Former Glendale College student Dan Harmon, creator of the NBC Television’s “Community,” spoke about the origins of the show in Kreider Hall on Nov. 3 after screening a future episode.
The setting on the stage was similar to the “Inside the Actor’s Studio” setup, with mass communications professor Sharyn Obsatz taking the place of James Lipton.
Harmon began by talking about his life and the origins of the show. During his time at Glendale College he took a biology class in which he consistently got A’s on tests. As a result, two students took notice and asked if he wanted to create a study group with them.
Harmon said he didn’t really have an incentive to join a study group but teamed up with two students anyway. He ended up caring about how the two students did.
“I was 32 years old and I gave a crap about whether or not these two strangers passed a test,” Harmon said. He said that his experience in his biology study group inspired the idea of “Community.”
The show is a comedy that revolves around students from different walks of life who are brought together because they create a study group.
A current GCC biology professor asked Harmon who his biology professor had been at the time. He said that it was Professor Robert Mauk and he admitted that he had a “man crush” on him. He did an impersonation of Mauk that had the whole audience laughing.
He talked about how he was met with some uneasiness when he first pitched the idea to network executives. When he told them it was going to be set in a community college, he received questions like, “Is this going to be depressing? Are the roofs going to be leaky?”
Harmon said he loves the community college setting because “it is a fun place that doesn’t have to be populated by one group of people.”
Harmon also mentioned a time when he went on NPR to talk about his show and the announcer of the show tried to “get sound bites” by asking him tricky questions about the setting of the show. Harmon stressed that his goal was not to make fun of community colleges.
The talk shifted to a more inspirational speech as Harmon gave advice to students. He told students to follow their laziness. He tried to tell the audience that they should pursue something they love to do.
“There is something all of us would do for free,” Harmon said, “I can say with my hand on a stack of bibles, I would do this without getting paid.”
Harmon tried to rally some of the “writers of color” toward the end of the speech. “There is a serious lack of diversity in writing,” Harmon said. He talked at length about how he felt that there is a need for more diverse writers in television.
The writer said there was a program at NBC that allowed shows to hire a minority writer for a season for free to help promote the blending of ethnicities on the writing staff. “I think that is very admirable of them.”