Rashida Jones on Her New Comedy with Amy Poehler
The Office star returns to the small screen
-Cynthia Parsons McDaniel
Funny girl Rashida Jones is probably best known for her work on the hit show The Office, where she honed her comedy chops alongside the likes of Steve Carell and the rest of the hilarious Office gang. Her next TV project finds Rashida Jones back in the world of the “mockumentary” — this time teaming up with one of the reigning queens of comedy, Amy Poehler, for a new series called Parks and Recreation.
As anyone who has ever stood in line at the DMV or waited forever for a street to finish being paved knows, there’s plenty of fodder for frustration in the world of local government. Luckily for us, the geniuses behind The Office know how to turn these petty annoyances and outsize-ego personalities into pure comedy gold.
Amy Poehler as a mid-level bureaucrat with a Sarah Palin complex + Rashida Jones as a nurse on a mission (to turn an abandoned construction pit into a community park) + plenty of red tape, awkward personalities and handy cams … sounds like a recipe for hilarity to us!
Betty scored a chat with Jones, who talked about everything from working on The Office to her famous parents’ secret to success:
Betty: We have to know — what was it like to work with Steve Carell on The Office?
Rashida Jones: Steve is so talented that I would watch him in awe for the first few episodes I was on. He is so focused, and every take is wonderfully weird and hilarious. He is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.
B: You’ve said, “Nobody really cares what you do unless you’re in trouble, and then they can all watch you be in trouble. I think it’s pretty sad.” What’s the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
RJ: I’ve never been arrested, I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, I’ve never been to court. So I guess I’m pretty trouble-free for now. I’d rather sleep than get in trouble these days.
B: Tell us a funny joke.
RJ: Honestly, I don’t have one!
B: What did you learn about working in TV after doing The Office?
RJ: The Office is a very unique place to work because it truly feels like a family. The people are so warm and so grateful to be around each other. That was inspiring. Also, working with such talented improvisers really helped me to learn how to listen and stay on my toes.
B: Do you prefer film or TV? You’re in I Love You, Man, a huge commercial film currently in theaters. What are the differences?
RJ: TV is quite fast-paced. With movies, you get to take your time with a scene and feel out what works best. On the other hand, TV allows you to build a character over time in a variety of circumstances. I do like the consistency of TV; you get to have a steady job. They both have their advantages.
B: Your mother is actress Peggy Lipton, and your dad is music mogul Quincy Jones. What was it like growing up with parents in the business?
RJ: I don’t know what it’s like to NOT have parents in the business, but my parents were (and still are) very relaxed, very loving, very unconcerned with social status. So, as cool as it was to go to Michael Jackson concerts, it never felt like we lived in a parallel universe, disconnected from other people. My childhood was very warm and fun and filled with family and friends.
B: What advice have they given you?
RJ: Be kind, loving and grateful, and work hard.
B: Tell us about your new TV show with NBC — and about working with Amy Poehler!
RJ: Parks and Recreation starts April 9 and is about local government. I play a nurse whom Amy’s character becomes friends with while they try and enact a government project together.
B: The show basically takes a poke at government — what kinds of crazy subjects might we see covered each week?
RJ: You will definitely see the ridiculousness of red tape, which makes it impossible to get anything done quickly and easily. This will hopefully provide a lot of comedy.
Parks and Recreation with Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler premiers Thursday night (April 9) on NBC at 8:30/7:30 Central. Check out this sneak peek:
Photo of Rashida Jones: credit Mitch Haaseth/NBC.