When we first met Arnold in “The Camel‘, Tom Haverford accused him of making a piece of art that looked “like a lizard puking up Skittles.” Some time later, Tom actually analyzed it and found there was a lot to like about it. (So many shapes!).
Below is a Q&A I conducted with Doug Jones, who played Arnold in last week’s Parks and Recreation episode. Enjoy!
All of your screen time in “The Camel” was spent working alongside the hilarious Aziz Ansari. Explain what that was like.
It was great, Aziz is hilarious. I loved watching him on MTV’s Human Giant but he really won me over when I saw him headline a stand-up show at the Punchline in San Francisco earlier this year. It’s inspiring to me because he’s so new to acting yet he’s funnier than some comedians who have been in the business for several decades. So watching him rehearse, and try things different ways with various takes… it was all a very good learning experience for me.
Did either you or Aziz improv anything in your scenes together?
Totally, once they got what they needed as far as shooting what was in the script they let us take it wherever we wanted. That was my favorite part of the day for me because that’s when I relaxed and started having fun. At one point Aziz was serenading me with a Jamie Foxx impersonation. That being said, what you saw on the show is pretty much exactly what was written in the script, except for “It looks like a lizard puking up Skittles!” which was something Aziz came up with.
What were your experiences like on set when the cameras weren’t rolling?
The entire experience of working on a TV show like this was very new and exciting as I’ve only done commercials up until this point. Everyone behind-the-scenes seemed to care about what they were doing and the director Millicent Shelton was incredibly friendly and really put me at ease. When we wrapped at the end of the day everyone said goodbye and patted me on the back, even though it was a small role they made me feel like I was part of the team.
Who would you say you were most thrilled in meeting/working with during your time on Parks and Recreation?
Unfortunately the scenes with Aziz and I were shot at the very end of the day so by the time I got to the set everybody had pretty much gone home. I didn’t get to meet any of the other cast members except for Aubrey Plaza who was still lingering around shooting the scenes where she was digging through the dumpster putting her “Multimedia piece” together. Aubrey was really nice and so was everyone else I got a chance to meet.
I see you do work for Upright Citizens Brigade. How did you get involved with the sketch comedy group, and what do you do for it?
About five years ago I read an interview with Will Arnett and he talked about going to see Amy Poehler perform ASSSSCAT at UCB New York. I didn’t know exactly what ASSSSCAT was, but I bought tickets to see them perform at an improv festival in L.A out of curiosity and my life was forever changed. When the UCB theatre opened in Hollywood in summer of 2005 I decided to give it a shot and signed up for one of the first rounds of classes. It has been said by many others but it’s worth repeating, anybody who is interested in acting or comedy must take improv classes and learn how to write their own material and the best place to do that is Upright Citizens Brigade.
Do you have any upcoming projects we should be aware of?
Last week I worked on a short film called “The Big Dog” directed by Eric Appel. It’s being produced by Funny Or Die (the comedy video Web site founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay) and it’s going to be 20 minutes long so it’s one of the biggest project they’ve done to date. My part is very small but I got to work with Bob Odenkirk, one of my comedy heroes, so I can’t complain!
Thanks, Doug! To keep tabs on Doug, feel free to follow him on Twitter @hey_doug.