Posts tagged speed stick
A week before the Minnesota Timberwolves made Kris Dunn the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, we caught up with the young point guard from Providence to discuss his decision to finish four years of school, his thoughts on the changing landscape of the NBA, how his skills will translate to the next level and his experience working with Speed Stick’s Coach Speedman aka John C. McGinley. Here’s the chat:
CS: Tell me about your decision to return to college for another season, finish up your degree and improve your game.
KS: The main reason why I came back to school was just to get my education. I put a lot of work in my first three years. I stayed in both summer sessions. I felt like I wanted to get that so no one could take it away from me, and just be a good role model for my two little sisters. They’re heading off to high school and so just to show them how important education is and how important it is to graduate college. I’m just trying to set the standard high for my family, really. And you know, graduation day, that was a special day for us. It was a celebration for me, but also for the family and Providence College, so that was good.
On the court, I feel like I only had one full year of experience in college basketball, due to my injuries. And as a point guard, you have to be a leader, you have to be knowledgeable of the game, and felt like I needed to learn more to become a student of the game before heading off to the NBA. I felt like I needed to hone a couple more things in my game to be NBA-ready when it’s time. Working on my ball handling, my decision making, improving my jump shot and becoming a better defender. A lot of people think I’m a good defender, but I could get even better. So those are the main things. Also, just trying to build a legacy at Providence. Providence hadn’t gotten past the first round in 20 years. To be able to accomplish that, it takes a weight off of everyone’s shoulders. My four years at Providence were amazing,
CS: Do you think other college players might follow your lead and try to hone their game, secure that education, and just get those skills up before going to the NBA? That definitely hasn’t been the trend in recent years.
KS: Yeah, I mean everybody has a different scenario, a different situation at home. Some kids might need the money so that is why they go one-and-done. Some kids might feel like they’re ready right away.
KS: I’m not going to be the first to do this. Down the road, there’s definitely going to be another person who does the same thing as me. So if they do that, I’m blessed to know that I showed them that you don’t have to be afraid to go back and stick to your education. If you feel like you need to tighten up your game a little bit more, then you should be able to do that. You should be able to be a kid one more last time before going to the NBA. Because everybody knows the NBA is a business, so it’s not like how college is where you always have your teammates around. Everybody has different lives though.
CS: The general landscape of the NBA is changing. It’s no longer a league dominated by big guys in the paint. You see what the Warriors are doing and you see how the perimeter game is changing things. How do you think your game will translate to the next level?
KS: I think I’ll adjust okay. At Providence College, all we did was pick and roll, so I’m very used to different schemes based on what defenses would do to us. I’m very comfortable in a pick and roll offense. I feel like I can get anybody involved. I’m very capable of getting into the lane, attacking at the rim or finding the open man. I’ve been doing a lot of that at Providence. And I’m very comfortable with my shot as well. Anybody who watches my games — any big time shot I hit, it wasn’t due to lay ups, it was due to my jump shot. That shows your right there how confident I am in my shot. And I feel like my defense is going to be my greatest strength. I feel like I can defend. I feel like I can cause havoc.
CS: What players did you look up to when you were just learning the game?
KS: The player I looked up to when I was little was Kobe Bryant. It was just all because of his mentality. He’s the type of person that – every day – he’s going to bring it. Whether it’s practice or in the game. His killer mentality, not too many people have that. That’s the type of mentality I’m trying to create for myself. Just bring it every day and don’t back down from anybody. That’s what I loved about him.
CS: So you won’t have the choice to decide where you go in the draft. Is there a certain place you’d like to end up? How do you manage those expectations when it’s out of your hands?
KS: No, actually I don’t have a specific place that I want to go to. My dream is just to be drafted. As a broke kid, all I wanted to do was play in the NBA. And to have that opportunity, to have a chance to be in the lottery, that is a blessing itself. Whatever team that selects me, I’m going to go there and work hard and try to impact the team the best way possible. If they need me to defend or if they need me to do whatever they want me to do. I just want to go there and I want to play. And I know it takes hard work to get out on the court.
CS: Have you done any preparation to account for any draft day jitters or just the pressure and the uncertainty of that specific day in your life?
KS: No. Right now, I’m just excited. I’m excited I’m just excited because me and my family have been through a lot of ups and downs throughout the years. Draft night, it’s a moment for us. I think we deserve to be in this situation because we all worked hard as a family. It wasn’t just me. Everybody put effort into helping me get to where I am. I have to appreciate my family. I have a great supporting cast. That night is for me and my family. I came from Northern Connecticut in an impoverished house, so that night is going to be great.
