As seen on TV

Joel McHale: I skip to the set of ‘Community’ every day

 
Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images for Xbox

The kooky cast of Community is back in action. The NBC Thursday night ensemble comedy has writer and famed Chevy Chase enemy Dan Harmon back at the helm after a season-long absence. Joel McHale returns as a smart-mouth lawyer turned student turned professor at Colorado’s fictional Greendale Community College. We talked to McHale on a recent conference call about what to expect in the fifth season’s go-around:

How is this season going so far?

WIth Dan back, the monarchy has been restored and things are as they should be. So in that sense, the sense of relief that I’ve had this year has been tremendous. [But] it always seems like every season we don’t know if we’re coming back. Imagine if we were on The Big Bang Theory, where we are like, ‘We can do this until we’re 60 if we want.’

You guys have got an absurd number of great guest stars. Did you ever feel that was a distraction?

No, not at all. I would say it only supported it: Vince Gilligan and Mitch Hurwitz and Chris Elliot and Paul Williams. I mean, talk about a crazy group of people, including Gina Gershon and the incredible, beautiful, lovely Bree Larson. I think it’s some of the most creative guest stars of the last, I don’t know, I’m going to go with the last 100 years of television.

We’ve seen your character, Jeff Winger, really come to into his own; last year we saw him leave Greendale and resolve issues with his father. Is he maturing?

I would say Jeff, now he’s a professor, he is once again somewhat destabilized. And his immaturities are exposed, a whole new set of them. There were a number of things that kind of got taken care of last year, and those things, they’re not things that just get kind of wrapped up. It’s not something like, ‘Well, that was done and now I’m fixed.’ It’s more like you are constantly finding new kind of things to fix and hopefully make that person healthier. But Jeff has had years of selfishness and that gets exposed this year. And it was very fun to play. But there’s no doubt, though, that he loves this study group. And he has to really comes to terms with how he feels about the school ultimately.

Do you always follow the script?

Oh, yes. There’s this weird thing where people are like, ‘Do you guys just kind of make it up as you go along?’ And I’m not sure why. I mean, Dan’s is not an improvised comedy. There are very deliberate parts of the train-track that is being laid down to get to the end of this season. I know this is going to sound really grandiose, but it’s as specific as Shakespeare was with his words, where there’s really no excess.

“Community” has had its ups and downs and the hardcore fans have stuck by it. How would you encourage a new viewer to give it a chance?

The episodes speak for themselves, and you don’t have to watch from the beginning to enjoy the show. And you might be a little lost on some of the inside jokes. That said, I think it’s also the job of NBC to keep pumping us out there.

What’s it been like working on the same show after all this time?

I count myself as incredibly blessed, because I get to work. And I remember a lot of time before I got The Soup or Community where I spent most of my time not working and trying to get it. So to have it is a huge blessing. And once I ever get the balance, I’ll be very happy. But I haven’t yet. But believe me, working on Community I skip to the set each day.

Madeleine Marr

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • At the movies

    British comedian Nick Frost channels a salsa dancer in ‘Cuban Fury’

    Nick Frost may be pasty, portly and, well, British but, man can he dance. It took practice, though. In Cuban Fury, out Friday, Frost plays Bruce, an office drone who re-energizes the salsa moves he learned as a kid to impress his love interest/boss Julia played by Rashida Jones.

  • Celebrity birthdays on April 16

    Singer Bobby Vinton is 79. Actress Ellen Barkin is 60. Bassist Jason Scheff of Chicago is 52. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 51. Singer David Pirner of Soul Asylum is 50. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 49. Actor Jon Cryer is 49. Actor Peter Billingsley is 43. Actor Lukas Haas is 38.

  • As seen on TV

    Billy Bob Thornton finds a fit with FX’s ‘Fargo’

    After failed attempts and broken dreams, by golly, someone went and put Fargo on series TV.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category