Yvette Nicole Brown has gone to the dogs. You may know the actress best from her role as Shirley Bennett on NBC’s Community; but she’s also been providing her voice for the past few years to the Hub’s hit show Pound Puppies. And now, her character Cookie has hit the big time, as the celebrity spokesdog for Hub’s new Pup-ularity contest. We hopped on the phone to find out more about the event, whether there’s a Pound Puppies equivalent to Bronies, and what the chances are for a Community/Pound Puppies crossover:
“Every Summer Hub does the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ celebrating dog themed entertainment,” said Brown over the phone. “This year they’re searching for America’s happiest dog.” Running now through the 8th of August, you can submit your dog picture online, and through a public vote, the most pup-ular dog will be announced on-air by Cookie on August 25th. The winning dog (and their owner) get a trip to Hollywood, a cash prize, and Hub will donate $5,000 to the Petfinder Foundation, to help needy dogs. “That, more than anything, was what made me excited to be a part of it,” continued Brown.
Though Brown was quick to clarify that anyone can vote for the contest, she did have some tips for entrants. “I want to see pictures of dogs... Not necessarily pictures of dogs with their owners,” said Brown. “Sometimes you get the owners saying, it’s my time to shine! Um, no it’s not. It’s Fido’s time to shine!” She added that she’s of course looking for a dog that has a “happy life, living the Life of Riley!”
Brown also has a vested interest in the contest, as she’s moved into a new house with her mother, and can finally get a pet herself. She plans on getting a new puppy in the Fall, but is afraid to start scoping out the contest too much for prospects. “I want to have the doggie door in, I want a run set up, I want to get a great dog house,” said Brown, adding that if she starts looking at pictures, she’ll, “be smuggling him onto the Community set, and that’s not what I want for him.”
Moving on to talk about Pound Puppies, Brown noted that she’s gotten used to seeing her voice coming out of a dogs mouth, but, “The first time, it was like... That’s pretty cool! The way they take what I said and animate her facial features is hilarious to me,” said Brown with a laugh. She also has nothing but praise for the cast who, rare for animation, mostly record together. Particularly John Dimaggio and Alanna Ubach, saying, “It’s really like a master class whenever I get to work with them... I’ve learned a lot, but I haven’t learned to put it into practice!”
“John Dimaggio is a machine! They literally plug in statistics, and he opens his mouth, and that person comes out,” continued Brown. “He and Alanna can do it like in a split second. They can go, okay Alanna, you’re a little boy now and you have a snotty nose, and she doesn’t think about. It goes in the computer, and comes out their mouth.”
Next, we had to ask - and Internet, feel free to chime in on this - whether there was a name for Pound Puppy fans, like its time slot buddy My Little Pony has Bronies. Brown asked around, felt they should get one, and suggested Pupsters, while we thought Poundies might work. Following up on that, we asked whether Bronies and the newly named Pupsters team up, or end up fighting on the street, but Brown said, “I don’t know if that happens, but the visual image you just gave me is awesome. I just love the idea of My Little Pony fans, and Pound Puppies fans having this weird problem with each other.”
Nailing an amazing segue, we then asked Brown what breeds of puppies the cast of Community would be, if they were dogs. After laughing, Brown said she’s more into mutts, but added that Shirley would probably be a mix of Rottweiler and Pit Bull; Britta would be like Streudel on Pound Puppies; and then drew a blank because she couldn’t think of any more breeds. She then challenged us to come up with breeds, WE drew a blank, and both started laughing.
Moving on full fledged talking about Community, we asked what it was like to be on the panel at Comic-Con, particularly with the pressure from fans to deliver the good news that Community was going to be okay. “I was just really concerned that they would give David and Moses a chance to explain where they’re coming from,” said Brown. “I understand if they were a little upset, or reticent to jump in on the new regime. But I also know that David and Moses are doing their best to keep the show exactly the same. There was no evil mustache coming in, like, arrghh, I’m going to kill this show! These guys are really earnest, and dedicated to creating the same Community they adore.”
“Our fans are so kind, and so wonderful, I knew they would give them a chance... And they did,” continued Brown. “My biggest cause this Summer is to let as many people as I can know what Dan Harmon wanted me to let people know: that he’s okay. Dan collects no moss. He’s not just going to sit there and wallow in anything. He immediately got up, created new shows, and last I heard, he has three projects at major studios. He’s doing great. He misses everybody, and we miss him... But the show does go on.”
Talking about upcoming episodes, we asked whether there would be more of the Shirley/Jeff pairing that bloomed last season. Brown noted that it wouldn’t crop up in the first three or four episodes, mainly because according to the writers, “There’s some bigger fish to fry in moving the pieces around at this campus where there’s going to be some graduations. We don’t know who’s graduating, we don’t know if it’s people from the study group. Maybe it’s Leonard? Nobody knows.”
That said, Brown has her fingers crossed that there will be more of the Shirley and Jeff dynamic coming up. “I really like working with Joel [McHale],” said Brown. “I really like working with everyone, but when you work with someone one on one you always walk away with a little bit more love and appreciation for what they do with their character. I hadn’t worked with Joel individually since the first season, so it was nice to see how he’s grown as Jeff, and how these characters work with each other.”
Wrapping up, we asked about the (we’re sure very strong) possibility of a Pound Puppies/Community crossover. “If we did a full on Community cartoon episode,” Brown answered with a laugh, “I could see the Pound Puppies popping in to a caper at Greendale. That would be really funny.”
You can submit your dog for the Hub’s Pup-ularity Contest right now: https://hub.promotions.com/pupularity/dob.do