NBC’s breakout hit Superstore centers around the staff of Cloud 9, a motley crew of big box store employees (think Best Buy + Walmart), and the weekly shenanigans that endear them to us in a way that only retail staff can.
With season 2 premiering this week BSO sat down with Colton Dunn, who portrays Garrett the snarky and satirical customer service guy, to chime in on the runaway success of Superstore, what we can expect in season two and why he likes going into Best Buy to commiserate with other big box store workers.
BSO: Joining the cast of Superstore puts you in front of the camera but you previously did your turn behind the camera on Key & Peele. Which job is easier for you?
CD: Well they’re both awesome. I like doing both; writing and performing; something I’ve always kind of done in comedy. Good comedians tend to write as well but as job-wise, people are nicer to actors. Writers have to go get their own coffee so I’d have to say acting is my preference between the two.
BSO: Your character Garrett is the customer service guy but he could use a little ‘additional training’ so to speak. Can we send Garrett to customer service training this season?
CD: [Laugh] You’ve got to want to improve. Garrett is really not into customers and not into service so he’s definitely perfect for customer service. This season we’ll see a lot more of Garrett’s dating life which is kinda fun. We alluded to it a little bit in the first season. He’s a little bit of a ladies man so we’ll see some of that this season.
BSO: I’m glad you said that, I was just going to ask for the secret scoop on the season. What are a few things you can tease before the starts?
CD: All of the characters are going to stick to what we enjoyed in the first season but explore them a little more. We’re probably going to get a little more tension between Jonah and Amy, we’re also going to see how Cheyenne develops into a teen mom. One of more interesting things is I’m going to be dating but there’s also a love interest involved with Mateo, Nico Santos’ character. That’s going to be a pretty funny storyline.
BSO: With the big ensemble cast is there a lot of improv that happens to make those funny moments really pop? What’s a typical taping like?
CD: We do some improve on the set but we stick to script since we have different directors come in that have a different style. That’s usually the way it works. We tend to follow the script for one or two takes then they let us loose and let us do whatever we want. A typical episode takes about a week but depending on how much we improv we can get out of there at 6pm or 7pm.
BSO: Since you guys portray regular people who work in a regular store with the vest and whole nine, do you really need a full-on wardrobe person on set?
CD: You’d be surprised! I bet people who work in a big box store would be shocked at how much attention goes into our wardrobe. We have a great wardrobe department and although it has the look of just a store you see every day there’s a lot of work that goes into that. If you look at what Dina’s wearing, she has a lot of accouterments on, she’s got all they keys she got everything. Even for me, my character Garrett, he has his vest on but that vest is actually shorter than everyone elses so it still looks cool and doesn’t drape down over my legs. You’d be surprised how many people are in there making khaki and blue shirts look good.
BSO: I’ve always wanted to do a flashmob in a store where a group of people all dress up like store employees and rush out. Have you guys ever worn your uniforms off set and gone into a big box store and tried to blend in and help customers.
CD: I haven’t becaue they don’t let me take any property off the Universal lot, but every once in a while I’ll go to Target and I’ll have on a red shirt because I like red shirts and khaki.. and someone will ask me where housewares is.
BSO: As you become recognized more, what’s the most interesting fan encounter you’ve had?
CD: My favorite fan encounters happen when I go into a big box store and someone recognizes me and brings me over to the other employees and they start to tell us their stories. Stories about crazy things happening in the store and ‘we had a guy living in the back that we found out about’ stuff like that.
BSO: Have you ever drawn on those experiences when you go into Garrett mode?
CD: I have, but it’s more from my own experiences. There’s one experience I recently had that’s going to be in an episode I hope, we had it at a table read. You know when you go into a couple stores and the receipts have gotten really long and there’s tons of coupons? So I brought that to the writers and was like ‘can we do something about these long receipts?’
BSO: That’s that quick writer’s wit at work. Are there any plans to put you at the helm of the writing desk during season 2?
CD: No, not this season, maybe in the future at some point I may try to put on the writing shoes but right now I want to focus on the character of Garrett and working with the other actors. And like I said, once you step into that writer’s room you have to get your own coffee so I’m going to try and hang on to this as long as I can.
BSO: I checked out twitter timeline and you’re pretty outspoken on a number social issues. Have you ever felt the need to shy away from expressing your opinions?
CD: As an American my duty is to use my voice to say what my opinion is. We live in a great time where there are tons of platforms where we can share our opinions. Sometimes I say something on twitter and people disagree and that’s alright. I’m always going to use my First Amendment right to say what I like and I hope anybody out there will do the same. Nothing changes if people keep their mouth shut and don’t say anthing. I think like everybody else, I want things to get better and people get treated great and hope this country becomes a better place.
BSO: And lastly, what do you want new people tuning in to know about Superstore and the Cloud 9 employees?
CD: First of all, people need to know this show is just fun. It’s a funny show, the characters are great; its one of those shows where you can flow right into the next episode. You can just sit down and let the countdown click right into the next opening credits because everyone is relatable.
A lot of shows out there are sort of escapists shows, they’re like about fighter pilots or spies. Our show takes place in a big box store. Everybody’s been there, everybody’s seen something weird at one of those stores. It’s very relatable, its very fun. We’ll definitely deal with topics and we’ll deal with some stuff that’s going on in the world but rule number 1 is, is it funny? Are we having fun with it? And that’s that what I think people will enjoy about Superstore