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The Voice of the People: An Interview with NBC’s Superstore’s Colton Dunn

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Superstore is open for business once more. NBC’S breakout workplace comedy is back for a second season after having 6.9 million viewers last season. From the bright-eyed newbies and the seen-it-all veterans, to the clueless summer hires and the in-it-for-life managers, together they hilariously tackle the day-to-day grind of rabid bargain hunters, riot-causing sales and nap-worthy training sessions.

This show also stars Colton Dunn who plays Garrett, a Cloud 9 associate who is paralyzed from the waist down. He is often heard making announcements over the store PA system. He enjoys pulling pranks on his coworkers and even customers, usually out of boredom.

The Koalition had an opportunity to speak to Dunn to discuss all things Garrett and what fans can expect in season two.

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Fans of the show know Garrett is a ladies man, always looking for love. During the first season we’ve seen eclectic women come into his life; some who may or may not be morally depraved. But who or what exactly peaks Garrett’s interest?

“Garret sometimes is a little more focused visually. Sometimes you’ll see him falling for women who may not have the same social and political viewpoints but he’s willing to make exceptions. But sometimes it gets him into situations where he’s possibly spending his time with somebody he really doesn’t like their politics.”

As seen in the season two premiere episode, there’s really no line Garrett won’t cross when it comes to the ladies, especially when he meets a bigot, homophobic, racist. Despite his dating choices, Garrett is trying to figure himself out and that includes many dating trials and errors.

“I don’t know where that line is yet, we haven’t found a line yet. Maybe by the end of this season we’ll figure that out. I think that’s what dating is for everybody though, right; figuring out what those lines are. I think I see him exploring his love life a little bit. Sort of coming to terms with what’s important to him as far as finding a girlfriend. But I also just see him kind of enjoying the chaos around him.”

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When we last left Superstore, the workers walked out in protest after Glenn’s firing. Jonah, Amy, Glenn, Garrett, Mateo, and the rest of the workers stand up to corporate management for Glenn’s job, maternity leave, and overtime pay. In the real world, most big-box retailers don’t give their employees great wage or benefits. It’s real-world topics like this and the open-carry gun episode later in the season that sometimes got Superstore labeled with “tackling controversial topics.” However Dunn doesn’t see it that way.

“We definitely deal with topics. What I think is kinda funny is people look at the show and they “whoa nilly, they’re dealing with these controversial topics” but our show takes place in a store, and it takes place in the real world and everybody has to kind of deal with those topics. So, you know, we even have an episode where we kind of have a gun section and we’re dealing sort of with the open-carry situation that are just real life situations people have to deal with. As you go to a city with an open-carry you might see a somebody walking around with an AR15. Does that makes you feel safer, it might make you feel uncomfortable. It’s not controversial it’s just what it’s like living in America today.”

The writers tackling these topics, have made Superstore fresh with ideas. Each character standouts on their own and this has made Garret the “voice of the sarcastic people,” always chiming in with snarky remarks that, let’s face it, we all would make.

“In a lot of ways I try to let Garrett be sort of the viewer of the show and kind of respond to sort of the craziness around him, the way the viewer is. Just be the sarcastic voice of the watcher. Garret gets his sarcasm a little bit from me and a little bit from the writing team. They (the writers) really do a great job of just when I don’t think Garrett could be more sarcastic, they come up with something even more sarcastic. I really like that. ”

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An Emmy nominated writer himself, Colton Dunn’s talents really shine through his ability to improvise, especially while on the loudspeaker or interacting with customers.

“Yeah, we definitely do a lot of improvisation on the show which is great. One of the great things about the show is that we get these really great scripts, and those can also serve up some great jokes but they’re also great skeleton for the story that we’re telling. So all the actors, I think, all get a chance to take a little improv route and sometimes we’re able to find something and use it and sort of just the actors ability to act in the character married with a good storyline we’ve been giving by the writers to improvise some really funny stuff.”

The closeness with the writers and their ability to really understand the character has created an atmosphere where everyone has an open dialogue with each other, thus making for a stronger show.

“The nice thing is that we (the writers and I) have a pretty open dialogue so we’re going back and forth with ideas throughout the whole process. So there’s never really been a situation where I got to a table read or anything where I was really surprised or like “what? Garrett would never do this.” One of the nice thing about the show is that the writers are very very close to us actors and they’re also very close to the characters. So I think so far we’ve had no sort of instances where I was like “Garrett would never say or do anything like that.” It’s a pretty open environment. If there was ever something we just wanted to tweak, I wanted to say something in a different way; they’re totally open to that stuff. But for the most part everybody’s got a great lock on all the characters.”

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Despite the strike falling apart in season two, Garrett couldn’t care either way about how the strike went or if they were all laid-off, which makes him stand out compared to the other Cloud 9 workers.

“I think the one thing that makes Garrett unique from everybody else is that he of all the characters couldn’t care less about the job. I think all the other characters are really good workers, they’re there probably because they really want the job. I think if they were to job strike, Garrett would be just fine. Find a job somewhere else and probably decide he doesn’t want to work there either.  I think what has set him apart is that he likes the check but he really doesn’t care. Well, hopefully he can get a job at a video game company. Any video games. Definitely video games. Anything to do with video games.” However, if Garrett were to ever protest against something, “I think Garrett would definitely protest against sort of any kind of dress code, he likes his cool t-shirts, he likes to wear his cool tennis shoes. I think if they implemented any sort of handy dress code, that would definitely be the straw that broke Garrett’s back.”

You can catch out Colton Dunn and the rest of the Superstore cast on Thursdays on NBC at 8/7c.

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