Community: Grifting 101
May 7, 2015 9:51 AM - Season 6, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Yes, they offer "Grifting 101" at Greendale, literally. Most of the cast is super psyched to take it. Jeff, of course, has issues with the professor.

So...yeah, pardon the hella late post (I have like, very little time to watch TV this week), but apparently nobody else did one either so...ok then!

This episode is all about The Sting, complete with drawn sketches of the cast at various times, a Sting-esque piano version of the theme song, and at one point everyone watches The Sting, But more on that later.

Jeff's bored of the new course catalog, but everyone else is excited to spot a course called "Basic Grifting." Let's all take it together, Annie says! Abed's in and Britta will be in as long as she gets some money for it (Annie is all "We'll just get the money from your parents."), Chang and Elroy are in. Jeff is all "You're so going to get grifted," pointing out specifically that everyone has to pay $150 for a special grifting briefcase. He also says that "I'm the closest thing Greendale has to an experienced grifter." Everyone literally points and laughs at him for this.

The professor, Roger del Salvo, of course shows up in a white suit and fedora. Everyone applauds him and has their briefcases. He tells them to hold them aloft and pass them to each other ("pass them like your sister's dying")...all class long. He kicks back with a book. Wow, you are so Jeff. The professor also won't talk to Annie if she uses her real name, so Abed makes up a grifter name.

After class, Jeff is all "I told you it was a ripoff." The group grumbles that all they did were pass briefcases while he sold them various things, like Chang's new "extra believable socks." The group wants to grift the professor back, but Jeff won't help. But he's even lazier than you are--shouldn't you consider that a challenge? Jeff says the professor sounds like a good guy and since he hasn't done anything to Jeff, who cares.

Then it turns out that Roger and Jeff are sharing an office now, and Roger is at Jeff's desk with his booze. Jeff admires Roger's style and says he's "one of you" and brags about his law career. Roger is all, that's lying, not grifting, and they argue the point. Jeff is all, "Only a delusional hobo would glorify stealing," and declares Roger to be an ass. Roger declares himself to be God, no joke. Jeff politely agrees to disagree and leaves, while Roger talks to himself in his pocket mirror.

Jeff comes across the group, still passing briefcases. "Well, it was homework." He's in on grifting! Screaming and hugging ensues! Grift becomes a nonsense word!

In the next class, they'll all be passing fake money in their briefcases. Roger compliments Elroy because he has no idea what Elroy's name is. Then SOMEONE sends Elroy a telegram(!) that he was left a million dollars in Africa. Class dismissed--NOT you, nameless! It's the African Telegram, the Jim Belushi of grifts! Someone must have looked that up online, I wonder who. Elroy is kicked out of class, and Roger fingers Jeff for a grift within a grift.

In the teacher's lounge/bar, Jeff asks Roger about class as they drink. He suggests ending the competition, and then oh, btw, someone left his lottery ticket on the table! This is all nonsense. Frankie walks in and yells at everyone that this is not a bar. "You don't have to go teach a class, but you can't stay here." Jeff says they'll split the winning lottery ticket, which he tucks in Roger's pocket. What. Roger goes to Britta's bar and she calls him out for grifting. He figures out Jeff is her ex. She doesn't like Roger's effect on Jeff and asks: what will it cost to make Roger go away?

Cut to the group having a secret meeting in a storage room. He took the bait, but does anyone really gets Jeff's plan? No, because he's making it up as he goes along. Abed cites watching The Sting, and Jeff points out that he really hasn't had time to make one up. Abed notes that 20% of The Sting is hand drawn. Jeff points out that he NEEDS to be better than this guy, and let him think!

