He’s Your Polish Dancer, Your Brown Actor for Hire

d.pudi.jpg“Most of the roles you get are not Polish…You don’t seem like a typical Pole,” Jimmy Kimmel joked while interviewing comic actor Danny Pudi on his late night show. The lanky Chicagoan and Polish-Indian American Pudi was sitting in a chair autographed by Rod Blagojevich.

And indeed, his role on the new TV series “Community,” is not Polish either. He plays Abed, a half-Palestinian character.

Pudi, whose mother immigrated from Poland and his father from India, acknowledged that portraying Polish characters was not his “wheelhouse.” Playing South Asian characters is.

“I played three Sanjays…Haven’t played any Polish characters yet.”

You can watch his Kimmel interview after the jump.

“Community” is about a motley group of students taking Spanish at a community college. They are played by an ensemble cast that includes comedy legend Chevy Chase as Pierce, an elderly, wealthy and dilletante classmate of Pudi’s character Abed. Abed is usually quirkily and rapidly reciting various facts including quotes from 80s movies. This leads one of his classmates, a lawyer whose degree has been revoked played by Joel McHale, to unofficially diagnose him with Asperger’s.

danny.pudi.jpgBefore peppering his remarks on Kimmel with Polish words Pudi talked about his childhood. It included ethnic dancing classes (group photo at right, I was surprised that Kimmel didn’t have him demo a move or two) and being raised by his Polish grandparents.

He also name-checked Kal Penn (“best actor of all time”) in his opening Kanye joke.

Asperger’s or not, I thought Abed’s socially awkward but funny portrayal was one of the highlights of “Community’s” pilot episode. I would tune in again to see more of Pudi on TV if this new series makes it past the fall TV premieres season.

The Washington Post seems to agree. It called Pudi the lone “standout” of the ragtag Spanish study group that makes up the cast of characters on “Community.” And it also reminds me of where I’ve seen Pudi before.

He’s the butt-dialer called out by his girlfriend in those cell phone ads:

The “Community” pilot episode is on Hulu:

Related: Along with stand-ups Rasika Mathur and Ranjit Souri, Pudi was part of the comedic group Siblings of Doctors.

Pudi at Ultrabrown and visiting the TV Guide offices.

He was also in a McDonalds TV ad. (Thanks, Himanshu.)

16 thoughts on “He’s Your Polish Dancer, Your Brown Actor for Hire

  1. He was hilarious on Community – my gf and I both laughed out hard during the scene where everyone is mouthing to Joe McHale silently and he freaks out watching each of their faces and thinks he can’t hear them or they him.

  2. Nice! I’d been wanting to see Community and missed it before. Glad I can catch up and watch Pudi. Nice on this post-Emmy morning to be reminded that there ARE a few actors of color on television, although the Academy and CBS highlighted precious few of them…

  3. Very funny episode!

    Obviously a very cliched portrayal of lawyers….but then again, I do know lawyers (and other people) who are just like that in real life!

  4. Siblings of Doctors.

    What a great name. Ever since my little brother got accepted to med school, I’ve been feeling inadequate :)

  5. oh the possibilities for heritage humor if his father is sikh : polish jokes and sardar ji jokes. double the fun. btw, were his last name, “pudi” mispronounced [fudi] just so slightly then, “Pudi at Ultrabrown and visiting the TV Guide offices.” would sound like an ad for a desi porn site.

  6. Pudi…. where from are the Pudi’s?

    I like how he shows off his cute skinny indian boy legs with skinny jeans. More guys should get the courage. [embrace skinny jeans].. wear shorts, go wild, I say!

  7. I like how he shows off his cute skinny indian boy legs with skinny jeans. More guys should get the courage. [embrace skinny jeans]…go wild, I say!

    Down with skinny jeans! Embrace the stovepipes, men.

  8. i haven’t been able to get tina turner out of my mind for 2 days now, thakyouverymuch Pavani

    What’s P’vani got to do? got to do with it?

  9. Umm…… is it me or is the funniest part of this whole thing is that his last name is PUDI. kinda sounds like the punjabi word for you know…

  10. Stovepipes are fine too… I just hate those generic man jeans that are like giant baggy sacks hanging off with a giant oversized t-shirt over it.