CS: Who is the hardest player you had to defend in college?
KS: The hardest player I had to defend…. Probably my freshman year, probably Pierre Jackson. When he was at Baylor, when he was a senior, he was a really good player. Fast. Changed his speed really well. He had a jump shot. Other than that, I wouldn’t say a specific player, but I would say teams. Villanova, they’re a hard team. They had so many great players. Seton Hall, they had some great players. Michigan State.
CS: What are you most excited about going from the college game to playing with the big guys in the NBA?
KS: Just going against the other point guards in the league. Everybody knows that this league is starting to get so point guard dominant. There’s so many great point guards around the league. And I just want to see my skill level against the other point guards. See what I have to work on and improve on in order to become an elite point guard. I think that is everybody’s standard, every day trying to become an elite player. You’ve got to go against the best in order to understand what you need to improve on.
CS: So I understand you’ll be working with Speed Stick and Coach Speedman at the #Speedman Combine, what’s that about?
KS: Coach Speedman is John McGinley, the actor. He’s unreal. He’s unbelievable. I had a great time with him during my set. So we’re bringing the media through two circuits. In the first circuit, they’re going to have to do their own commercial, their first commercial. They’re going to mess up, of course. So they bring us in to help them get past their first commercial. So we tell them to stay true to themselves, you know, not try to get too down. Don’t try to be perfect in your first run and whatnot. Just have fun with it. Basically John McGinley taught us to feel comfortable and have a good time with it.
Then the second circuit I think is going to be the best one. It’s the pregame ritual. So the media has to do their own pregame ritual. Going through like Russell Westbrook or Kevin and they’ll be dancing before the game. Or in my case, before the game I love listening to music to get myself pumped up so I don’t have the jitters. It should be really fun.
CS: Is John C. McGinley that hilarious in person?
KS: [Laughs] Oh, he’s so funny. It’s unreal. Like, even when he doesn’t try to be funny he’s funny. He’s amazing.
In any sport or career we look to work with the best. One of the new NASCAR drivers, Cole Whitt looks to follow that lead. Cole will pilot the Premium Motorsports No. 98 in the 2016 season with ongoing support from Speed Stick. Whitt and the No. 98 Speed Stick brand team made their first appearance on track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past weekend.
“I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity to go racing with Premium Motorsports and continue my relationship with Speed Stick,” Whitt said. “Jay Robinson is a smart businessman and has grown his team the right way over the years, and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that growth. The 2015 season was great for me as a driver. We had some important personal victories and some areas where we’ll want to improve.”
The 24-year-old Whitt will enter his third full-time Sprint Cup Series season after progressively climbing the NASCAR racing ranks of the Nationwide, Camping World Truck and K&N series. The Alpine, California native made his transition to stock cars after an early career in open-wheel racing, which included a 2008 U.S. Auto Club National Midget championship.
Known for its line of high-performing antiperspirants and deodorants, Speed Stick previously sponsored Cole during his rookie and sophomore years and connected with fans by documenting the driver’s first race at the Daytona 500 through a unique, online video series.
In addition to this month’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway race, Speed Stick brand sponsored races this year will include high-profile events such as the 400-mile event at Kentucky Speedway in July, the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway also in July, and the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in November.
What creates doubt in your mind? Do you let it get to you? NASCAR driver, Cole Whitt knows what it is like when people are always doubting him. Some wrote Whitt off even after a successful rookie year. Cole did have a few challenges including off-season shoulder surgery, working with a new team, vehicle and crew – and of course the sophomore jinx.
Yet he is looking to defy any doubt. He is working with Men’s Speed Stick. Together they are celebrating the 2015 racing season with an exclusive, online sweepstakes to celebrate fans who mirror Whitt’s courage to step up in high-pressure moments. Whether it’s walking confidently into that big interview or climbing Mount Everest – any moment can be an opportunity to succeed and #DefytheDoubt.
Sounds cool right? You could be the lucky fan, selected on May 30, to attend a NASCAR race of your choice, meet Whitt and watch the action from pit row alongside Witt’s racing team. Want to enter? Here is how you do it!
