‘Community’ Actor Alison Brie Used to Be a Clown

Community was a much-beloved sitcom with a pretty dark underbelly. Fans continue to discover new information about just how toxic things were on set, and it can be hard to reconcile those stories of pain and turmoil with the happy-go-lucky comedy they grew to love. After the show was rescued to air its sixth and final season in an experimental format, fans have continued to rally around it and would even love to see the cast reunite for a movie. They might even get their wish. 

If so, they’ll be able to see actor Alison Brie bring her signature comedic style back to the screen. What they might not know is that Brie pulls from her past experience as a literal clown as she brings laughs to television viewers. 

The ups and downs of ‘Community’

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When Community premiered on NBC in 2009, it seemed right in line with the formula for sitcom success the network had been using. It took a diverse ensemble cast with their own unique comedic talents and put them together in a familiar setting — in this case at a community college.

The cast included established comedian Chevy Chase, who helped lend some weight to the series. It also featured relative newcomer Donald Glover, who moved from obscure video shorts to primetime with the role. 

While fans responded positively to the hilarious shenanigans of the cast as they played out on-screen, trouble was brewing behind the scenes. In particular, Chase was singled out as being a source of toxic abuse who went on racist tirades.

Glover left the show in Season 5, which hastened its decline as NBC canceled the series. It was eventually rescued for its sixth season, but it aired in an online-only format.

Now the entire series is available on streaming services, and fans were excited to see the cast — minus Chase — reunite for a recent special that left the door open for a potential film.

Alison Brie had a breakthrough role in ‘Community’

Actress Alison Brie of 'The Disaster Artist' attends The IMDb Studio Hosted By The Visa Infinite Lounge at The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Bisha Hotel & Residences on September 10, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.
Alison Brie | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

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Brie is another actor who was a relative newcomer when she took her role in Community. She plays the youngest member of the Study Group on the show, and her character Annie Edison comes from a privileged background.

Her character is a plucky and upbeat source of studious energy, but she has overcome a lot of hardships in her past, including drug addiction and estrangement from her parents. In all, the character is complex and nuanced despite the lighthearted nature of the series.  

Prior to landing the spot of Annie, Brie had some small roles in TV series and films. Her increased visibility helped her launch into bigger things after the show, and she is now best-known for her performance on GLOW. In fact, Brie credits the performance in the wrestling-centered series with helping her overcome body image issues and other mental health struggles. 

Alison Brie had a career as a clown

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Prior to making it in the acting world, Brie had a somewhat surprising career path. She performed as a clown.

She says that she was inspired by classic comedian Steve Martin’s character in the film Parenthood — the inspiration for the much-later series of the same name. Martin had a clown routine as Cowboy Dan, and Brie found it “so funny” and looked to it for “inspiration” for her own physical comedy. 

While the star hasn’t been a clown for quite some time now that she’s busy in her acting role, she does still remember a few tricks. “I can still whip up a few balloon animals, but they all just look like dogs with long tails,” Brie admits. She even showed off her residual balloon talent on The Kelly Clarkson Show