15 things we learned from the 'Parks and Recreation' PaleyFest panel
7) No one cries on cue better than Retta.
Still talking about the hunting episode, Retta admitted, "I was very scared of Greg Daniels. I'm still scared by Greg Daniels. I can't wear heels, and I can't run, but I had to wear boots and run to my car. We started to do the scene, and it said, 'Donna has to cry because her car was shot,' but I was so scared for real that in the rehearsal, I lost my shit."
Amy told her, "You're the best at crying on cue."
Retta explained, "I've got a lot of shit going on. I cry myself to sleep every night. I was afraid I was going to get fired during this episode. I knew I could cry, but I was wailing. The crew behind the house was like, 'What the fuck is going on?' That episode was a mess. That's when we slammed the car door on Rashida's face. I'm going to cry thinking about it now."
8) Jerry's family is his reward for putting up with his co-workers.
One of the things I've heard some viewers complain about is the constant cruelty heaped on Jerry Gergich, Jim O'Heir's character. There's plenty of that on-set, too, like the season-opening read-through the year they added both Retta and O'Heir to the opening credits. They showed the cast a mock-up of the new credit sequence. Retta's title card featured a shot of her, but the title card for O'Heir was just a box with a question mark in it and the caption "No Photo Available."
Mike Schur said that the creation of Jerry's family life was the only way he could justify the way the character was treated otherwise. "As we started really making him a punching bag, we decided that the only way we could constantly have him falling and farting is if he has the best life of any of these people. And when the writers pitch doing something terrible like his wife should leave him, no. It's the only way I can deal with what we do to him."
In other words, as long as Christie Brinkley's willing to return to play his wife, everyone's going to keep treating Jerry terribly.
9) Nick Offerman considers himself a nerd.
Patton turned to Nick and said, "Nick, you did full-frontal nudity on DEADWOOD." He paused for a good four or five seconds, then added, "I just wanted to say that."
Patton then brought up Nick's real-life fondness for wood-working and asked if that was something that the producers saw in real life and then added to the show. Nick explained that in the early days of talking to the producers, they would call him at his shop, not aware that he was working, and he'd tell them that he needed to turn off a table saw so he could hear. Eventually they asked him what he was talking about and when he explained, they loaded up all the writers for a field-trip.
"They sent the writers over on a bus. They got out, walked around, and eventually turned to me and said, 'You, sir, are a nerd.' And I guess they decided they could milk some comedy out of my nerd hobby." Since then, he's made several things that have appeared on the show, like the boxes that were given to Chris and Anne when they left the show, and for the wrap present this year, he made the entire cast Pawnee baseball bats.
And if you want one, there's good news. "That shit's going on Ebay," said Retta.
That's not his only real-life interest that made it into the show. When they approached Nick about the idea that they were going to have Ron moonlight as a jazz musician named Duke Silver, he replied, "Perfect. I play the saxophone."
Jim O'Heir confirmed that all of them have had the real lives folded into the show at times, adding, "Remember when they had the doctor on the show tell everyone that Jerry had the biggest penis he'd ever seen?"
10) Chris Pratt knows a lot about "Roadhouse."
Mike Schur talked about how they have evolved the language of the show over time, using these talking head/jump cut sequences to allow the actors to do these great runs of jokes, something they didn't initially plan. He said one of the earliest examples was just Andy listing off band names.
Amy described her favorite example of that kind of sequence. "Pratt had a fun run where he would explain movies. We wrote one for 'Roadhouse,' which came directly off of our conversation about 'Roadhouse.' After we got that one, we just started yelling out titles at him. We would just yell 'Do Rambo!' And Pratt would go, 'Okay,' and then do twenty minutes on Rambo.
Retta started laughing. "Oh, that's right. That's when he did a kick and kicked the TV and it flipped into the kitchen. We had to get a new TV."
Pratt reminded her, "That's also when I did 'Babe: Pig In The City,' and I was like, 'I'm not going to tell you the rest, but it's amazing and you should see it.' And it cut to Retta, and she had tears streaming down her cheeks, and she was like, 'I just did.'"
Mike said the entire line in the script was "Andy talks about 'Roadhouse,'" which made him laugh anyway. But watching Pratt actually play that scene out blew his mind. "Right in the middle of it, he goes, 'Swayze says, not this time,' then stops and says, 'That's subtext. He doesn't really say that.' That's so great."