was a point when the Dean said ‘a new day is deaning,’ or ‘a new dawn is deaning.’ It’s like he’s so obsessed with being a good dean that he inserts ‘dean’ into stuff.”

On Nicolas Cage:

“For two seasons we wanted to do an episode where Jeff Winger pretended there was a class called ‘Nicolas Cage Appreciation,’ and then the Dean caught them and as punishment to them he was going to make that a real class and force them to watch all the Nicolas Cage movies in one night. The thing about Nicolas Cage movies is… unless you’re a total cynical dick, you have to embrace the fact that Nicolas Cage is a pretty good actor. He’s done a lot of weird, dumb movies, but that was supposed to be the point of the episode — that Nicolas Cage is a metaphor for God, or for society, or for the self, or something. It’s like — what is Nicolas Cage? What is he? Is he an idiot? Or a genius? Can you write him off, or is he inexplicably bound to your soul?”

On future TV projects:

“I wrote a thing for CBS, and it was driven by the idea of a certain actor being in it, but I don’t think he wanted to do it, so I think that thing will fizzle. It was a multi-camera thing. And I’m writing a thing for Fox that will hopefully be a single-camera thing. I don’t know how much like Community it will end up being, because it won’t have the same two-hundred people, so back to the drawing board on that. And then in 2014 I’ll have a show on Adult Swim, of all places.”

On making a feature:

“I want to really bad, but TV keeps beckoning to me. As soon as TV’s done with me, really, which won’t be long. I’m going to exhaust my access to network TV, which I’m doing a good job of… then I’ll try to emulate Vince Gilligan with basic cable, and whether I’m successful or not, I’ll have more time to do a feature script at that point.”

On future CommuniCons:

“I’ll come to every one, I swear to god.”

“If eight people have a Troy costume contest in their living room, I’ll be there.”

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