What do so-so Nielsen ratings matter when you know in your heart that you're making a comedy classic? That's basically how Donald Glover of NBC's Community feels. "It's like if you make a great cake," says Glover, who plays Troy, the jock member of an offbeat community-college study group. "You make a delicious, delicious cake and it's awesome and the crust is perfect. I know cakes shouldn't have crust, but this is a special cake, a special cake with crust, and it's delicious. But only two people eat it. But they love it. Well, that's enough for me." Not that Glover would mind it if more viewers grabbed forks and took a few bites. "It'd be nice because I feel like they'd enjoy it," he says. But better ratings, he says, would merely be the icing on top of a cake metaphor that's been stretched to the max. This week's Community, a Halloween-themed zombies-on-campus episode, airs at a special time: 7:30 p.m. CT Thursday, Oct. 28, on NBC.
How does Community compare to your real-life college experience?
"I was not around as many hot chicks. That's for sure. I stayed indoors a lot. I was really into making music on my computer. My friends and I used to see comedy shows and chill out. So I guess there wasn't as much adventure, unless eating Ramen noodles and watching Chappelle's Show on DVD is an adventure."
What do you most enjoy about your character?
"The thing I like about the character the most is that he's a jock, but he's very sensitive. It's been shown again and again that he cries at the drop of a hat. I like the fact that we're showing somebody who's supposed to be extremely masculine but has a very sensitive side. Because I'm not very good at being extremely butch. Me, personally, I'm pretty sensitive too."
So the secret Troy, the sensitive Troy, is like the real you?
"It's funny. He's becoming a lot like me in the sense that he's fronting about his masculine, football player, jock image. He's not that guy at all, really, but he felt like he had to do that. I felt like that in high school. I was just pretending to be the dude, so I wouldn't get picked on."
What do you think awaits Troy after Greendale Community College?
"Honestly, I think it'd be awesome to see him become like a kindergarten teacher, because I feel that he's like a little kid, so he'd have a lot in common with his students. That's my spinoff idea if you want to invest."
In regards to the zombie episode, are you more partial to classic movie zombies that are slow-moving or do you prefer the newer, faster-moving ones?
"They both have good points. There's something scary about something slowly moving toward you with force that's like, 'Oh, I can't stop that thing.' It's going slowly and it makes you panic more, which I get. But the fast-moving, crazy zombie the 28 Days Later/I Am Legend zombie speaks more to me because I'm terrified of things that are uncontrollable. And I feel like I can control the Romero-style zombies."
In the event of a real-life zombie attack, who do you think would be the first to die among your cast?
"Who would be first to go? Chevy Chase. He's a little older, so he's a little slower. And Gillian Jacobs because I don't think she's a good runner and she's always in heels on the show. I would stick around. I'd be the first to be like, 'We shouldn't go in there, guys.' I'd be like, 'This feels wrong.' Also, I have no problems with using other people as bait or tripping other people. I get dirty when my life is in danger."
In the Season 1 finale, did you really eat all of that giant cookie?
"Oh, God, no. I bit into it. I literally took a big bite and I was like, 'Oh, this cookie's delicious.' The prop woman was like, 'You're going to hate it by the end. Don't swallow those bites.' And I'm like, 'I'm fine.' And I took three more bites and I wanted to vomit. Like, 'There's so much cookie! It's just too much cookie for one man!' The metaphor was absolutely true: It's just too much cookie, too much of a good thing."
Who's the funniest person on the set when the camera isn't rolling?
"It'd be a tie between Joel McHale and Alison Brie. Joel's so quick, like he is on The Soup and the way he is on the show. But Alison's so funny. Alison does an impression of me that really makes me laugh. Somebody as handsome as Joel and as gorgeous as Alison and they're also very funny? I'm jealous."
How cool is it to be working alongside a comedy icon like Chevy Chase?
"Working with Chevy Chase is like working with your funny, wisecracking grandpa. A perfect example: We were saying that all the scripts are sent to us by e-mail. 'Why didn't you read it?' And he was like, 'I can't read it. My e-mail's in New York.' That's a true story. He said that. And it was funny for so many reasons. So, yes, it's amazing. It's Chevy Chase, the comedy idol guy. But when you get to know him, he's like, 'Oh, it's just like having a family member around.' It's pretty cool."