15 things we learned from the 'Parks and Recreation' PaleyFest panel
11) Aubrey Plaza can be terrifying even if she's asking you to kiss her.
Anyone can throw a joke out during a scene, but the key to great improv is that you have to do it in character. Schur talked about an episode they shot where Ben and April were working in Washington DC, and there's a senator's kid who is terrible to Ben all week long before April finally snaps and tells him off. He said that Plaza was really intense as she tore the kid a new one, and at a crucial point in her rant, she very quietly leaned closer and said, "Kiss me." The kid had no idea how to react, and she said it again, just loud enough for him to hear. "Kiss me."
The kid looked terrified, unsure what to do. When the kid did finally make a slight move as it to kiss her, Plaza pulled back and loudly exclaimed, "DON'T GET NEAR ME." She left him completely freaked out and unsure what was happening.
12) Change is the key to the show.
Most television shows, particularly comedies, are all about the status quo. Things don't change much, and that's one of the reasons audiences tune in. They know what they're getting from week to week. On "Parks and Recreation," though, change has always been a big part of the show.
Amy talked about how her relationship with Ben might have been drawn out to several seasons on some shows, but here, they had a secret for one season, but they moved past that. They kissed. They fell in love. They got married. "It's the way life happens," she said. "The writing on this show is so powerful and aggressive and active. It's so interesting to be on a show where people change."
She hinted with a giggle that there are more big changes in store for the season finale, telling Schur, "I don't envy you having to make that work next year. Lots of changes."
Jim O'Heir added, "I got chills when we got those final pages."
Patton replied, "Well, that's because they were written on human skin, to be fair."
13) Every "Parks and Recreation" fan turns into Andy when asking a question.
It was amazing to see how nervous and excited and enthusiastic every single fan was during the Q&A part of the event. One guy was so thrown by his own face on the Dolby Theater screen that he was reduced to simply exclaiming "Shit!" repeatedly for about a minute and a half. Pratt was watching that kid with the greatest smile on his face, filling it all away for later use. By the time he actually got his question out, Oswalt led a standing ovation for him from the entire cast.
One fan asked them to run down all of their favorite guest stars, and Offerman's answer earned him a high five from Patton. "I"ll take Meghan Mullally," he said, adding after a pause, "In about 45 minutes."
Billy Eichner talked about playing a scene with Henry Winkler, who dropped into the Fonz voice at one point, freaking out Ben Schwartz, Adam Scott, and Eichner, who hadn't asked him to do it. Patricia Clarkson got a shout-out, as did Louis CK, Brad Hall, and the great Jenny Slate. Offerman also mentioned Sam Elliott, and Aubrey added June Diane Raphael.
Mike talked about how often he'll see someone and just decide they need to build a role for them, mentioning Eichner specifically. "When I saw 'Billy On The Street' for the first time, I picked up the phone and called all of Hollywood and said, 'Find Billy Eichner.'"
Eichner seemed genuinely touched at the idea that they had wanted him on the show at all and said, "I'm just happy to be on the stage where John Travolta said 'Adele Dazeem.'"
Several people talked about how inspirational Leslie Knope is, which seemed to really please Amy. "I genuinely love her. I want her to do well and succeed. I love her exuberance. I'm a little lazier and more cynical and more checked out than she is, but the idea that the hero is someone who's all in is the coolest. There's nothing cool about her. She has no game. She has no tricks. Everything is face value. She tells everybody all the time what she's feeling. What's cool about her is that there's nothing cool about her. That's so much fun to play."
14) "Cones Of Dunshire" is coming back.
One fan wanted to know if Ben would ever finish "Requiem For A Tuesday," and while that doesn't appear to be in the works, Schur did reveal that "Cones Of Dunshire," Ben's next unemployment project, will be making a return to the show soon.
15) The cast really truly loves these characters.
Asked what inspiration they draw from their characters, the cast started laughing. Retta was quick to replay, though. "She gets laid."
Eichner seemed at a loss to find something inspirational about "Crazy Craig," but eventually said that he likes that the character is 100% not repressed. Ben Schwartz was equally puzzled at the idea of finding some good in Jean-Ralphio. "He does exactly what he feels," he finally said. "It gets him into trouble, and he follows the wrong parts of his personality, but he does exactly what he feels, and he loves life."
O'Heir said that he loves the way Gary/Jerry/Larry just lets everything roll off his back because he knows how good his life is. Retta said that she loves the way Donna protects her friends, even if they drive her crazy.
Adam Scott said one of the earliest traits that they defined for Ben is what hooked him on the character. "From the outset, the thing I liked about him was that this terrible thing happened to him as a teenager, and the decision he made was just to put his head down and work hard and get out of this hole that he dug for himself. I think that's been a very consistent thing with the characters. He's a hard worker. He's always going towards something better, and he found her."
Offerman said, "I am told at my job to eat a great deal of bacon and eggs and steak, and drink Scotch. A Lagaulin 16, to be specific, and I frequently am allowed to not say anything."
Plaza said she loves that April can be a responsible smart woman, but that she can also drop all of that in a second to have fun or to screw something up for laughs. She also loves the way April simply looked at Andy, who she described as "the stupidest man," and just decided to love him.
Pratt laughed. "Yeah. He is maybe the stupidest man. Knowledge is very dangerous. He's never eaten the apple from the tree of knowledge. He's just full of joy and bliss."
It was Amy that summed it up best, though, and who really cut right to the heart of what makes "Parks and Recreation" more than just a silly comedy. "I'd like to think that when the show ends, and I hope it never does… growing up, I always liked characters when you could imagine them on the weekends. I don't even like to think about the ending. But it's coming. I love that her dreams are big and her power is small. She's met the love of her life. Sometimes that's enough."
Week in and week out, the crazy, hilarious dreamers of Pawnee score the small victories, and any show that has the courage to suggest that's enough is worth championing.
"Parks and Recreation" airs Thursday nights on NBC.