Back in the 90s, I remember this show and especially its distinctive theme song with its upbeat tempo and saxophone-laced tune, it was Night Court. It usually meant it was almost bedtime for me. It featured a cast of colorful characters: a judge who performed magic tricks (Judge Harry, played by Harry Anderson); a bald, physically imposing but friendly bailiff (Bull, played by Richard Moll); and a no-nonsense, quick-witted bailiff named Roz (played by Marsha Warfield). Now the 2023 Night Court features a host of new characters besides prosecutor Dan Fielding (played by John Larroquette). The show has a new bailiff, Donna “Gurgs” Gurganous (played by actress Lacretta). The actress took time from her busy schedule to talk with Taji Mag about her role on the show, her castmates, and even her love for gaming.
Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): I wanted to start by asking, how in the heck did you fall out of your hammock on New Year’s Eve?
Lacretta: So, I’m still kind of in shock with everything happening, right? Even though I’d been part of the Night Court project this whole time, I was trying to talk to my viewers about it. So I was like, “You know, let me just go upstairs to the roof and just kind of chill out for the night.” I got a little bit ahead of myself and instead of putting one leg into the hammock first and then the other leg, I decided to put both legs into the hammock and promptly tipped myself out of it. I scraped my toe on the wall, which was not a pretty picture. After I got myself all cleaned up, I went back up to the roof with a cocktail, and then I sat in a chair like a proper lady.
DDF: Bet you won’t make that mistake again. Tell me, what was your reaction when you got the role and how did you prepare for it?
Lacretta: I gravitated to and responded to the weirdest moments in cinema because I wanted to capture a little bit of Richard Mall. I felt I had to pay homage to him and the other bailiffs on the show.
I know altogether there were four different bailiffs. The first two, unfortunately, passed away at the end of their season. The other two were the most iconic for me (Richard Mall as “Bull” and Marsha Warfield as “Roz”). I had to pay homage to both of them.
Um, so as I was saying, for certain parts in the script, weird moments in cinema like from Orient Express and from Are You Being Served and Keeping Up Appearances (both British comedies) just kind of popped into my head and I just allowed myself to release. And then when I got the call that I had booked it, I was actually laying on the floor with my feet up because my ankle was a little puffy and I was trying to recirculate that blood. I got a text message…”oh my God, congratulations on Night Court being picked up” and I was like “What do you mean?” And my friend said “You guys got picked up!” I sat up so fast that I saw stars and got a little dizzy. I just had to text all my friends the good news.
I continued with the person that gave me the good news and said, “Well, did you check the date on the article?” He was like “yeah, it came out in Hollywood Reporter 10 minutes ago. Y’all got picked up by NBC!” Tears started rolling down my face and snot was coming out of my nose, I started hyperventilating. It was really bad. But I love that the person who called me and let me know was actually one of the writers/creators for Disaster, which is where I made my Broadway debut.
DDF: “Gurgs” seem to have the best chemistry with “Olivia” (India de Beaufort). Who do you think your character has the best chemistry with?
Lacretta: Yeah, I think it’s all different, but I spend a lot more time with India de Beaufort and Kapil Talwalkar who play “Olivia” and “Neil” [respectively] in the series.
Outside of work, I definitely spend a lot more time with Kapil because we’re both gamers. So we call each other and check on each other more often, but it just kind of trickles down. What I love about it is that we’re very much a family. And with family, you don’t always talk to your cousins, you don’t always talk to your aunties, but when you do get together, you know that this is blood…this is family.
DDF: When I first heard about you getting this role as the new bailiff, automatically the character “Roz” popped into my head. How would you say “Roz” and “Gurgs” are similar and how are they different?
Lacretta: We’re both very grounded. We both have our moments, she more so than I. Where we differ: my character is a lot more playful than “Roz”, but she did have her moments. I was telling someone before that there’s a beautiful episode that I just kind of stumbled upon of “Roz” teaching “Dan” how to ballroom dance. There’s a moment where they’re sitting at a table in the cafeteria. They’re just kind of chatting when he says something along the lines of “You know, I came to your apartment and I stood outside your door” and she replied “Yeah, I know. But you know, there could never be anything between us right?” It was just a lovely episode and I loved to see that interaction between the two of them because they are such polar opposites. It’s just such smart writing on this show from then until now that I’m just…I can’t wait to see what happens with it.
DDF: Now, since you are a gamer, if you can make “Gurgs” a downloadable content character, what game would you put her on?
Lacretta: Oh, Saints Row! What!? Especially in this new incarnation which I still haven’t finished. But in the new incarnation of Saints Row, my character very much looks like her except for the piercings. That’s the only difference. What else would I put her in? I would put her in High On Life, which is a new game with a lot of the voices from Rick and Morty. That would be kinda interesting. That game’s crazy and so funny. That was a good one. And then I mean everybody wants to be a Fortnite avatar. I wanna be on Fortnite.
DDF: What do you think people will get from this revamped version of the 80s/90s classic?
Lacretta: I hope that they get a sense of nostalgia. I hope that they find joy while watching this new Night Court and find a moment to escape from the stress that’s going on in the world right now. In a world of uncertainty, what’s for sure is that for at least 20 minutes out of our half-hour slot, you’re going to be laughing and you’re gonna be able to step away from what you’re dealing with.
Watch Lucretta as the charismatic bailiff “Gurgs” and her castmates on Night Court on NBC. The sitcom has just been renewed for a second season.