Exclusive: Shawn Parikh, New Kid in 'Cougar Town'
Exclusive: Shawn Parikh, New Kid in 'Cougar Town'
There was very little that was memorable about the short-lived NBC series Outsourced. But Shawn Parikh managed to stand out in just fifteen seconds of screen time. His answer to the question, "Do you know what grits are?" made for instant YouTube gold. Not only was the clip a hit online, it also spawned a Facebook page called "Bring Back the Outsourced Grits Guy."

Parikh parlayed his popularity into a stint on ABC's Cougar Town - where he plays Sig, the college roommate of popular character Travis. He'll be featured in four upcoming episodes of the critically-acclaimed show, having already appeared briefly in the season 3 premiere. BuddyTV caught up with Parikh to talk about his experience on the much-beloved show, and whether or not the Cougar Town crew believes they'll be picked up for a fourth season. Also, Shawn drops a few hints about what's to come this season.

BuddyTV: Tell us how you got the part on Cougar Town.

Shawn Parikh: I was auditioning like crazy. And I went on this one. When I went, I was one of, like, seven [potential] roommates. And I went in. Pretty much nailed it. And I got the call from casting that I got the part. And they abandoned the seven roommates idea, they decided Travis was only going to have one roommate. It was originally only supposed to be one or two episodes. But my first day on the set, [showrunner] Bill Lawrence told me I was going to be on the entire season.

BTV: The audition process: Is it like we've seen it portrayed on shows like Entourage, where you're sitting in a room with, essentially, seven or eight doppelgangers?

SP: (Laughs) Most of the time, yes. It's really funny with us Indian actors, because we all kind of know each other. But for Cougar Town, I was the only Indian actor there. It was just all early-to-mid twenties kids of varying ethnicities. And everyone's in their own little bubble. Everyone's just kind of rehearsing, working on their lines, trying to size each other up. And then you go in the room, and you can tell that the casting director really wants you to nail the part. That's the one thing I think people don't get. It's not that they have anything against you, even though they might be cold or mean. They just want you to wow them.

BTV: Were you a fan of Cougar Town before you got the part?

SP: I watched it here and there. I didn't really get into it because of the title, honestly. That's definitely one of their big issues. People don't give the show a chance because of the title. It has nothing to do with cougars now. But I was definitely a fan of Scrubs, which Bill Lawrence created. I love that [type of] humor, and I didn't realize that the same team was behind Cougar Town. It was one of those things where, in the beginning, they were trying to figure out the cougar concept with Courtney Cox, and they realized it didn't work. But they totally reformatted it, and now it's pretty much friends in their forties drinking wine for thirty minutes.

BTV: Friends in their forties save for Travis. And that's where you come in, as you play his roommate Sig. Tell us about the character.

SP: Well, we're kind of geeky. Kind of nerdy, wanting to meet girls. We have a green screen in our living room, which is kind of funny. We have these different tactics to get chicks. My arc is that I get annoyed with Travis' family, because they're very intrusive. Always coming over, interrupting college life. So I would say I'm a little snarky on the show.

BTV: That seems to really fit in with the modus operandi of the show. Actors who work on the show always talk about what a fun group it is to play off of. Did you feel the same way about working with the cast?

SP: For sure. I've admired everyone there forever, it feels like. And just being on set with them has been really, really cool. They're all so down-to-earth. Everyone wants to play. Everyone wants to laugh. They have you improv a lot. I remember, my first day on the set, Bill Lawrence had me improv a scene, not knowing whether or not it was going to make the show. But I love improv, so I had fun doing it. Everyone there just wants to make sure that everyone else is having fun. And I think that comes across in the show, and it's one of the big reason why people like it so much.

BTV: Cougar Town has one of the more rabid fan bases of any show on television right now. Are the people who work on the show conscious of the cult-like following they've acquired?

SP: Without a doubt! Everyone on set knows about it. They love that we have this huge fan base. It's so thrilling for us. Everyone just loves seeing all the support that's out there for Cougar Town - all the fans that love all the little inside jokes that are on the show that you catch here and there. So they are totally aware of it, and they tried to make sure all the fans came back when the show premiered by having all of these underground parties all over the country. Bill Lawrence actually got people to tweet him that they wanted to host a Cougar Town party, and he'd show all up at these random places all over the country with new episodes of the show. That's kind of unheard of these days for a show.

BTV: Can that rabid fan base carry Cougar Town to a fourth season? What was the feeling on set amongst the cast about the show's prospects going forward?

SP: I mean, we were confident when we were shooting. The whole juggle with our timeslot has been kind of disappointing. But, over the past few weeks, everyone's been really happy with our shows. But no one knows for sure yet. They say it's going to take about five or six episodes to tell. But we're getting the word out. The existing fans still love the show. And we're adding some new viewers. All we can say is this season is a funny, funny season - where a lot of stuff goes on.

BTV: You've got us intrigued. Are there any hints you can offer about the direction of the show for the rest of the season?

SP: Well, you saw a proposal in the beginning of the season. There might be a wedding coming up. Courtney and Josh Hopkins have mentioned that there might be a "baby momma" around. We have tons of guest stars coming. Nicole Sullivan's going to be on, David Arquette, Sarah Chalke. There's going to be a Scrubs reunion in one of the episodes. And Travis and I will be dancing at some point, which is going to be really funny.

Don't miss Shawn Parikh on Cougar Town, Tuesdays at 8:30pm on ABC, and check out the official site for more info.

Joe DePaolo
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of ABC)