Fox cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine could do for Andy Samberg what Parks and Recreation did for Amy Poehler: prove that the former Saturday Night Live star can hold TV viewers’ attention for more than three minutes at a time. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, from Parks executive producers Michael Schur and Dan Goor, casts Samberg as a goofy but skilled detective who will have some growing up to do under his new boss (played by Andre Braugher).
You portrayed a lovable underachiever in last year’s Celeste and Jesse Forever (co-starring and co-written by Rashida Jones). It was pretty low-key, relative to your previous work. Did you see Brooklyn as another opportunity to stretch?
Yeah, and it’s definitely a challenge for me, because I have less experience with it. But if you can pull off those dramatic moments, it makes everything else funnier. Mike Schur told me that one of the reasons he thought of me for this show was because he watched Celeste and Jesse and he felt that I pulled off some emotional scenes there well. I told Rashida, “Hey, thanks! Thanks for the hookup.”
What have you learned about cops so far?
One thing I’ve learned is that with a lot of cops, having a normal life or any kind of home or social life is really challenging. You’ll see my character, Jake, deal with that. It’s stuff The Wire touched on a lot. Those great scenes with McNulty and Kima where they’re commiserating about how hard it is to keep a relationship going. Hopefully we’ll be doing that on Brooklyn, in a funnier way.
In the first episode, you try to show up the new captain (Braugher) by wearing a Speedo to work.
I’ve worn far less on SNL, and that’s in front of a studio audience.
So doing it for Andre—no big deal.
Everyone keeps saying they find Andre intimidating, but I don’t find him the least bit intimidating. Probably because he is extremely nice to me.
It took you a couple of days after you got the offer for the show to sign on. Did you have reservations?
Well, I hadn’t seen a script. And I just did seven years on SNL. There was no doubt in my mind I wanted to work with Mike and Dan and that I liked the premise of the show, but if it works, it will be years of my life. I needed to talk to my lady [fiancée Joanna Newsom]. I also have another love story in my life, which is with [Lonely Island’s] Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, and I needed to talk to them. Our goal and hope is to still be working together for our whole lives.
What did they say?
Well, they gave me shit. We all give each other shit any time one of us takes a job and the other two aren’t involved. Just the nature of being three best friends.
So when Jorma got a role on Girls …
Oh yeah. Are you kidding? Showing his ass and everything? He hasn’t heard the end of it. I’d love for him to do something on Brooklyn, actually. He grew up in theater, so he wouldn’t be shy about Speedos. Or showing his butt and maybe even the shadow of his balls on Girls.
I didn’t look that closely.
Oh, I did! Best believe I frame-by-framed that. I really didn’t. I wanted it to end as soon as it started.
Fox. Tuesdays. 8:30 p.m. Premieres September 17.