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Interview: Five questions with Donald Glover

May 25, 2010 - 8:05 pm

At last summer’s Comic-Con, a little film called Mystery Team generated some pretty good buzz. It’s a weird little movie, created by the guys behind DERRICK Comedy, a sketch group that hit it big on YouTube. Your forgiven if you’ve never heard of it–the film eventually had a very limited release and never made its way to San Diego. But since then, one of its stars, Donald Glover, has had a lot of success, playing the slightly dim jock Troy Barnes on the NBC show Community. If you’ve seen the show, you know he’s a funny guy, and Mystery Team is a funny film, sort of like Arrested Development meets Encyclopedia Brown. Along with his cohorts, D.C. Pierson and Dominic Dierkes, Glover plays one of a trio of adorable young detectives. The Mystery Team solved all kinds of crimes around town when they were little kids, but now they’re about to graduate from high school, and no one takes them seriously. They’re PG teens living in an R-rated world (and film). Glover, who also recently performed live here in San Diego at the UCSD Sun God Festival, was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work via email.

Citybeat: You’re best known for playing Troy Barnes on Community, but you got your start with the Internet-sketch video team DERRICK Comedy. Could you please describe DERRICK in a handy twitter-length 140 characters? Cheating is allowed.
Donald Glover: DERRICK is a group of lovable, but responsible misfits.  Young guns, if you will. We met in college and started making sketches together in New
York.

You went from doing DERRICK  to writing for 30 Rock to acting in Community. What’s it like, transitioning from doing your own ideas to someone else’s?
It’s an easier transition than you’d think, because you to add your point of view to the equation.  On the 30 Rock staff, I wasn’t asked to pitch ideas Tina might pitch, they have Tina for that (and she’s WAY better at it than I am).  But they do ask you to write jokes that are more YOU than anyone else, and I think that’s what all comedy is about.  Your personal taste.

Mystery Team never made its way to San Diego, so it’ll be new to a lot of people. Your face is on the box, but it’s more of an ensemble piece, right? What challenges did you run into moving from sketch-length pieces to a feature-length film?
I’d say the challenge was having people take us seriously.  I think a lot of people saw us as internet knuckleheads.  And I know the internet can be a place to find a lot of shit, but that’s only because everyone’s on it.  There’s really good stuff there, you just have to search for it.  We believe in quality and work really hard on everything we make, so I think the biggest challenge was getting people to understand we wanted the movie to run like an actual movie and we wanted to make something as close to classic as we could get.

Now that you’re rich and famous, do you still work with, or even stay in touch with, the little people who helped you get where you are?
No.  I haven’t seen DERRICK since the last day of shooting on Mystery Team. And I’m writing this from my yacht on Lake Michigan.

Just how sick are you of people asking if you’re related to Danny Glover?
I’m just annoyed no one asked if I’m related to Crispin Glover.


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