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'Community' star Danny Pudi talks multicultural heritage at UIC

Giving out high fives, Chicago native and television star Danny Pudi received a deafening applause from fans at University of Illinois Chicago April 11 as he ran down aisle after aisle so attendees could smack his backside.

Pudi showed students on UIC's campus that his quirky, Indian character Abed from NBC's hit show, "Community," isn't so different in reality.

In honor of Asian American Awareness Month at UIC, Pudi discussed his unique bloodline as a bi-racial Polish and Indian child, as well as his life growing up in Chicago.

He screened his own presentation titled "Mixed-Up," where he took audience members down memory lane, to every odd intersection of his life where his parents "fell in love at the YMCA and had interracial babies," and when he attempted to be the scrawniest football player ever to step on the field. He even talked about when he used to write polish raps about ice cream.

"My mother named me Daniel after a Polish Christian album I was conceived to and Pudi is an Indian name given from my father and I think it translates to drum, but if you look it up on urban dictionary it also means 'female genitalia," he said. "These are just facts."

As a practitioner of statistics, Pudi further showed how rare his ethnic background is by the following analogy: the Chicago Cubs are 1,200 times more likely to win the World Series this year than the chances of a Polish-Indian child being born. And that's quite a task in itself.

"I'm pleased with my interracial plight," he added. "It has influenced all my character identities and character work that has made me successful."

UIC student Kim Diego could relate to Pudi's multicultural heritage.

"It can be weird with multiple ethnicities," Diego said. "I'm half Puerto-Rican, half Chinese, so its refreshing to hear someone else discuss their unique cultural background."

As a Chicago born, Second City and Marquette graduate, Pudi is better known for his role as the imaginative Abed on "Community." A fan-favorite, the show chronicles the goofy and absurd interactions between students and faculty at a community college in Colorado.

For the "Community" fans at the event, Pudi said, "You will see a lot more of 'Evil Abed' coming up soon." He also discussed how the change of character for him was a terrifying, yet thrilling experience for him.

"On set, I don't always know how it's going to pan out," he said. "That's really exciting too, unlike most comedy shows right now, it's really refreshing to be on show [where] we don't know what's going to happen week-to-week, even as actors."

When fans of "Community" were in uproar a few months ago as a result of NBC pulling the show from its 2011-12 mid-season schedule, Pudi said he was in shock by the support.

"The fan base is amazing, it's really interesting to see what crazy videos fans come up with," he said. "Somebody recently told me, that there is a "Community" porn in the making."

Joseph Delisi is a RedEye special contributor

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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