In the past year, Joel McHale seems to be vying for the busiest guy in show biz. From stand-up comedy shows, to the super hilarious pop culture satire on E!’s “The Soup” and now the role of self-obsessed, but charming Jeff Winger on NBC’s hit sitcom, “Community,” McHale is the definition of go-getter.
“I wanted the role [on ‘Community] as soon as I read the script,” McHale tells Zap2it. “Because it was so different from the regular pilot scripts that you read and the character was already so well-fleshed out, especially in [creator Dan Harmon’s] mind. It was just one of those things where I said I would love to be part of this.”
On Thursday (July 8), NBC is airing a marathon of “Community’s” six most popular shows from its freshman year. And for San Diego Comic-Con attendees, it makes for a great primer for “Community’s” panel at the convention on Saturday, July 24.
So, we asked McHale to give Zap2it readers some behind-the-scenes memories from the episodes. Who knows? There may be a quiz afterward.
8 p.m. “Contemporary American Poultry.”
Also known as the “Goodfellas” episode, Troy (Donald Glover) and Jeff take on the chicken finger shortage at Greendale Community College.
“I think Danny [Pudi] and I must have eaten two to three pounds of chicken and breading,” McHale tells us. “Brutal. I felt ill.”
8:30 p.m “Romantic Expressionism”
Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and Jeff vow to protect Annie (Alison Brie) when she starts hanging out with Britta’s ex-boyfriend.
“One of the funniest scenes was when we realize we’re really not a family,” he says. “Because there’s the potential we could all have sex with each other. Then we all kind of look around at each other in that kind of discovering moment and there’s this one-minute scene of silence. That is one of my favorite little scenes of the whole series.”
9 p.m. “Modern Warfare,” AKA “The Paintball Episode”
Directed by “Fast and the Furious”‘ Justin Lin, a contest turns the campus into a war zone. McHale had to do a pretty big leap in the episode and he says he actually did it himself “without hurting anything.” Also, it took eight entire days (instead of the usual five) of shooting to get the 23 minutes of footage.
9:30 p.m. “Physical Education,” AKA “Joel’s Naked Episode”
In the episode, Jeff’s will is tested in his new billiards class. McHale prepared himself for the near-naked scene by staying away from carbs and doing plenty of push-ups.
“There’s a scene where the entire cast and 30 extras are behind me,” he explains. “At that point, I was supposed to be completely naked. I was wearing a tiny little ‘my skin’ color dance belt. So, you pretty much see everything except for, uh, some very personal parts. I had to lift my leg on that pool table and show everyone. I had to lift my leg about eight times.”
10 p.m. “Comparative Religion” AKA “The Christmas Episode”
In this episode, Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) plans a holiday party and the campus bully (“The Breakfast Club’s” Anthony Michael Hall) challenges Jeff to a fight.
Note: NBC switched this from the previously scheduled “Halloween Episode,” so we didn’t get a chance to talk to McHale about it! Sorry!
10:30 p.m. “Debate 109”
Jeff joins the debate team after Annie’s partner drops out before the championship debate.
“We shot that in a school gym here in Hollywood,” McHale says. “And while we were filming it, there was a shooting on campus or right outside the high school. And we were on lockdown while we were shooting. We couldn’t leave the gym!”
Does Thursday’s marathon include your favorite “Community” episode?
Photo credit: NBC