To enter the #DefytheDoubt Speed Stick Sweepstakes you need to follow @SpeedStick on Twitter. Next tweet a photo showcasing ways they courageously prepare to step up and silence their doubters and use the hashtag #SpeedStickSweepsEntry
Exactly 256 players heard their names called during the seven rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. One of those guys was University of Miami (Ohio) cornerback Quinten Rollins, an intriguing prospect that the Packers selected with the 62nd pick overall. Rollins played four years of basketball in college and finished second in school history with 214 career steals. After securing a fifth year of eligibility, Rollins turned his attention to football, a sport he hadn’t played since high school.
The results were pretty impressive. Playing in just one season, Rollins racked up 72 tackles and seven interceptions in 12 games. That single season performance earned him MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and kept things rolling, securing an interception in that game as well.
By all accounts, Rollins just knows how to get after it. He’s the only basketball player in Miami history to register two 7-steal games. His ball-hawking skills are unquestioned. He was a turnover machine on the football field and the guy likes to tackle, too. He may not have years of experience under his belt, but the dude’s a proven athlete who has shown that he can get results. I got a chance to chat with Rollins a couple weeks before the draft.
So what made Rollins go back to football?
“It was the right move,” he said. “I thought about playing football out of high school. I was playing both basketball and football, but basketball is the path that I chose for education purposes. It was my first opportunity to get to college. My first scholarship offer my junior year. I always knew that I would get back into football. It was just a matter of when and where. I thought about it after my sophomore year, but it didn’t happen. Then my senior year came around and I got an opportunity for a fifth year, and I just took a chance. I decided to sit down and meet with Coach Martin. I was in on a trial basis for spring ball. He gave me the opportunity to come out and earn a scholarship, and that’s what I did.”
I had read that Rollins considered playing basketball overseas, but ultimately, that idea didn’t appeal to him.
“Well, I’m a father. I had already been away from my daughter, being away at college with a 24-7 demanding schedule as far as academics and athletics go. I just didn’t want to go that far away from her. I felt like it would be better for me to stay over here in the US and get back into football. It was just a matter of when and where, and it just happened to work out perfect.”
Rollins is working with Speed Stick on their #DefyTheDoubt campaign. The experience of going from a student athlete to a professional with corporate sponsors supporting you as you make the leap to the next level has got to be a trip, right?
“It’s great,” Rollins said. “I’m blessed that Speed Stick gave me the opportunity to share my journey up until this point. Hopefully it continues to get even better as I continue to grow as a person and as an athlete. It’s definitely surreal to get opportunity to work with these guys like Speed Stick to get these types of endorsements. But at the end of the day, it still matters what you do and how you represent yourself as a person and as an athlete. I still have a lot of work to do, but it’s definitely been a blessing that they’ve allowed me to share my story and my journey. Hopefully, like I said, it continues to keep getting better.”
When tight ends like Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates make plays in the NFL, there seems to be some sort of rule that an announcer must always reference the fact that they played basketball. Seriously, has Jimmy Graham ever caught a touchdown without an announcer mentioning the phrase “former basketball player?” It doesn’t happen. It gets mentioned every single time the guy scores. And he’s scored 51 touchdowns in five NFL seasons. This only seems to apply to offensive players though. I asked Rollins what skills he honed on the court that could make him a defensive difference-maker on the football field.
“Man-to-man defense in basketball,” Rollins said. “That helps me tremendously in man-to-man coverage on the football field as far as my feet go. In basketball, it’s all about your feet. Sliding and moving your feet. It’s the same in football, but in the NFL you can’t put your hands on a guy past five yards. So that’s definitely been one of the most vital things. And then as far as end zone coverage and being point guard, you got to see the whole floor. That’s allowed me, in end zone coverage, to open up and get back to my natural instincts of being a point guard and seeing everything that’s going on and see the big picture. And anticipation. As a point guard, you got to always be a play ahead. It helps in football, too. I can anticipate things and just see it happen before it does happen. Also, having that next play mentality. As a point guard, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have turnovers. You’re going to have bad plays. But just like in football, you might get beat on a catch, but you got to have that next play mentality. You can’t have your head down, because it’s most likely going to come right back at you so you got to be prepared for it.”
Some scouts have projected Rollins as a safety in the NFL. Does he have a position preference for the next level?
“I really don’t care where I play at” he said, “whether it be nickel, outside, inside, back end safety. I’m just ready to get somewhere, learn the system and get going.”
So why defense? Rollins played running back at Wilmington High School in Ohio. He had a chance to play running back in college as well, but Rollins chose defense because of the upside potential at the professional level.
