Community's Five Best "Tricks" From Season 2

A common misconception about watching television is that it's a passive, brain-mushing endeavor: You settle your butt into the same cushion indentation you've been carving out for years, crack open a Budweiser and some spicy Cheetos, and do your best impression of a coma victim.

That may be true for certain types of TV, but just try to remain mentally inactive while marathoning The Wire or Breaking Bad. And while watching a comedy might seem like a more acquiescent task, that's not always the case. It's easy to sponge up all the sexual innuendo of Two and a Half Men without a single synapse firing in your comedy cortex, but there's one sitcom out there that offers a fantastic workout for whatever part of your brain controls focus and attention and still manages to be the funniest show on TV.

NBC's Community features sight gags, one-liners, and zingers galore, but it's made its mark by also including Easter Eggs, twists, and inside jokes for viewers willing to really pay attention. Here are five examples of Community's knack for earning comedic extra credit.


My Dinner With Abed

Community is probably most well known for providing the internet with amazing animated GIFs of Annie bouncing about, but it's also well-known for writing love letters to pop culture in the form of homages and spoofs. Film geeks everywhere wet themselves when news broke that the show would skewer dorm fave Pulp Fiction in "Critical Film Studies," but the joke was on them. Though 87 percent of the cast members were dressed as characters from the Tarantino flick, the episode became a parody of another film, one that sits at the exact opposite end of the spectrum: the 110-minute dinner conversation that is My Dinner With Andre. I remember seeing Abed in that sweater and thinking to myself, "This looks a lot like My Dinner With Andre," and then experiencing the slow, brain-exploding realization that Community was spoofing My Dinner With Andre instead of Pulp Fiction as the episode progressed. It takes huge cajones to write an essential joke that relies on a movie that's only popular among people who wear patches on the elbows of their blazers. Pure brilliance.


To Cougar Town and Back

Community's love of doing things differently is so great that it's started spreading to other shows. In the aforementioned "Critical Film Studies," Abed talks about his transformative experience as an extra on the set of ABC's Cougar Town, a sitcom he mentions with a fair degree of frequency. A few months after the My Dinner With Andre episode aired, Danny Pudi appeared as an extra in an actual episode of Cougar Town. Community then returned the favor by including Cougar Town's Dan Byrd and Busy Phillips in Community's finale. Synergy!


Season 2's Two-Part Finale Psych-Out

This one's a bit of a stretch, but it fooled me. Paintball returned to Greendale in what was promoted as a two-part finale for the ages. Though "A Fistful of Paintballs" and "For a Few Paintballs More" shared a lot of—you guessed it—paintballs, they were way different stylistically. "Fistful" was an elaborate ode to Spaghetti Westerns, and what might have been the show-that's-known-for-its-homages' greatest homage of all. The second half of the two-parter was very much in line with Community's normal tone (or as "normal" as its tone can be called). And it was a good thing, too. Keeping the Western flavor for an hour might have been a bit much, and the second half proved more rewarding than the first. This example may not shine like the others on this list, but for those of us who expected an hour's worth of Clint Eastwood allusions, it was a shock.


Annie's Boobs Steals the Pen

In Season 2's famous bottle episode "Cooperative Calligraphy," the gang locks itself in the study room with the intention to stay until Annie's missing pen is found—then, and only then, will they be able to attend the Puppy Parade. Friends become enemies as everyone accuses each other of stealing the pen or setting up the whole thing to serve their own evil interests (anti-puppy agenda?). In the end, the audience learns that the real culprit is Troy's escaped monkey, Annie's Boobs, who lives in the ventilation ducts and collects trinkets when no one is looking. But sharp-eyed viewers saw a tiny monkey arm grab the pen early in the episode. That's attention to detail, folks, both by the producers of the show and its loyal viewers. I didn't notice it the first or second time around, but that's what the internet is for.


Abed Delivers a Baby

One of Community's finest moments, and the series' first major Easter Egg. In "The Psychology of Letting Go," fan-favorite Abed is barely featured... in the foreground. Instead, he spends several scenes out of earshot and in the background, counseling a pregnant woman and her baby daddy. Ultimately, he delivers the baby in the back of an SUV. The icing on the cake comes at the end of the episode, when Shirley asks Abed, "I barely saw you this week Abed, what have you been up to?" and Abed responds, "Not much." I thought that was hilarious before I even realized what had really been going on.


Which Community "trick" is your favorite? What did I miss?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Jul 22, 2013
I'll wrinkle you're brain a bit more on the Abed scene.

Reason the woman grabbed him and the guy was upset, is that 10 months ago...Abed stated over the PA system NOT to use condoms...and they are in the background when Chevy borrows $200 from Jeff
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Jan 16, 2014
"If you're going to have sex tonight, do not use the condoms." ::throws condom away:: Man I love this show
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Sep 23, 2011
I'm not sure how, but I did notice the small hand taking the pen in my first viewing of the episode, although it took me a while to realize it was Annie's Boobs. It was actually Abed's background plot about delivering a baby that took me a second viewing to notice.



Ahh, good memories. Or as Britta would say: "Feast your ear-tongues on these memory pops!"
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Sep 23, 2011
Just finished my Community marathon yesterday in time for the start of season three. I noticed Abed delivering the baby but I never saw Annie's Boobs steal the pen. I did notice a lot of references to the Breakfast Club, including the episode where Jeff has to get drunk to drunk-message Britta, when the Pizza Guy turned up and they were dancing on the table. Also, I did notice Annie bouncing about, although I was actively looking for that :)
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Sep 23, 2011
I loved the Abed trick with delivering a baby, but mostly because this is one I actually caught the first time I watched the episode
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Sep 23, 2011
Sorry, what was this article about. I noticed the link for "amazing animated GIFs of Annie bouncing about", and got a little distracted.

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Sep 23, 2011
Community is too funny, clever, amazing to be put into words. Its a show that doesn't treat viewers like dummies and rewards us every week with a fantastic show. I laughed so hard at each one of these
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Sep 23, 2011
Hear, hear. That's exaclty why I love the show too. It makes clever jokes which you need to understand the references to, and it doesn't underestimate the viewers' intelligence.
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Sep 23, 2011
One of the best shows on tv.
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Sep 23, 2011
i have never seen it but i will be looking for it now. don't know how i missed it...not a sit com person these days but this sounds like it is a notch or two above the rest.
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Sep 23, 2011
You will not be sorry but you should try to watch the first 2 seasons it is totally worth it!
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Sep 23, 2011
what about Epidemiology? i really loved that one " of course, jeff is a cool zombie" lol
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Sep 23, 2011
Haha, this show is my favorite show on TV right now. Love the easter eggs and pop culture references I understand (growing up in the 90's and all). Never noticed the monkey stealing the pen int he beginning of that episode though! One of my favorites from that season. Especially when they discover Abed mapping their PMS cycles in his notebook, so funny, haha.
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Sep 23, 2011
Another favorite was when Abed was "Rowboat Cop." His internal screen had teasers from upcoming episodes such as Troy's birthday.
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Sep 23, 2011
The whole Paradigms of Human Memory. Making a recap episode with "memories" that were not in the original episodes and making new ones about episodes that never happened was incredibly funny.
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Sep 23, 2011
I really enjoyed the "Abed Delivers a Baby" story line, and how Community and Cougar Town mixed into each other.
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Staff
Sep 23, 2011
I really need to go back and watch this show from the beginning. Loved the paintball episodes.
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Sep 23, 2011
Wow I love this show and never found any of the easter eggs lol.
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