They all decide to watch The Sting, and then they are totally bored during it and Elroy fell asleep. Annie asks how the sting happened, and Abed says they rented a building and paid a thousand people to put on the con in secrecy. I just want to say here that my parents love(d) The Sting and made me watch it too many times and every freaking time I have fallen asleep through pretty much all of it except the ending and that movie is BORING AS SHIT. I don't care if it's a classic, I have never been able to make it through the first 3/4 of that movie AND IT'S BORING, OKAY?!? Maybe they should watch another movie? Abed thinks that grifts must only happen in movies and they barely make sense there. (I think everyone should go watch Leverage.) Everyone agrees that The Sting is awful.

Roger walks in, and Jeff surrenders to Roger and says he's not a grift. Roger says he called Jeff a thug, but thugs actually fight. Britta is a thug, though, and hits Roger. "You hit me! With a woman's hand!" "I lived in New York!" She chases him and everyone runs out. Roger slips and falls. Down the stairs. He screams a lot. Chang is all "yeah, right, he's gifting us!" It's fake blood!

Cut to the dean's office, where Roger's arm is in a sling and he's in a neck brace in a wheelchair and is being given a suitcase full of real money. The Dean counts "twenty-one." Frankie wants to know if he's counting actual money or just the stacks. Uh..... She's on record as being disgusted by the transaction paying Roger off. The Dean says they offer many cash only classes at Greendale. Oh, and Britta is now expelled. Elroy tries to defend Britta by saying she founded the group as a fake biology group so she could boink Troy. Abed points out that "You can't expel her with four weekisodes left in the seasonester" and Annie is all, "She's been here 6 years, 3 more and she'll have her 2 year degree." WHICH IS THE BEST DESCRIPTION OF THE BLACK HOLE OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES EVER.

Everyone hugs Britta as Roger wheels out of there. Britta flips Roger off, but later meets him in the storage room. They secretly planned all of this in the bar, and he hands her some money for her briefcase. She kisses him, and says she only agreed to this to get Roger away from here. Jeff is an idiot, but she hates watching him spin out trying to beat him. Roger sings loudly about how he's the lucky grifter, they call me the king of England. He wheels back out. Hey, wait...that's fake money in the briefcase...and someone switched them while Britta made out with him. It was Abed! They wave and run.

Leonard, dressed as a bellboy, brings a cart of identical briefcases and starts chucking them out to everyone. Briefcase parade (led by Garrett)! Leonard flips Roger off off.

The cop from the previous episode is talking to Frankie, and nobody knows about the theft that Roger is talking about. Gee, you say you got paid 50K for those injuries, but you seem to be in good shape. The cop and Frankie compare photos of their mentally challenged relatives (apparently Frankie's sister could be her twin, PRINCESS DAISY reference, damn). The cop is all, they grifted you. I didn't say that! They don't get what the word means! Jeff chimes in from behind, saying that Roger either owes the school money or he was targeted by people he underestimated and they took back the money and nobody owes anyone anything if Roger will... well, Roger admits he was grifted. Yay! Oh, and nobody called the cop to come here--he takes macrame class after work and everyone knows it. Sorry you got grifted, but let me know if you want to press charges.

Roger loses his job. Frankie suggests they all get hot dogs. Chang wasn't in on it because he can't be trusted, but he's okay with that! (Remember, he's the professional actor.) Everyone chants "hot dogs!"

The stinger: The fake telegram guy goes to see Jeff. He owes Jeff. Jeff is all, can you move a mattress this weekend? This guy is named Ryan Ridley (a show writer, as it turns out), whose life was saved at the gym by Jeff, and now Jeff keeps making him do things and he never calls them even. Welcome to the show called "The Guy From Jeff's Gym." Starring Ryan Ridley, and Jeff Winger as "Him."
posted by jenfullmoon (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Weakest of the new season. Some decent jokes, and it's always nice to see Matt Berry just oozing his mattberryness, but... I know that everything at Greendale is the low-rent version of its real-world counterpart, but this wasn't even a grift. Which I know was the point of it all, but still, meh.
posted by Etrigan at 10:34 AM on May 7, 2015


That's quite a summary! Good work.

