Donald Glover’s award-winning series “Atlanta” will enter its second — err, “Robbin’ Season,” on Thursday, and we cannot wait to catch up with Earn and the gang. But while everyone and their mother is a fan of the show, there is one demographic in particular who can appreciate the FX hit unlike any other: Glover’s fellow Derrick Comedy alums.
TheWrap recently spoke with former Derrick actors Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson, their director Dan Eckman and the crew’s producer Meggie McFadden, who all worked with Glover for years as part of the internet sketch comedy group they formed at New York University in 2006.
The comedians — who also produced the 2009 flick “Mystery Team” together — don’t hang with Glover nearly as much as they used to (he’s pretty busy), but they do catch “Atlanta,” and they see their old friend — and his particular brand of humor — reflected in the dramedy.
“It’s so Donald,” McFadden, who is currently collaborating with Pierson and her husband Eckman on film and TV projects, tells TheWrap. “I don’t know. I feel like Derrick had this great combination of everybody’s sensibilities. But I don’t know. I don’t really know what to say about it other than it’s extremely Donald. And he was always interested in exploring subcultures and the way that people live in America and it’s very him. And I think he likes humor coming from darker places and I think that’s present in a lot of our sketches, albeit in an extremely heightened and maybe a little bit goofier way.”
Dierkes, currently a writer and co-executive producer on Fox’s “The Mick,” says “Atlanta” is a creation so far from what Derrick Comedy was doing — but that’s not a bad thing.
“I think that specifically with ‘Atlanta,’ when I watch it, I definitely don’t think that it’s something Derrick could have produced. That collaboration wouldn’t have produced anything like that show,” Dierkes said. “When I watch it I see a lot of things that Donald — cause Donald always was a fan of the weird and surreal, but he also, you know, liked things to be funny. Like he’s not just kind of wanting to be weird for weird’s sake. I mean, he was a dramatic writing major. He had written some plays that were of a slightly weirder bent that weren’t just sketch comedy.”
“So when I see ‘Atlanta,’ I do kind of feel like it is a fusion of the things that I’ve known him to do excellently, which is like music, hard comedy with jokes — and that’s what the show is first and foremost — but then a surreal thing I think is hard to kind of define,” Dierkes continued. “But I would say ‘Atlanta’ has a more surrealist thing going on than a lot of Derrick sketches did or than ‘Mystery Team,’ for example. But it’s a very Donald thing.”
Pierson, author of “The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To” and “Crap Kingdom,” agrees — when he watches “Atlanta,” it is all Glover.
“I think it’s obviously like, you see on display parts of what makes him so good,” Pierson said. “And I think also too, it’s cool to see it’s just been what he’s done with music, or with the show, is very, very him. So it’s tough to say that came from us. It comes from him.”
Eckman says he’s a huge fan of the series, but it’s easy to be a fan of Donald and everything he does “because he’s really, really good.” So good even, that the former Derrick Comedy director says the group used to joke about a having a “countdown until Donald was famous.”
“There was just no question. We all felt confident in our own abilities. But there was no question. He was going to be a superstar.”
“Atlanta” Season 2 — err, “Atlanta Robbin’ Season” — premieres Thursday, March 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.