Give Marquette

Marquette University Alumni Association

J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients

Young Alumnus of the Year Award

Pasadena, Calif.

College changed Danny’s life. After all, his big break came via the fictional, shenanigan-prone Greendale Community College, where he romps around as one of the stars of the NBC sitcom Community. Danny plays Abed, a socially awkward pop-culture buff who joins a study group of other oddball classmates (played by Chevy Chase and Joel McHale, among others).

But Danny says it was his real-life alma mater — and then-performing arts director Phylis Ravel — that put him on the path to acting. He was the first winner of the Chris Farley Scholarship, which is awarded to students who show creativity and a sense of humor. It was after that accomplishment “that I started to believe a career in the arts was possible,” he says. (Marquette is also where he met his wife, Bridget Showalter Pudi, Comm ’01).

After graduation, Danny honed his comedic chops at Chicago’s Second City. Once in L.A., he got bit parts on E.R., The West Wing and Gilmore Girls, then starred in a national T-mobile commercial as “the butt dialer.” But it was landing the Community role in 2009 that finally allowed him to give up his day job as an actuarial recruiter.

“It’s a creative environmentthat allows me to laugh, be challenged and connect with people all over the world,” he says of Community. “I’m thankful for that gift.”

A huge Marquette basketball fan, Danny tries to make it back to Milwaukee a couple of times a year. He has starred in videos promoting the university, shared his experiences with current Diederich students and performed on campus with other alums as part of the improv troupe the Avalancheros. Danny frequently collaborates with friends from Marquette.

“My time in Milwaukee was special and taught me the power of collaboration, the value of long underwear and that I should never have long hair again (mandate from my wife).”

Get to Know: Danny Pudi

Hometown: Chicago

Favorite book: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Someone past or present he’d like to have dinner with: Albert Einstein

Favorite Marquette memory: The few, warm autumn days when you could convince your teacher to have class outside.

Most influential in Danny’s life: His Mom; she has always encouraged him and continues to inspire him every day.