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Interview: Andy Samberg and creators on FOX’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Interview: Andy Samberg and creators on FOX’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Interview: Andy Samberg and creators on FOX’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
September 17
14:55 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

The North Texas Daily had the chance to speak to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”) and show creators and executive producers Dan Goor and Mike Schur. We talked about the cop genre, comedy within the genre and the future of comedy writing.

What made you all want to do a cop comedy? What was it about the cop genre that appealed to you?

Mike Schur: “When Dan and I first started thinking of ideas for shows, we started talking about the idea of doing a cop comedy, and we pretty quickly realized that there hadn’t been a half-hour cop comedy in a while. In this day and age where there are 10 million shows about every genre, every setting, every location that is possibly imaginable by the human brain— that made it seem like kind of an exciting challenge. And we were fans of Barney Miller. We have fond memories of Barney Miller. And the more we talked about it the more it seemed like something that, at least in the half-hour network comedy world, was somewhat unexplored territory. As soon as we came to that conclusion and we started talking about it, we just liked the idea more and more and we kind of stuck with it.”

Andy Samberg: “Well, I definitely was going to get to wear a cool leather jacket, which was appealing. Honestly, I’ve always enjoyed cop comedies, cop dramas as well as cop films. I like the procedural aspect of it, and I also really like the work place aspect of it. When it comes to work place comedies there is really no one else I would want to work with than these dudes, Mike Schur and Dan Goor.”

Dan Goor: “We also really like the world because we thought it was a cool way to have interesting characters, both in the police department and in terms of the people that they interact with, so that it’s an interesting subsection of humanity that cops get to deal with.”

One of the funniest parts of the pilot is when Captain Ray Holt, played by the great Andre Braugher, asks Andy’s character, “What’s wrong with you?” I’m curious if that, or some variation of it, is something that is going to be continued throughout the season?

Schur: “Yes. The answer is yes. Most of the episodes involve Andy’s character, Jake Peralta, doing something that requires Braugher’s character to say some version of, “What the hell is wrong with you?” That’s a pretty constant theme. For example, right now, Andy is eating a giant bag of beef jerky. I think if Captain Holt were here he would be staring blank faced at Andy and saying, “What is wrong with you?”

Samberg: “He would say, ‘Peralta, that’s way too much sodium for you.’”

Andy, how is working on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” compared to “Saturday Night Live?”

Samberg: “It’s better in that, for me any way, it’s much less stressful because the hardest part of ‘SNL’ was having to create something new every week. With this, I basically have scripts handed to me every week that are already great with a bunch of jokes that are already written, which, in my opinion, is the hardest part of comedy. So in that regard it’s been a lot less stressful for me.

Certainly, the hardest part changing has been waking up early versus staying up incredibly late with ‘SNL’, which is much more my element, but I’m adjusting nicely. And I say that with full confidence.”

Did a former “SNL” star give you any advice that you’re using now for your new character in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine?”

Samberg: “No, but I will say that I took a cue from Amy Poehler in terms of feeling confident about making this decision. Not just because she ‘seg’d’ successfully out of the show into a show, but because she literally did it with the same guys.”

I imagine growing up that you guys watched a lot of cop television shows and movies. Andy, you probably went through a lot of training to prepare to play Jake. Mike and Dan, I bet you had to do a lot of research to write for the show. Taking all of that into consideration along with the first day versus the latest episode that you all shot, how has your perspective of being a cop changed?

Goor: “Well, we have some great technical advisors, It’s funny— when we’re pitching stories and trying to come up with funny and interesting things for Jake and the other characters to go through, sometimes we’ll pitch something really crazy or dangerous or outlandish and every single time the technical advisors are like, ‘Yeah, I’ve done that. I’ve done worse. I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen tougher.’ And I think over the process. We already had a tremendous amount of respect for police officers in general, but we’ve gained even more respect and are sort of drop-jawed at the sort of things that these guys have been through.”

And lastly, what’s your opinion about the future in comedy? Do you think situational comedy is going to win over highbrow intellectual comedy writing?

Schur: “I think that there is often kind of lines of demarcation drawn by different people about comedy and what types of comedy there are and whether this type of comedy is better than that type of comedy. But I kind of feel, personally, like it’s a really big country and a big world and there are like 7,000 stations making original programming right now, and that comedy is the most subjective art form in the world, I think. There is no other art form where one group of people can look at something and say that’s the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen in my life and another group of people can look at it and say that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and I hate it.

That’s what makes comedy great is that there is room for everybody. No matter what you like in the world right now, no matter what flavor you like your comedy, there are a 100 shows that are making that kind of comedy. So I think the future of comedy is that there is going to be a lot of it, and as a comedy writer, I wholeheartedly approve of that future. And what’s fun about it is you get to make whatever you think is good, assuming that enough people watch it to keep it on the air, and you just get to put it out there and see who likes it.”

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” premieres tonight at 7:30 p.m. on FOX.

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