Newly Released Recorded Phone Call Gets to the Root of the Dan Harmon/Chevy Chase Feud
I don’t know who released this recorded phone conversation — which is over a year old, now — but I’m guessing it was someone in the Dan Harmon camp because Harmon, like a lot of creative geniuses, is a petulant child who wants to be loved by everyone. In the conversation — exclusive to Celebuzz — Chevy Chase calls “Community” a “fucking mediocre sitcom.”
But the seed of the friction, I suspect, is rooted in generational differences. Chevy Chase believes his brand of comedy — pratfalls and goofy reaction shots — is still relevant, and he doesn’t like it to be layered with all that absurdity and sophisticated pop-culture allusions. It can all be boiled down to this statement, upon which both Harmon and Chase agree:
“The other part of the disconnect is obviously, you don’t get my humor at all, or what it is I do that’s funny, that actually makes people laugh,” says Chase.
In the recording, Harmon concedes this point. He doesn’t get Chase’s humor, and it doesn’t appear that Chase enjoys being made the fool on the show. He wants to be more central to the sitcom.
“There are two choices. One is the story line — like everybody gives a s—t about the f—-king story when they don’t even know who the characters are — or there’s make people laugh.”
“It’s cut down. For what? So people can follow the story line between Joel [McHale] and Gillian [Jacobs]? About love affairs and kissing? Come on man, you’re missing the point,” he says. “This is not my kind of comedy. I thought you hired me for what I can do that’s funny. You’ve got to give me some range.”
The complaints continued, with nary a word from Harmon.
“I should have had this talk with you face to face, but I didn’t want to because I really like you. I think your writing is great. I think everything you do is great,” Chase offers. “But the problem really is Dan that you’re not there when we shoot, and you’re not there when we edit… And if you want me on this show again, I have news for you: I don’t want it. It’s just a mediocre f—-king sitcom. I want people to laugh, and this isn’t funny. And it ain’t funny to me, because I’m 67-years old and I’ve been making people laugh a long time, and I’ve been doing it a lot better than this.”
On the one hand, Chase is absolutely correct. His Gerald Ford fall-down shtick is broad enough to appeal to the mainstream that he clearly wants to win over, but on the other hand, Harmon doesn’t give a shit about the mainstream. My guess is that Chase is edited down to look as unflattering a fool as possible, because self-referentially, that’s funny to us. Chase is being used to highlight archaic stereotypes, and to be made a fool for buying into them. I think Harmon believes about Pierce Hawthorne the same things he believes about Chevy Chase — that he’s an awful human being — and I suspect that’s why, especially in its second season, Chase was written as such a horrible, unpleasant, unredeemable character. At times (particularly the “Dungeons and Dragons” episode) it bordered on uncomfortably mean-spirited.
Chase probably detects this, and likewise doesn’t understand the humor in “Community” any more than Jessica Walters understands the comedy of “Archer.” At least in her case, she’s willing to trust that Adam Reeds knows what he’s doing. Chase, however, is rebelling against the new school of comedy, fighting to keep Griswold alive.
On the other hand, why do people in Hollywood always record their phone calls?