Rising star Donald Glover credits his “unusual” Atlanta upbringing for forming and informing his comedic outlook on life.
“My parents had a lot of foster kids living with us, and a lot of my stuff is autobiographical — stuff that weirded me out as a kid,” he says. “I was the only black kid in my school for a long time, and I got picked on a lot as I was a big nerd. I was really into ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Looney Tunes’ and crafts and writing plays. I wasn’t one of the cool kids.”
That all changed when he moved to Gotham to study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. “I started doing sketch, then standup and improv, although I always just liked the term ‘comedian,’ as then people don’t put you in a box,” he notes.
At NYU, he co-founded Derrick Comedy with a handful of like-minded friends, attracting a sizable following for their online shorts. And while still a resident assistant, he landed a staff writer gig on NBC’s “30 Rock.”
“It changed my life — and my comedy,” he says. “Tina Fey took me under her wing and really pushed me to find my own voice. Going in, I didn’t really know who I was comedically, but coming out (after writing there for the first three seasons) I felt far more confident.”
With his Derrick Comedy cohorts, Glover co-wrote, produced, scored and starred in Sundance midnight selection “Mystery Team,” which he calls “an homage to ‘Encyclopedia Brown.'”
Since recently moving to L.A. the 25-year-old comedian and writer has performed a lot with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. “I also head to the Laugh Factory and try some standup anywhere there’s some free space,” he adds. “I really like the underground comedy scene here as it gives you a chance to try out material you can’t always do in some places.”
Next up is NBC’s “Community,” an ensemble sitcom co-starring Chevy Chase “about a bunch of losers at a community college.”