Donald Glover Takes Us Around His New York
We’re driving down Broadway on our way to Opening Ceremony when Donald Glover spots a Gap. “I just did one of those,” he says, pointing to a window-size ad of Anja Rubik in jeans and a pair of black heels. “We shot it outside on the hottest day of the summer, and we had to pretend like it was cold. I was literally fucking boiling, wearing all of these different layers.”
Although hyperbole is part of Glover’s charm, things are in fact heating up for the Los Angeles-based, 27-year-old star of NBC’s Community, who graduated with a degree in dramatic writing from NYU before becoming a staff writer for 30 Rock. On Community, Glover, who also records rap albums as Childish Gambino, plays Troy Barnes, a jock who says things like, “Girls are supposed to dance. That’s why god gave them parts that jiggle.” Even if Troy isn’t the sharpest knife in a drawer filled with takeout cutlery, Glover’s show continues to be recognized as one of the smartest on television.
Like Arrested Development and Freaks and Geeks before it, Community has a devout if modest following. “I think the network believes it’s a DVD show,” Glover says. “They’re also banking on it doing well in syndication, because, honestly, it’s not the kind of show that people rush home to watch at 8 o’clock on a Thursday. We appeal to a younger, busy demographic. There’s a ‘Save Community’ group on Facebook, which is kind of dope but also kind of unnecessary. It’s not like the studio guys at NBC will say, ‘Isn’t that sweet? At least 2,000 people really want Community to stay on the air!”
Glover’s phone rings. “Oh, look, it’s Joel McHale,” he says before answering his series costar’s call. “Did you catch the shit he pulled with Hoda and Kathie Lee on the fourth hour of Today?” A few hours earlier, on live television, the morning show hosts asked McHale why they’re so often the objects of his derision on The Soup, McHale’s own show, to which the comedian, drinking scotch from the bottle, replied, “Have you seen your show?” Later this evening, Glover and McHale will perform a sold-out stand-up comedy show at Carnegie Hall, but first Glover—or “Darnell,” as Tina Fey referred to him on a recent live episode of 30 Rock—spends some time exploring a community of his own.
Ace Hotel – 20 West 29th Street, 212-679-2222 The Ace is my favorite hotel in New York. I like how snooty the writings on the walls are. They’re funny, as if a teenager did them, like, “You think you’re so fucking hot because you’re in a hotel.” I like the bar, and I like that the Breslin is attached to it. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop. When I want to be alone, I stay at the Greenwich Hotel (377 Greenwich Street, thegreenwichhotel.com). Ace is where I stay when I want to party. I’ve gone to SNL after-parties here, where everyone gets sloshed, although it’s definitely not the ’70s anymore. Kenan [Thompson] is always the highest, but most of the cast have kids and families. We don’t have a Farley or anything. The most fun I’ve ever had at one of those things was the night that Kanye was on the show last year. Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Chris Rock were all there, and I almost cried when I saw Jay-Z. I’ve never felt that way before in my life. It was too much.
The Jane – 113 Jane Street, 212-924-6700 I’ve only been here once, pretty inebriated, with Jessica Conrad, a friend of mine who writes for SNL. It definitely has a weird, The Shining vibe to it. Many prostitutes have been strangled here. [Glover’s phone beeps. He checks his Twitter account.] I get about 50 messages an hour, mostly from middle-aged gay men and Filipinos. I remember a lot of the faces of the people who tweet at me. I was at a bar recently, and I went up to a girl and said, You’re on Twitter. You said you had a dream about me. What happened in that dream? Last night I was really drunk in the Lower East Side, and so I got a bunch of messages, like, “Just saw Donald stumbling out of a bar.” If I weren’t a comedian, I’d probably be worried about what people think of me, but I don’t really give a shit. I’m always drunk-tweeting. I’m always doing something stupid in public. [I ask if he follows the Twitter ramblings of Courtney Love.] I didn’t even know she tweeted! I saw her perform earlier this year at the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle, and I was expecting her show to be a fucking fuck dumpster. But she really blew me away. Her voice sounds like a trashcan hitting all the right notes.
Minetta Tavern – 113 MacDougal Street 212-475-3850 I came here the last time I visited New York. I got the invite from somebody really famous, but I can’t remember who. I used that celebrity’s reservation—they can apparently always go in here—to get a meal and it was great. I remember sitting next to this buff, blond, white polo shirt-wearing Aryan guy who had a woman on either side of him, and they all sat in their booth talking about business. It was like something straight from a Lacoste ad.
A.P.C. – 131 Mercer Street 212-966-5851 Gillian [Jacobs, from Community] and I go shopping together at the A.P.C. store just off Melrose in Los Angeles. I help her out by convincing her to buy stuff. She doesn’t like to spend a lot of money, and so she needs someone there to tell her she looks good in the clothing. I prefer shopping at this one, though, because it’s bigger and has more stuff.
Opening Ceremony – 35 Howard Street, 212-219-2688 I’m really into this Comme des Garçons cardigan, even if it is for women. I love clothes, and I always think it sucks that I can’t wear the same thing on different talk shows. I’ve got a really nice Marc Jacobs suit, which I wore on Leno, but when it was time to go on Ferguson, everyone told me I couldn’t wear it. I always end up talking about girls who I think are hot—Mila Kunis, Rihanna—on talk shows. I have a whole section on my website devoted to sex. I try to keep up with it, but I’m really picky because I want nice pictures, like hi-resolution shit.
Photography by Alexander Wagner.