I like to see Matt Berry basically playing Matt Berry. He make s a good grifter.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:36 AM on May 7, 2015


I thought it was a decent episode myself and a bit more of your routine Community, especially harking back to Seasons 1 and 2, when episodes would often originate out of specific courses the characters would be taking. Was it the funniest? Naw, but I think it kept a good level of whimsy going throughout. And now I feel like I have to watch The Sting and be disappointed by it.

Thoughts on the Rag version of the Community intro?
posted by Atreides at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2015


Heh, thanks!

It was a nice intro...I was all "hey, that flowed into the usual theme really nicely!"

I thought it was "just okay," for the most part. I kind of suspect it would have been more exciting with Shirley and Troy around, with Shirley objecting to the whole idea and Troy diving into it. It seemed a little half hearted of sorts, especially with Jeff NOT being the king of schemers. I felt sad for him.

On the other hand, I appreciated Britta of all people getting schemey and anyone saying that the Sting is boring gets a big ol' thumbs up from me and my bored childhood of watching that. And all of those Thomas Crown (or Sting? I don't know, I sleep through it) briefcases were amusing, especially at the end. And also Abed saying that these things really only work in movies and barely make sense.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2015


I liked this episode a lot. If, like me, you enjoy the art of the con, The Thomas Crowne Affair was damn good and Hustle is the best show about con artists to date.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2015


Garth Marenghi's Darkplace - if you went weak at the knees for Matt Berry again and didn't immediately say monkey bastard hands, you should watch these.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:10 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Berry is good in Darkplace and the IT Crowd. Unfortunately, he has a limited range. You could drop this character into another of his shows without causing much of a ripple. Toast of London, for instance, was awful.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:28 PM on May 7, 2015


Because some part of my brain is, like, 10 years old, I found the couple of lines around Chang trying to figure out how a reverse pissing contest works particularly hilarious.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:00 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's funny, I thought maybe there was no Fanfare post for this episode because everyone else was having issues with Yahoo Screen this week. I ended up bailing on watching the episode because during commercial breaks there was a Subway commercial which made the whole stream turn to crap. I'd close the browser, open the episode back up, and have the same thing. It would play fine until that Subway commercial, then turn into a slideshow.

But anyway, I love The Sting. When this episode began I started enthusiastically blubbering to my wife about it (she hadn't seen it) and how we should watch it this weekend and how it's so intricately built up for a big climax and Newman and Redford and blah blah blah. Then everyone on the show started talking about how awful it is. And how it's like six hours long. And gave away the ending. ALRIGHT FINE THE STING FUCKING SUCKS ALRIGHT, I'M SORRY -sob-
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:10 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I haven't watched it recently, but I feel like Community is totally wrong about "The Sting." Part of my belief might be based on the fact that the main con in the movie is based on one that conmen actually used to run.
posted by drezdn at 8:08 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hah, no, I just didn't get to actually being up early enough or late enough with free time to watch it on Tuesday and I guess nobody else did before me either! (Can't wait until my schedule frees up a bit in the next few weeks...then I'll watch all the TV shows everyone else already saw.)

I wish I loved The Sting, but I just literally cannot. stay. interested. in it until the end of the movie/the actual sting. I have no idea how the hell it came about or why they are doing it to this day because it starts soooooo slooooooooow. Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:38 AM on May 8, 2015


I loved the briefcase parade. It is contrived for the grift but it also seems like a silly thing that silly people might actually do.
posted by Monochrome at 2:54 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The briefcase bit is a spoof of any number of movies, I believe--The Thomas Crowne Affair (the remake) is the most notable that springs to mind.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 6:19 PM on May 12, 2015


Yay for the Leverage mention!
posted by Pronoiac at 1:28 AM on May 16, 2015


At one point Britta refers to Jeff as her ex. Did they actually "date"? I thought they just messed around casually (and mostly in secret) for a while.
posted by radioamy at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2015


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