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Rashida Jones on How Angie Tribeca Is Bringing Back the Silly-Serious Comedy

Rashida Jones is okay with getting a little animal feces on her hand in the pursuit of comedy. Unfortunately, viewers won’t catch that deleted scene when her ludicrous TBS comedy Angie Tribeca premieres its entire first season in a 25-hour commercial-free marathon Sunday night. But audiences are in for a crazy ride regardless. Co-created by Steve and Nancy Carell, Angie Tribeca centers on a tough LAPD detective who keeps a poker face while saying and doing ridiculous things, Naked Gun–style. Jones took time out of filming the seventh episode of the second season, which will air later this year, to chat with Vulture about how Angie differs from sweet Ann Perkins, what her real-life parents (Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton) will do on the show, and why she can’t stop living in the ’90s.

Angie Tribeca as a role is more technical than others you’ve played. How does Angie compare to Ann in terms of how you perform the comedy?
On Parks, we had a lot of freedom in terms of blocking and the way the camera operated with the actors in the room. We were very loose. Even though we might have seven people in a scene, we had very loose marks on the floor, and we’d just do the scene and see if it was working, and maybe improv a little bit at the end when we got the scene down. In this, the jokes are in the script. They’re very obvious and they’re very funny, and the way to make them funny off the page is to execute them properly. So, for instance, there was a joke that was cut because there are just too many jokes in the show: I was having a conversation with [guest star] Adam Scott. He is a doctor and I say, “While I have you, Doctor, will you take a look at this mole for me?” And I have an animal trainer between my legs handing me a mole — like an animal — and the mole is pooping in my hand. And I have to make sure to hold him properly so the mole is facing Adam so you can tell it’s a mole and not a rat or a ferret and hold a straight face and have Adam say, “You know what, that mole looks suspicious, you should have him checked out.” And then I say, “Thank you” and I hand the mole back to the animal trainer with the poop in my hand and continue the scene.

There was actual poop in your hand?
Yes, there was poop in my hand. Okay? Anything for comedy.

Do you go through many takes because it’s difficult to keep a straight face?
Sometimes you do go too far, and you realize how ridiculous the circumstances are, and you can end up in a fit of giggles. You have to work really hard to make it about Angie Tribeca — she’s on the case and she’s trying to solve it, and it’s the most important thing.

Why did you want to work on this show?
Steve and Nancy sent me the script, and it was honestly just so damn funny that I didn’t feel like I had an option. I was thinking about taking some time off to just focus on writing. And I read it and my first thought was, Oh no! Way too funny! I can’t not do the show. It’s a good problem to have. I hadn’t seen this kind of comedy for a long time, and I absolutely adore the Zucker Brother movies — Airplane!, Naked Gun. Airplane! is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think it’s the most perfectly executed movie. That’s my favorite [type of] comedy: a combination of very silly and serious. And I have always wanted to try to do that, so here’s my chance.

Were you going to take a break from acting because you weren’t getting the roles you were interested in?
I had written a movie and starred in it (Celeste and Jess Forever) and was really proud of it. As far as an acting challenge, that was a big thing for me: to be able to write something that I felt really connected to. Life is long, and hopefully there will be many pathways to creativity for me. And acting is one of them, and it’s something that I’m still very passionate about. It’s just that it’s a grind. To try for that to be your primary career, especially for women, it’s a bit of a grind. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing parts for women or for myself and pursuing that, but I just didn’t want to look at my future as this narrow path that’s just about acting.

Do you watch cop dramas?
I do. I love cop dramas. I’m particularly fascinated by the women on procedurals who manage to tell the stories in a way where they can be tough but also sympathetic, and it’s a little personal, but they manage to make it about the case and not themselves. I have a lot of respect for Mariska Hargitay and Stana Katic, especially doing it now, in a comedic way. I have a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it.

On The Office, there was an ongoing joke with Karen about where she came from, and on Parks, Ann’s ethnicity was never addressed. How do you feel about playing racially ambiguous characters?
My parents are actually going to be on the show. My mom is Jewish and white, and Dad is African-American, so it’s going to be addressed. It’s a stand-alone thing in the second season. We are just trying to find the best episode for it.

Your “Flip and Rewind” video was so much fun.
Oh my God, my dream come true. The other day I was walking down the street, and a girl leaned out of her car and yelled, “I love your ’90s video!’” And I thought, That’s it, that was exactly why I did it — so that people could feel like they could spontaneously scream at me on the street. So awesome.

Why did you really do it?
My nephew [Sunny Levine] has this great album that he made, and we collaborated together. We wrote a song together, and when it came time to make a video, I have a really unhealthy obsession with the ’90s. It’s a real thing.  I have a pajama jammy-jam party every year for my birthday. I would say  the majority of music I listen to is hip-hop and R&B from the ’90s. I have a problem! I thought it was time to share that problem with the rest of the world. I’ve just wanted to pay homage to the ’90s for such a long time, and all the videos that inspired me, you know, the music that underscored my life. So I called all my friends, and it turned out I’m not the only person obsessed with the ’90s. The girls in the video are all my friends from high school. We were on the dance squad together.

Some people were taken aback that you can sing. Is that a path you’d like to pursue further?
I have a lot of respect for the art of music. My dad is not only a wonderful, talented producer and composer and arranger and orchestrator, he knows what he’s doing. He’s a master. And I feel like at some point, I would love to try to master music and music theory, but now it’s really for fun. It’s great to be able to do it with my family, because we have a very similar shared language of our inspirations and our goals and all that. Maybe, we’ll see.

What’s your favorite moment or stunt from the first season of Angie?
Oh my God, that’s hard. It is wall-to-wall jokes!  There’s one joke in ‘The Wedding Planner Did It” where I’m trying to arrest this wedding planner who is responsible for a drug ring and she says, “I wanna see your badge.” I say something about wearing undergarments. And my co-worker says, “She said badge.” It’s a stupid joke! But for some reason, it made me really happy.

Rashida Jones on Angie’s Silly-Serious Comedy