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Keith David on Why He Joined ‘Community’

As “Community” made its big jump from NBC to Yahoo Screen, it also made a few other changes — notably, casting. As Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover and Chevy Chase had left, Paget Brewster and Keith David entered the cast for season six. Though observant fans would notice that David isn’t completely new. He previously narrated an epic pillow fight episode. David spoke with Variety about working with the cast, his character and why fans are so passionate about the show.

Why did you join the cast?
Two seasons ago, I got a job narrating the pillow fight episode on “Community,” and I understand it went over very well. I love smart comedy that comes out of live situations. That’s what’s funny. Life is funny. You don’t have to have a laugh track — joke setup joke. I went to community college for a short time, but my work schedule interfered. It’s a certainly interesting premise to begin with. That’s the stuff you can sink your teeth into.

What was it like working with the cast?
They were wonderfully welcoming. That’s a great thing about this job.

It’s always hands down better when you’re working in a loving environment, when people are getting along. It’s a pleasure to come to work.

Tell me about your character.
Elroy was big in the ‘90s with virtual reality. He thought that virtual reality would catch on and he’d become a millionaire. But it didn’t happen like that. It wasn’t the boom it was cracked up to be. He finds himself a displaced citizen wondering what to do with the rest of his life — just at a time when Greendale lost their IT person. So I’m the new IT lady. I’ve come to replace her and take care of the IT needs of the school.

What do you have in common with your character?
He’s an old school guy; I’m an old school guy. He’s probably a little older school than I am. He’s far more of a geek than I am. I do like that he has boundaries come out of his own experience but he’s open to extending those boundaries especially at this point in his life. That’s what we have in common. I think he’s more of a peacemaker than a troublemaker, but he’s not opposed to getting into trouble every once in a while.

Do you enjoy working with Dan Harmon?
I like his style. The writing is great. The better stuff that’s on TV is very smart. It doesn’t play down to the audience. It makes you have to come up to it. It uses references that you have to think about.

How does it feel to see the show on Yahoo?
The best thing it feels for me is supported. I’ve been on a couple of network shows that have been cancelled too soon. Network support is subjective to who the executives are. This is nice because Yahoo is being very supportive. It’s nice to feel you’re coming out of a new stall on the racetrack. Being welcomed is nice. Being supported is even better. The thing about “Community,” it’s a show with heart. It’s about what real people do, situations that real people find themselves in. You can take any given episode of “Community,” go to any community college around the country, and see anyone of these people

Is that why fans love it?
I believe so. That’s one of the reasons we watch TV. The theater is still the place where we have to examine what it means to be a human being. That’s where we can be in the same room and breathe the same air as those actors on stage and deal with the story that that playwright has chosen to tell and be one with it. Movies and TV have that same potential to examine what it is to be a human being, to see ourselves reflected in this other medium, to see what we can learn about ourselves. What would I do differently? The world is more diverse than it’s ever been. Television doesn’t always reflect that. But “Community” certainly does.

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