The morning after “Community” held a “Greendale School Dance” party at SXSW, Dan Harmon moderated a panel on Sunday with the Season 6 cast, cheered on by a room full of fans who have long been tweeting #sixseasonsandamovie.
With production on the show’s sixth season well under way — there are only two episodes left to shoot ahead of the launch on Yahoo on March 17 — fans peppered the showrunner with questions about the possibility of a movie.
“Yahoo seems down for just about anything,” Harmon said, quipping, “I don’t know why they’d turn their nose up to a movie about a low-rated show. They seem to be very naive.”
The panel kicked off with stars Joel McHale, Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs, who riffed about their memories of the show. “This is why I fight for the show,” said McHale. “I know it’s the best show on television.”
They were then joined by stars Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, Paget Brewster, Keith David and exec producer Chris McKenna, who talked about the show’s resurrection by Yahoo, which picked it up after it had been canceled by NBC.
“They finally figured out how to defeat us. They just let us have a show,” McKenna joked. “Last year was hard because we were losing characters and there was just a lot to do…It was a lot of bills to pay and we’re still paying them.”
Asked how the show is different now that it’s on Yahoo, Brie said, “It’s been a difficult question to answer from our perspective because there’s not a huge crazy difference,” joking that they’re not suddenly going to be naked all the time, just because they’re now on a digital platform.
“Dan’s weirdness, it’s just able to exist more,” she added. “That’s more of the difference. In the smaller moments, when someone’s having a rant, that rant can live a little bit longer.”
Turning to Harmon, she said, “The things we’re saying can be as weird as you’ve always wanted them to be.”
Another hot topic on the panel was the extended length of each episode. At NBC, episodes ran for about 22 minutes. But at Yahoo, each runs up to 26.
“Now you guys are getting a lot more ‘Community’ because we love our stuff, and we’re not cutting it out,” McKenna said, to which McHale added, “The episodes were so short [and] we would go, ‘All of this is gold’…I think it’s just awesome that we can just do as much as we can now.”
Harmon touched upon the mutual excitement the show and the streaming network have for each other, pointing out that Yahoo even has an exclamation mark in its logo.
He asked the cast if there is now a different feeling on set.
“I think part of that vibe is yes, being at Yahoo, and feeling incredibly supported,” Brie said. “Everyone from Yahoo who visits is like, ‘We get it. Just do your thing.’ It’s so refreshing. The vibe has been so fun.”
Brie also gave a nod to the cast’s two new members, Brewster and David. “I do think it’s nice to have a couple new people in the sixth season of a show,” she said.
“You never know what it’s going to feel like walking into a situation that’s been established for so long,” David said. “I can’t remember ever being so welcomed…It’s like Vietnam, baby!”
Brewster agreed, adding that the new cast already has their own shared inside jokes. “It’s very scary joining a cast that’s been together for so long,” she said. “It’s true, at first, sometimes we didn’t know what you were talking about.”
McHale was quick to display that newfound camaraderie. “She spent the past 25 years on ‘Criminal Minds,’ which was hilarious,” he joked of Brewster. “The thing about her is she’s ugly so she makes up for it in talent.”
The one-hour panel was packed with sarcastic jokes, Harmon’s one-liners (“Can you say f–k? It’s it called South By South F–k?”), nervous super-fans stammering as they got the chance to ask a question — along with season six teasers, like big guest stars and confirmation of another paintball episode.
Harmon even broke out into a beat-boxing rap, improvising, “‘Community’ on Tuesdays at 8:00,” causing the cast to break out in laughter when McHale corrected him, “8:00 on the Internet!”