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Wicked Blood

Andy Samberg, Dan Goor & Mike Schur (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a new TV show that is set to debut on September 17 and can be seen on FOX every Tuesday at 8:30pm. The show revolves around Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and his interesting group of colleagues at Brooklyn’s 99th precinct. However, when a new captain is appointed to the precinct, change is in order as Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) tries to tidy up the mess. Shakefire had a chance to talk to Andy Samberg and the show’s co-creators (Dan Goor & Mike Schur) about the show and their upcoming hijinks.

Shakefire: Hi fellas!
All: Hello!

Shakefire: My first is what was it about the cops genre that you wanted to kind of focus on for a sitcom?
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, and that, in this day and age where there is 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 both fans of Barney Miller and we have fond memories of Barney Miller, and just the more we talked about it the more it seemed like something that, at least in the half hour network comedy world was at least somewhat unexplored territory, I guess. 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.

SF: How about you Andy? What do you think about the cop genre? What was it that appealed to you?
Andy Samberg: Well, I definitely was going to get to wear a cool leather jacket, which was appealing, and honestly, I’ve always enjoyed cop comedies as well as cop dramas as well as cop films and T.V. 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.
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.

SF: So each week does Captain Holt get to ask Detective Jake “What’s wrong with you?” or a variation of it?
MS: Yes. Most of the episodes involve Andy’s character, Jake Peralta, doing something which requires Andre 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, during this conference call 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?”
AS: (Impersonating Captain Holt) “Peralta, that’s way too much sodium for you.” Not to mention this and that.

SF: Andy, how is working on “Brooklyn Nine-nine” different from your time working on “Saturday Night Live?”
AS: I wasn’t expecting to be asked a question. It’s better in that, it’s much less stressful because the hardest part of SNL, for me, was having to create something new every week. With this I have, basically just scripts handed to me every week that are already great and a bunch of jokes that are already written, which is the hardest part of comedy, in my opinion. So in that regard it’s been a lot less stressful for me. The hardest part switching between the shows has been waking up early versus staying up incredibly late with SNL, which is much more my element, but I’m adjusting nicely. I say that with full confidence knowing you can’t see the other two’s eyes rolling as I say it.

SF: Has working on the show changed your perspective of being a cop?
DG: We have some great technical advisors and I think it’s pretty 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, I think, gained even more respect and are sort of drop-jawed at the sort of things that these guys have been through.

SF: Andy, now that you’ve had some experience playing a police detective, if we were to drive you to a real police station or to a crime scene, gave you a prop gun, and a badge, how long do you think you could fake it without being found out as a fraud?
AS: It depends on if it’s an area near any college kids because that’s who recognizes me the most from SNL. But assuming no one had ever seen me anywhere else…. I would say maybe 30 seconds.
SF: Sounds about right.
AS: Not that I’m not taking it seriously, but I don’t want to belittle how much training and how much work actual police officers put in to get to a point where they really know what they’re doing. I can pretend like I know how to fly a plane, but we wouldn’t be in the air very long. I know it looks like I don’t know what it actually takes. Let’s put it that way.

SF: Andy, what do you think of Andre Braugher (Captain Holt) as an actor, a person, and as a comedic character?
AS: As an actor, I am completely in awe of him. This is like a Juilliard-trained, Shakespeare in the Park heavy. He knows exactly how to play drama and has so much experience in that regard. So I’m learning from him every day watching how he approaches things. As a person, I think he’s fantastic. He couldn’t be warmer. It’s been funny because I feel like so many people have this impression of him that he is very intimidating, but I haven’t really seen any of that. He’s been nothing but warm and collaborative and interested and interesting. And comedically, he gets better every day, but he really started off great, in my opinion. Because of that gravitas that he has and that actual acting training and because that’s so the opposite of where I come from and how I’ve gotten into comedy, I feel like our characters play perfectly into our experience leading up to this point. He’s able to ground scenes and let me sort of act like a maniac all around him like a yipping little dog in a way that has, so far, been really funny. And I think there is no doubt about the fact that he understands comedy wholly and gets the timing of it. Every now and again he’ll ask about the logic of a joke, and often times he’s right to ask and we’ll make an adjustment and it makes it funnier. So yeah…..I think that pretty much covers it. I am all in favor on all three fronts. I think he is awesome.

SF: Speaking of Captain Holt, how often does his character being gay come up? Is that something the show will focus on frequently or not?
DG: Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s a part of his character. We think of it as a character trait that’s like a guy who’s from Orlando or something. It’s a fact of his life and it has certainly influenced what kind of person he is and the shape that his career has taken, but it doesn’t overwhelm him. It doesn’t define him. It’s not the entirety of who he is. I think it’s usually mentioned once an episode or something and we have plans in the future to get more into his personal life and possibly meet his partner/husband, but that won’t happen in the first little batch of episodes. We really wanted to focus on the precinct and the work family before we got into the personal lives of the characters.
SF: Does he have a partner or husband?
DG: Yes, he does and the back story is that he is married.
MS: Our intention is to treat it much the way that we would treat him having a heterosexual marriage. That being said, it obviously, as you saw in the pilot, it informs his backstory and his perspective, and that is a backstory and a perspective that plays in multiple episodes going forward.

SF: My last question is for Mike. I wanted to know if you might get a small character on this show just like you were Mose Schrute on “The Office?”
MS: I think should we be fortunate enough for the show to last a long time. Let’s say it lasts 9 years, I think what will happen is that at the very end it will be revealed that this entire thing was a dream in the mind of Mose. Like, the camera will slowly push past as Jake Peralta assumes the captaincy and the command of the Nine-Nine, it will slowly push outside and into a hospital room where a dehydrated Mose will be lying on a cot somewhere, and you’ll realize that this entire thing was happening in a snow globe next to his bed.
DG: Then they’ll push out further and it will be some fishes…
AS: By the way, FOX wanted that to be the way the pilot ended, and we insisted that it could not be.
MS: Yeah, we laid down the law there. We we’re like, “No, this is not about Mose Schrute. This is about something else entirely.”
SF: Well, thank you guys for your time. I cannot wait to check out the rest of the season.

Paul Arca
Interview by Paul Arca
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