Party Down Stars Talk About Quinta Brunson's Guest Spot Before Abbott Elementary Became A Hit

The following post contains spoilers about "Party Down" season 3.

The third season of the beloved cult favorite comedy series "Party Down" is finally upon us, and longtime fans are rejoicing. The new six-episode run sees most of the original cast returning, including Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, Megan Mullally, and Jane Lynch. Set roughly ten years after the events of season 2, the thankless life of caterers in Los Angeles hasn't gotten any easier, although some of the wannabe actors and comedians have managed to escape the daily drudgery to have successful careers in the cutthroat entertainment business. 

Former child actor Henry Pollard (Scott) has lost his girlfriend Casey Klein (Lizzy Caplan) to fame and fortune, and bo-hunk Kyle Bradway (Hansen) is on the verge of blockbuster stardom with a big role in a ridiculous science fiction franchise. To mark the event, Kyle hires the Party Down Catering Company he used to work for, now owned by the hopelessly ambitious Ron Donald (Marino), to celebrate his newfound success. 

Sadly, Roman (Starr) is still working as a caterer and still writing his hard sci-fi epic that will probably never be read by anyone. Henry, now a struggling English teacher, shows up at the party to reunite with his old cohorts along with Lydia (Mullally) and Constance (Lynch), who are even more ridiculous now that they've found success. 

Apart from the incredible chemistry of the original cast, "Party Down" has become such a staple of comfort TV because of so many memorable guest star cameos. In the first episode of season 3, "Abbott Elementary" breakout star Quinta Brunson adds another great performance to the list, appearing as Kyle's no-nonsense agent, Jaff, who has to deal with a career-threatening video from Kyle's past.

Before she was a star

/Film's Ryan Scott recently spoke with "Party Down" stars Ryan Hansen and Martin Starr and asked both actors to reminisce about some of their favorite guest stars that appeared over the course of the new season. Part of the fun and uniqueness of "Party Down" is the fact that it's a workplace show that has a different setting and location for every episode. That becomes a perfect formula to be able to feature new cameos from well-known, established celebrities. 

When Quinta Brunson appeared on the first episode, she wasn't a sitcom star yet, giving "Party Down" the opportunity to feature a true up-and-coming talent on the show before they hit the big time. Hansen spoke about the joy of seeing Brunson come on the set of "Party Down" as a lesser-known comedy talent and then become a household name, telling /Film:

"I didn't know who she was, but she introduced herself, and I was like, 'Oh, cool. What do you do? What show?' And she was like, 'I just wrote this little show called 'Abbott Elementary.” And I was like, 'Good luck with that little show, you!' And she crushed it on set. We were all huge fans after the day. But to see her just blow up after just last year, it's been incredible."

The first season of "Abbott Elementary" aired in December of 2021, and season 3 of "Party Down" started shooting just a month later, in January of 2022, so Brunson's meteoric rise was just beginning when Hansen worked with her. Virtually every character in "Party Down" wants to live out their Hollywood dream in some form, so it's especially meta to have Brunson on the first episode of the new season just before she became a Golden Globe Award winner

Bring back Guttenberg!

Understandably, celebrities were lining up to appear in the "Party Down" revival, a fact that was incredibly validating to the original cast, especially Martin Starr. But it also came with a caveat. "To come back and do this and get to work with even more incredible people — it sucks because you can't revisit people who you've had on, usually," Starr told /Film at a roundtable discussion. "It's tough to bring back Steven Weber or [Steve] Guttenberg." 

Playing himself, episode 5 of season 2 celebrates Steve Guttenberg's birthday in what is arguably the funniest episode of the series. And that's even when you include the new episodes of season 3. I'll refrain from mentioning some of the huge stars that appear in season 3 to avoid spoilers, but why can't Guttenberg return at some point down the line? I would agree with Starr that no other actor should reprise their role from a previous episode, although Guttenberg should be the exception to that rule.

For now, however, with Brunson's hilarious turn in the "Party Down" opener and the celebrity star power found in the rest of season 3, part of the fun is seeing how other actors can be brought into the fold. "It's so exciting that people are excited to be a part of it, too. That we can pull really interesting, talented guest stars in to be a part of this with us," Starr said. "We're so fortunate that people don't look at this and go, 'Oh, no thank you.' That people are excited to hang with us and try to make a funny show funnier." There might be an opportunity to bring back Brunson and Guttenberg somewhere down the line, though. 

Season 3 of "Party Down" premiered on February 24, 2023, and will air every subsequent Friday on Starz.