“When I gave coach Martin my film,” Rollins said, “he obviously saw me at running back in high school. He gave me the option, when we sat down and met, he said you can play offense or you can chose defense. After going over the pros and cons for each, I felt defense was going to be better, especially for longevity purposes. Running backs really don’t play that long in the NFL, as opposed to corners. With my size and my athletic ability, I chose the more elite position. It’s valued more. So I figured that was the best route for me to go.”
Smart move, especially with his existing skill set. Big ballin’ tight ends who have size, can get separation and handle the ball in the paint/endzone have certainly become a thing in the NFL. But this could be another trend worth watching. The Packers took Rollins in the second round this year, but last season they selected Baylor CB Demetri Goodson in the sixth. Goodson was also a point guard who didn’t have a ton of football experience in college (he played basketball at Gonzaga). The emergence of highly athletic, ball-hawkish point guards in the secondary is worth monitoring. Especially when these top-flight athletes are making the conscience business decision to apply their skills at a premium position that tends to attract big money.
Basketball and football are obviously different. Sure, the similarities help a guy like Rollins, but he appreciates the differences as well.
“I love the way teams bond together, but that’s what was different. With basketball, we were a very close team, but you look at the work that a football team puts in, it’s totally different. Like how you can get a hundred guys all on the same page, working hard and everything. There’s just something about that that’s special,” he said.
At the end of the day, Rollins just loves to make plays. And big plays can be a lot bigger on the football field than on the basketball court.
“In basketball, there’s a lot of possessions. In football, the possessions are limited. So any time you get the opportunity to make a game-changing play to impact the game in a vital way,” he said, “it’s something special.”
Talking with Rollins, it’s clear that he loves football.
“Everything that comes with the game, I enjoy,” Rollins said. “I actually didn’t realize I missed it that much until I got back out there on the field again. I mean, there’s nothing like Friday night lights, obviously, but Saturdays are special, too. And I’m looking forward to see what Sundays are like.”
I’m not going to pretend to know Cole Whitt. I mean, how can you really get to know someone after two interviews and a weekend in Daytona? But I think I got a good read on the guy, and if I could use one phrase to describe him, I’d say that he’s approachably focused.
He’s equal parts humble and hungry. Whitt doesn’t carry himself like a superstar race car diva. He’s got work to put in and he welcomes that work. That doesn’t mean he won’t flash a big, genuine smile when meeting a fan or take time to answer silly questions from bloggers like me.
When you meet Cole, you sense quickly that he’s a private guy. Not a limelight seeker by any stretch. He prefers CrossFit and the outdoors to press rooms and podiums. Behind this surface of shyness, though, there’s a big heart and a ferocious sense of purpose. You don’t earn a nickname like the Ginger Lion by being a pansy.
It should be noted, that racing ain’t easy, man. Especially if you want to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the nation’s highest stock car division. It’s a taxing endeavor all around. You need financial backing from your teams and sponsors, and soul support from your family and crew. On a weekly basis, you have to overcome the physical rigors of driving hundreds of miles with inches separating you from disaster. Then there’s mental prep required to get your head right before, during and after competition.
This is some seriously stressful stuff, but the stakes are high, my friend. This year’s Daytona 500 had a purse of over $18 million. That’s a lot of coin for 43 drivers to chase in one day.
Thanks to our friends at Speed Stick, we were able to follow Cole Whitt’s full experience of the 2015 Daytona 500. Join us for a moment as we step into his racing shoes…
Imagine you’re a pocket-sized, 23-year-old professional driver entering your second full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. You’re a full-blown ginger and your height and weight aren’t listed on your NASCAR profile. The biggest expectations you have come from within. You’re confident, because you’ve been racing for more than half your life. There’s doubters all around, but not in your inner circle.
Your first season had its set of challenges. Your car got jacked up during practice at the Daytona 500 and there was no backup car available. Your team rallied to make repairs, just to get you into qualifying. With no guarantee that you’d even compete, you make up eight spots on the final five laps of your Budweiser Duel to secure entry in the 2014 Daytona 500.
You showed a ton of promise in your first full Sprint Cup season. You finished better than you qualified in three of every four races you entered. You created some rookie of the year buzz and things looked promising.
