Six years ago in April 2009, NBC’s Parks and Recreation hit the airwaves. Starting off in the shadow of its similar-style counterpart, The Office, the show needed to find their own balance of success and do so quickly. With the show starring Saturday Night Live alum Amy Poehler and other actors who were not necessarily well-known at the time, they had to come out and make a name for themselves. After 125-episodes and seven seasons later, that is exactly what they have done by establishing laughs, heartfelt moments, and a huge fan-base. Over the past few years, Parks and Recreation has become one of televisions best sitcoms.It all began in Pawnee, Indiana where the head of the local government’s Parks department, Leslie Knope (Poehler), simply tried turning an abandoned construction pit into a community park behind local nurse, Anne Perkins’ (Rashida Jones) home. With many unknown challenges awaiting Leslie, her colleagues got busy to work. The show stars many big names now in the comedy world, such as Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe and many others including cameos from Paul Rudd to Bill Murray. One man that has made a name for himself from being in every episode of the series, with the exception of the first season episode, “Canvassing,” is the actor Jim O’Heir. I had the privilege of interviewing O’Heir, known on the show for playing character, Jerry Gergich. As part of a running joke throughout the series Jerry is routinely called by many names including Larry, Terry, and Gary. Additionally, O’Heir’s character is always the center of the jokes due to his to his embarrassing history and clumsy tendencies. This involves a collection of awkward moments including getting plastic surgery after being hit by a fire truck, routinely spilling his cup of soup or coffee, and falling into the creek while bending down to pick up a burrito, among many other humiliating moments throughout the series. Despite being made fun of and being called the wrong name by his co-workers on a daily basis, Jerry is one of television’s most kind-hearted characters and is always overwhelmingly nice to his friends at the Parks and Recreation department.
When asked about his favorite memory working on Parks and Recreation, O’Heir said,
“I have many many amazing memories from working on Parks. I can say that my favorite times where when the cast was all together shooting a conference room scene. We would always laugh and mess around with each other.”
Up until the final episode of the series, fans can count on laughs from Leslie’s extreme positivity, Ron’s (Nick Offerman) bold stubbornness, Andy’s (Chris Pratt) child-like traits, April’s (Aubrey Plaza) indifferent approach to everything, and Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Donna’s (Retta) swagger and style. When you’re working with a group of people for six years straight, you become very close with them and they seem almost like a second family. I was very fortunate to gain some additional insight into the magic that took place on the set of one of TV’s funniest shows.
I asked Jim, of all your fellow cast mates, who have you formed the closest bond with?
He replied, “I’m close with everybody, but Retta became my “set wife”. We hung out in each other trailers all the time. Because we both were hired without being series regulars it sort of bonded us. She’s the best!”
Which episode do you consider to be your favorite?
“I have two favorites…I love the episode called The Hunting Trip. It was the first time we were all out of the office together and each character was given some great stuff to do. I also love The Harvest Festival. In that one we were all trying to get the Harvest Festival together, but we lost Lil’ Sebastian in the craziness.”
What was the biggest challenge about working on the show?
“The biggest challenge was not laughing at the other actors. It’s tough to be on a set with Chris Pratt and not lose it. He’s the funniest guy around and never does the same take twice. I’m so happy to say that the toughest part of my job was not to laugh at my coworkers. What a gift.”
In real life, which of your co-stars is most like their character on the show?
“I guess I would say that Nick Offerman is most like his character Ron Swanson. Nick is very different from Ron politically, but they both love wood working and meat. Lol.”
After watching the series finale and being a fan of the show for the last six years I just want to thank O’Heir and the whole Parks and Recreation cast for the many laughs and memories. Farewell Pawnee, Indiana. I will miss you.