Comic-Con 2012: Joel McHale on ‘Community’

The star of NBC’s cult comedy series shares his real feelings about Dan Harmon’s replacement, and talks Jeff Winger’s father for season four.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

We’ve been waiting all summer to talk to the cast of “Community.” While we’re happy to have them back for a fourth season, we’ve followed the departure of Dan Harmon and the memos from NBC telling the cast how to speak about him.

 At Comic-Con, Joel McHale did roundtable interviews with the press so we could find out his real thoughts about Harmon, and season four storylines including Jeff Winger’s father.
CraveOnline: Have you been brief on what to tell us you feel about Dan Harmon and the new showrunners?
Joel McHale: Yes, that was a nine hour briefing. I got most of the points. I was tested on it and I’m ready. 

CraveOnline: So how do you feel?

Joel McHale: Oh right. Well, let’s see. As you’ve probably heard the cast answer now four or five hundred times, Dan created the show and gave me the job of a lifetime. I think it’s the greatest show in the history of television, but it was such a strange time and you guys heard me in every single interview I did. I wanted Dan back, but obviously a lot of stuff and it’s definitely different.
I know [David] and Moses from “The IT Crowd” that I did for NBC back in 2007. They’re terrific guys and really good and a lot of the writers are back, so it’s definitely like this strange transition time, but I’m still insanely excited to do the show. It’s one of those things where he will be missed and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all goes, but just talking to the writers and how things are going, they’re breaking stories and they sound great. There you go, my long stuttering answer.
CraveOnline: You say it’s different. How is it different?
Joel McHale: Well, it’s like if you have a pool that’s chlorine, then you switch over to salt water, right? It’s different but it’s still the same pool and it’s still water. Of course it’ll be different but we’re not back at work yet, so we’ll see. One of the most different things, because the Russos are now doing “Animal Practice” and their crew is very loyal to them so we’ll have a whole new crew. That will be also a massive change. I actually can’t really tell you the difference yet, but it’s different in that I know that it will be. Wow, that was really long and unclear. Good luck at writing that all down.
CraveOnline: Have you shot anything yet?
Joel McHale: No, we’ve done nothing. That’s why I say maybe I’m speaking too soon. I’ve not read a thing. It is different, I know the scripts will be in German which is odd. I don’t know why.
CraveOnline: Have you sat down and had story meetings with them?
Joel McHale: No, but that never happened for the first three years either. I don’t know any show where that happens unless you’re on the writing staff or an executive producer.
CraveOnline: When do you go back?
Joel McHale: August 13 is the first day of shooting, then the Monday before that will be the first table read. So you can all come back then after the table read and I can let you know how it goes.
CraveOnline: Are you excited to meet Jeff Winger’s father finally?
Joel McHale: Yes. I actually learned that this morning. They were like, “We’re going to try to do that.” I was like oh, great. Yeah, I’m very excited.
CraveOnline: Who would you like them to cast as Mr. Winger?
Joel McHale: Channing Tatum would be great, like in “Mork” when the son [was Jonathan Winters]. That would be great. Jessica Biel would be a great father for me. Anybody from the cast of Green Lantern really. There’s been a number of names thrown around. I know people have talked about Bill Murray because my character’s last name is based on that, so that would be great. Someone like John Larroquette would be great. Someone like John Cleese would be terrific.
There are so many. I think we should mix it up and make it Eddie Murphy or something, or Jackie Chan would be great. Whatever it is I definitely believe it will be probably not what we’re expecting, my guess is. I hope maybe it’s Meryl Streep. She can do anything. She is very versatile. I’m very excited to see that part of it. Obviously that’ll be great to sink my teeth into.
CraveOnline: What else are you excited to dig into in season four?
Joel McHale: Well, that. That’s huge. There’s no end to my amusement to see what the Dean and Jeff will be doing. Jim [Rash] is such a genius, everything from his dropping down and having an orgasm on the floor, or the Kiss from a Rose, or when I yelled the word uniform at him and he had another orgasm. His episode, the “Heart of Darkness” episode was one of my favorites last year, so I’m always curious about that.
Of course there’ll probably be stuff with Annie and Britta probably I assume. I can only assume since we’ll be in the same room with each other. Then probably some ongoing thing with Pierce that he always has. I kind of restated what’s happening so in conclusion the father and Dean stuff is always something I look forward to. And if I can continue to play foosball with Shirley is always good.
CraveOnline: How are your foosball skills?
Joel McHale: My foosball is terrible because I’m a big spinner. Spinning is for pussies. I played a lot at the Boys and Girls club but I was much more into Ping Pong and pool. So yeah, I’m very excited about the Olympic ping pong. In America we only see it every four years. Same thing with rhythmic gymnastics.