With little warning, your racing team shuts down operations in April. You switch teams to close the year out and it’s unclear who’ll have a spot for you next season. Shoulder surgery that cuts into your offseason prep, but at least you secured a spot a new team. With your second season set to begin, you find yourself back in Daytona needing to fight your way in again.
This is where the Ginger Lion stood, right before the Budweiser Duels. Running in the #35 car for Front Row Motorsports, Cole Whitt was on the outside looking in and needed a good showing to earn a spot in the Great American Race. It’s #DefyTheDoubt time for damn sure.
“I told all the guys, it’s like, everything kinda rides on the 500,” Whitt said after qualifying. “If we can get into the 500, from there, the pressure is a little bit off. We still got a lot of work to do for sure, don’t get me wrong. But missing this race could turn the whole career to the wrong side. It could make it pretty hard to get through the season.”
So, no pressure, right?
“I’ve been through this situation more times than I want to be. Last year was very stressful and this year was just as stressful. As far as I was concerned, we had to run top 15. And we did.”
Whitt’s strong finish in the Budweiser Duels meant that he punched his ticket into Daytona to start the 2015 season.
“To be able to lock ourselves in and get all three cars in and push Front Row down the right path, it’s going to be awesome. I look forward to see what we can do this year.”
Speed Stick gave us the opportunity to follow Whitt and his #DefyTheDoubt attitude around Daytona for an important weekend in his young career. Here’s the beat and video we put together to chronicle the experience:
The folks at Speed Stick shared this sweet video chronicling our boy Cole Whitt’s complete sophomore season in NASCAR. Check it out:
I don’t really have an issue with sweaty pits and underarm stank. If I did, you know, I hope my friends and family would say something to me about it. But I haven’t heard any complaints, so I don’t really consider it a big issue.
But I’m not the most extreme guy out there. Sure, I can get intense sometimes (like when I ride my beach cruiser down the Venice Beach bike path at medium speed), but in general, I’m not put into too many situations that stretch the limits of intensity. So I don’t really ask a lot of my deodorant/antiperspirant.
Our friends at Men’s Speed Stick wanted to change that. In an effort to put their Dry Core technology to the test, Speed Stick invited me to test out their new Speed Stick GEAR deodorant/antiperspirant during a GEAR Up Challenge designed to put me in an extreme, sweat-inducing situation.
I had the choice of racing an exotic car, climbing some ice (yea, Sujeet!), taking a flying lesson, going to stuntman academy, paragliding or bungee jumping. I went with the exotic car. Had to.
So a few weeks back I took a trip out to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana with my girl Tam from MankindUnplugged.com. We both chose the racing experience and we were teamed up with Exotics Racing to knock it out. I got five laps in a Ferrari F430 F1 around a 1.2 mile course that featured eight turns and an 1800 foot straight away. The conditions were wet and rainy, but my instructor Theo made sure I got an education while trying not to spin out. Here’s the video:
So yea, by the time I got the hang of it, the five laps were done. I didn’t spin out or anything, but I do wish I would’ve pushed things a bit more. Either way, with all the pressure to push the limit and not cause bodily harm to me, my instructor or the Ferrari, I still came out smelling pretty fresh. If Dry Core technology can work under these circumstances, just think what it’ll do under the normal, less-intense conditions of your everyday life!
You know Danny Pudi. You’ve seen his comic skills and on-point timing on NBC’s hit show Community. Pudi plays Abed, an awkwardly loveable geek with a passion for TV and films (a guy who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome). But Pudi’s not as socially awkward as the character he plays on TV. In fact, the guy’s a pretty smooth dude.
He’s engaging, humble and always willing to make himself the butt of a joke. He’s a sharp guy, but when it comes to his brand of humor, he’s a giver, not a taker. He has the type of humility you’d expect from a guy who grew up having to explain that he’s half Indian and half Polish.
Pudi is a mellow, approachable cat who grew up in Chicago and cut his teeth doing improve at Second City. In addition to his TV work, Pudi’s got a few film projects lined up, he’s new Dad with twins and he’s also working with Speed Stick to help guys deal with random embarrassing situations.
Yes, Pudi and Speed Stick are kicking off a new campaign called “Handle It.” The gist is this: if you’ve got a weird, totally awkward situation that you need to sort out, send a tweet to @SpeedStick (before May 14) and use the hashtag #HandleIt. Danny Pudi will select his favorite submission and the winner will get to see their submission turned into a video where Pudi will provide advice as an “inner voice.”
