Joel McHale and 'The Soup' Go Live for Their 500th Episode
Joel McHale on E!'s 'The Soup' (Dale Berman/E! Entertainment)
E!'s gleefully irreverent clip show “The Soup” celebrates its 500th episode tonight by going live twice: once for the east coast, once for the west. And though the milestone episode has host Joel McHale and EP/head writer K.P. Anderson feeling nostalgic, it won't be a bundle of old clips. “I think we, as a show, do better when the material is fresh and we have new jokes," Anderson says.
They underplay the risky nature of a live broadcast — as McHale puts it, “‘We're doing it live; isn't that so exciting?’ Yeah, like how they did television for years before tape was invented?" — but it will likely not be easy. McHale started shooting Season 5 of his NBC sitcom “Community” on Monday, “so that shouldn't be a problem at all,” he says. “I'll be shooting 14 or 15 hours a day, then coming in on Wednesday and, like [in a punchy, slurry voice], 'Alright, let's knock this thing out!'” Also, McHale is dyslexic: “So it should be a really interesting live taping.”
The "Soup" crew is used to high-pressure, minimal-rehearsal situations. They've been shuttling back and forth between L.A. and Atlanta because McHale has been shooting films in New York while on hiatus from “Community," often taping in Rachael Ray's studio.
Though the show's tone is biting, they've rarely felt any blowback. "Without exception, every single reality star I have ever met has said, 'Please put me on your show,' or 'Thank you for putting me on your show, and may I come back on?' No one has gone, 'How dare you?'” McHale recalls. “Years ago, Tyra Banks did not want clips of her show on our show and we said, 'Well, uh... tough.' And I have met her and she was very, very nice to me."
Instead, they've been surprised by who they've managed to get on. Anderson says, “Sometimes we're bowled over by who agrees to do the show. Like when [NBC news anchor] Brian Williams said he'd come on. It just seemed like such an odd thing that he'd say yes to that, and he came and he was just fantastic, which you'd expect.” McHale agrees with customary dryness, “He could have been, if he wanted to, a comedian. A stand-up. He could've been an actor. He could've done anything. The jerk.”
Of course, they're still hoping for Sir Paul McCartney. Or Prince. “Prince! Open invitation!” shouts McHale. “It'd be great to have Beyonce and Jay-Z on every week. We'd love Bieber. He, apparently, has a fan base.” The policy is, “We're open for anything,” citing the surprisingly willing and game WWE superstars who are also responsible for their highest-rated episode to date.
The TV landscape has changed in the ten years since “The Soup” debuted, and the show has changed with it. Reflecting on the time, Anderson says, “When we started, Kelly Osbourne was a teenager. Now E! pays her more than Joel,” drawing cries of mock outrage from the host.
In terms of favorite or seminal moments for the show, Anderson cites Whitney Houston's “Kiss My Ass” clip “was the one that kind of turned a bunch of lamps on,” and McHale fondly recalls “Spaghetti Cat” as one that “became iconic for us.”
Watch the classic "Spaghetti Cat" clip from "The Soup" right here:
When asked about reality shows they miss, McHale says, "There were shows that put us on the map, like with the way we'd make fun of Tila Tequila, 'A Shot at Love'." Anderson adds, "'Showdog Moms & Dads.'" "'Pants-Off Dance-Off,'” McHale continues. “And, God rest her soul, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown was earth-shatteringly good for us. It's just like anything — we've moved on.”