We talked with Pudi about the #HandleIt campaign, improvising on the set of Community, working with Chevy Chase, fame, fatherhood, Alison Brie’s hotness and a bunch of other things. Here’s the full interview:
CS: So tell me a little bit about how you got involved with Speed Stick and the #HandleIt campaign.
DP: Yeah I think they came to me and we teamed up because I too am fond of and prone to awkward moments (laughs).
DP: Many a time. Starting from childhood when my Mom made me the center of a Polish dancing troupe and I had to explain why that was to most of my friends, all through all my awkward moments with girls and high school, with my wife – which continues to this day. That kind of stuff, from lighting myself on fire, from trying to figure out how to parent a child – which I have two kids now. I’m always hoping I will learn something from somebody else’s awkward moments. My very first red carpet for Community, I ended up walking down the carpet and realized halfway down that I had spinach in my teeth – or actually kale, I had kale in my teeth.
DP: So these kind of things happen to me quite a bit. I even done a couple live shows here like mortified regarding some of these awkward moments. I was excited to partner with Speed Stick, cause we’re asking guys to Tweet some of their awkward stories and how they handled it to @SpeedStick with the hash tag #HandleIt. Out of those stories we’re going to make a video and I’m going to narrate it. So I’m excited to see what we’ll come up with.
CS: So were you involved in the scoping of how you wanted the campaign to play out?
DP: No not really. They came up to me and they told me that they were doing this campaign regarding “handle it” moments and I think it’s something that just kind of resonated with me because there’s nothing I enjoy more and that seems more honest and true to me as an actor and person than that awkward moment between people. And I think it’s part of why I love my characters like Abed. He’s constantly questioning social etiquette, always second guessing how you handled a situation. That to me is life. My wife makes fun of me all the time for some of the things that happen to me. I woke up one time with a squirrel in my bed and I was trying to tell people about that and I ended up freaking out and screaming, and this is when I was doing summer stock theatre. One time I walked out of a building and as I walked out of the building I was really holding in a spit and as soon as I opened the door of the building I spat. I have terrible peripheral vision and I realized I spit in a guy’s face.
DP: I had to explain myself, make sure I didn’t get punched in the face. It was also on my shirt so I was wet. I gave him my sleeve so he could like wipe the spit off his face on my sleeve. And the guy was right next to me so it’s like (laughs) I don’t know. More than anything I’m hoping this generates a community of people who endured these awkward moments together and you have to share that you’re not the only one who has suffered (laughs).
CS: So I read that interviews kind of weird you out still. How are you coping with all the fame and attention you’ve been getting?
DP: It’s strange for me. I’m not used to it. I like to kind of do goofy things, walk around and make sure I can pick my nose in peace. But now people watch me a little bit more so that’s interesting. I do think it’s actually pretty cool too to be connecting with people, audience. The show is actually kind of making an impact. I love that. I love being able to play a character that has—like gives a voice to people. Especially a character that’s a little bit more unusual and not typical to American television. But yeah, as far as like getting used to it, it is weird. Like all of the sudden walking down the street, someone yelling “Abed! Hey Abed! You going to get coffee?” or whatever.
DP: Or “Abed you’re buying blueberries?” and I’m just buying blueberries, just kind of stuff like that. It makes you a little self conscious but, you know, I’m doing okay.
CS: Does it change you at all or do you still feel like you’re the same dude?
DP: I still feel like I’m the same dude. Just because, I don’t know, I’ve been married for a while and most of my friends and my family are pretty down to Earth. And also my family—my mom speaks Polish, she’ll yell at me and curse me out in Polish if I’m doing anything weird. So it’s a nice way to kind of come back to reality. I do still feel like I live in a small town. And I’m not from a small town, but most of my friends and my wife, that’s really who I hang out with. The other thing is the show I’m working on, Community, they’re truly some of the greatest people and they’re very family oriented. And we are like a family so that’s all we do. We literally work and hang out with each other then we go home and that’s it. And then I cry (laughs)
DP: (laughs) I just find a place where I can cry once a week. That usually does the trick.
CS: So what’s it like balancing your work schedule with being a new dad?
DP: That’s really difficult – I don’t know. You’ll have to ask my wife. She has become parent of the century because we have twins too, and she’s trying to do it all. She’s incredible. I mean, I love it. We’re having so much fun. The babies are amazing we’re really blessed. They’re really inquisitive. Every day is sort of a new adventure. They’re three months old now so it’s like all these new milestones. Now they’re mimicking us a little bit. They smile at you and recognize you and man, there’s no … there’s no greater feeling in the world and also no heavier responsibility in the world. I used to like get worried or panicked about memorizing lines for Community and now I’m like if I can get to set or if I can get somewhere when the babies are down for a nap, I feel like I literally just won an NBA championship.
CS: (laughs) So do you like pop culture and movies and TV as much as your character Abed does?
DP: I do. I think that I have an appreciation for pop culture. I think I’m not as, I guess, obsessive in terms of Abed and his knowledge. I definitely don’t have the grasp and reach that Abed does, and the other writers in Community that do Abed. I feel like there are 10 brains working there. You know, there are certain things, like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was just on the other night on USA and that’s like… I get angry when it comes on at 11:00 at night because there’s no way I’m going to be able to fall asleep. I’ve got to watch the whole movie. So there are some things like that where I do feel I fall in line with Abed, but he definitely has a way stronger knowledge. I was more of a famous sports kind of guy. I would memorize baseball cards and baseball players as a kid and I was obsessed with Michael Jordan. That was how I was sort of a fanatic.
CS: So with Community I understand that there’s lots of improvisation that goes on on the show, especially those final segments like with you and Donald Glover. Coming from Second City, that’s something that you really have to enjoy right?
DP: Oh I love it, yeah. I mean to me, I love watching theatre, I love watching TV shows, but there’s no greater inspiration for me than when I watch a really great live improv or sketch comedy show. Like a Second City or Improv Olympic show. Just because it’s just so spontaneous – you’re really part of the discovery as an audience and as a performer. And I think there’s just something really special about being in one place in one row and one moment, and everyone experiencing something truly brand new and spontaneous together. So that to me is something I just love and I think there is a spirit of that in our show definitely. I think Donald Glover and Jim Rash are exceptional improvisers, but most of our cast is really strong comedic actors. We have this group vibe that developed over three seasons. We’re really able to play off each other pretty well. But that’s just fun. Something happens, we start going in a certain way, it’s always kind of fun just to see what happens. It all starts with something specific and really man, it’s the writing which I think helps create these really great characters and allows us that sort of freedom to play.
CS: Now you kind of alluded to this already but it’s really the talent of the people that are around you, with the cast, that makes that successful improv possible, right?
DP: Yes. Definitely. That to me is like the number one thing. That’s why I love to be—I feel like I excel and I feel challenged and most excited and liberated when I’m in an ensemble working with people towards a common goal. That to me is the funniest comedy too, where two people or three people or four people are all trying to do the same thing, all failing in their own individual ways. I mean that’s really entertaining for me to watch. So it’s as simple as watching two people with their bags stuck in a door and watching one person ask for help, the second person comes to help, and these people are struggling and still they can’t figure it out. And you want to help them of course, but there’s something so entertaining about two people trying to help each other, but stuck in a bubble that I will always find entertaining.
CS: When is your character going to get a love interest?
DP: I don’t know, you know? I mean there’s been hints at it. There was the CIA agent last year and there seemed to be sort of a good dynamic between the two. I think it just clicked. Very factual dialogue, they just understood each other. Abed takes direction really well so if you tell him to kiss you now and kiss your for 4 seconds he will do that (laughs). Abed had a Han Solo moment with Annie Edison last year, I think that was fun for Abed, especially to play the heroic character. But I don’t know. It’s definitely going to take a very patient and interesting girl (laughs).
DP: And he’s going to have to love kickboxing.
CS: (laughs) What can you tell me about the possibility of a fourth season?
DP: I don’t know. I’ve been told from others around that they’re confident in it but there’s nothing confirmed yet. We’re all still waiting, just like everybody else. I know that from the history of how I’ve been informed – like about being picked up from hiatus – I was one of the last people to find out.
CS: (laughs) Gotcha.
DP: So I do have a feeling that people on Twitter and Facebook will know probably about an hour or two before I do. Actually even sooner. I don’t know if that’s because I’m aloof or because they don’t want to tell me because they’re scared of how I’ll react (laughs).
DP: We don’t know. We’re hopeful. I think we had a really great strong ending to season three and we’re looking forward to graduating. It makes sense and it would be fun to see what happens in the senior year at Greendale, but in the meantime we did look at every episode as a potential last episode – which is why they were so ambitious.
CS: So I read something on your Wikipedia page that sounded like the coolest couple sentences ever; that you won the Chris Farley scholarship and that lead to an improv comedy event with Jim Brewer and Dave Chapelle? I mean, that has to be insane.
DP: Oh yeah, it was completely overwhelming. I only remember about 30% of it (laughs).
DP: I kind of feel like I’m always thrust up to these very “trial by fire” situations. It was like when I first went in to read for Community. It was Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, and Gillian Jacobs there and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t believe I was sitting there at this table with these people. So it’s the same thing with that event. In college I was a junior and won the scholarship. When Chris Farley passed away they developed this scholarship in his name, a comedy scholarship, I won it. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was kind of a little lost, and it led me to study comedy. I was doing some theatre in college but I was really becoming more and more interested in the art of comedy. I learned that Chris Farley had studied at Second City and that eventually led to a Saturday Night Live career. The first thing I do is sign up for a class at Second City and that really kind of changed my life in terms of realizing that … first of all getting me out there so that I could do it for a living, and also it was just so much inspiration. That place is really historic and kind of an institution. Going in there and watching shows and doing shows, I just knew right then I wanted to do this for a living. And one of the first things they did, I was asked to be in this show, just improvise a little bit in between the sets that Jim Brewer and Dave Chapelle did, and I was just blown away at how good they were and also completely over my head. Which was fun though, because I realized more than anything, I needed to start studying for real.
CS: So what advice do you have for young comics or young people interested in improv that are just getting started? Is it time on task? Is it variety? What would you say to young people who are interested in following a similar path?
DP: That’s really a tricky question because I do think that people learn differently and I think people are inspired in different ways. One of the things, for me, that I know that works is I needed to be surrounded by people that are better than me. I always feel like that helps. So at Second City I made sure I’d take classes from people that I’d see on stage or really admired their talent or their point of view. So that helped. It also helped performing a lot because I think you develop your voice. I didn’t move straight to Los Angeles, I was in Chicago for about three years before I moved to Los Angeles. But Chicago allowed me to perform a ton so by the time I got to Los Angeles, even though I came out there with nothing, I at least felt like I started to develop my own comedic voice and had enough performances under my belt to kind of feel confidence when I was on stage. So that’s what I did. I watched a ton of shows. If I saw a show I liked at a theatre, I would investigate it a little bit more. And beyond that one of the things I’m obsessed with – I’m still obsessed with— is I watch people all the time. I just watch people and I talk to people and I think that there’s no greater inspiration. You learn, as an actor, just by watching people and seeing how they behave, I think that’s kind of worked for me.
CS: Now I know you’ve got some film projects coming up like Knights of Badassdom. What was it like working with Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones?
DP: Incredible. I only spent a couple of weeks with the cast, sort of a minor role, but working with Steve Zahn and Peter Dinklage was pretty incredible. At the time Game of Thrones wasn’t out yet.
DP: So I didn’t know how amazing it was. But I knew of Peter Dinklage. I mean now he’s my favorite character on Game of Thrones – the Lannisters, I mean it’s just an incredible show. That whole cast was pretty amazing, working with Steve Zahn and Ryan Kwanten. Again it’s one of those things where I love being surrounded by other actors who I’m a fan of so it’s kind of fun for me to be a fan and also be a participant in anything I do.
CS: And tell me a little bit about The Guilt Trip, the comedy written by Dan Fogleman that’s coming up.
DP: Oh yeah. That’s a fun movie. It’s with Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand. I get a minor part where I just play a friend of Seth Rogen, but I like the story. I think it was really fun. I play a chemist, and this is one of those—I call it one of my “Sanjay” roles. I’ve definitely played quite a few Sanjays.
DP: (laughs) I’m adding another Sanjay to the belt.
CS: Okay just a couple more questions for you, rapid fire.
CS: Is Allison Brie super hot in person?
DP: Yeah. Next? (laughs)
CS: (laughs) What’s it like sharing a stage with Chevy Chase?
DP: It is like being in a bizarre hard work study program (laughs). Next?
CS: (laughs). I think I’ll just end it there. I don’t want to take up too much time, but I appreciate the time, Danny.
DP: No worries, man. Thank you so much.
CS: All right take it easy.
DP: Cheers man.
So yea, Danny Pudi’s a pretty cool, down-to-Earth guy who can make you giggle on the fly. If you have an awkward moment to share with Danny, hit @SpeedStick up on Twitter with the hashtag #HandleIt before May 14.