What happens when your employer finds out that you lied about your education? In Jeff Winger’s case, you’re suspended from practising law and are forced to enroll in a community college to bide your time. Winger’s misfortune is the focus of back-to-school-style comedy Community, which follows the students (a mix of late-starters and born-again academics) of a Colorado-based community college who form a friendship after starting a study group in the hope of getting things right the second time around. Now in its third season, the show features guest appearances by stars including John Goodman, alongside a cast fronted by comic Joel McHale, who plays Winger. Here’s what Joel had to say.
Why do you think Community continues to draw in viewers? It draws in viewers? That’s great. The show isn’t like anything else on TV. Going back to shows like M*A*S*H or Cheers, it’s an ensemble and they care for each other, and the world around them changes – obviously Community’s changes drastically. I don’t know why people watch it. I think it’s the right combination of actors, and John Goodman will bring in even more viewers.
How will Jeff change this season? Will his relationship with Annie develop? That relationship will develop further on the romantic end of things, much to the chagrin of half the audience – at least those who comment on message boards – and it’s divided right down the middle. Some will be like, ‘Oh, so sweet,’ and others are like, ‘It’s disgusting.’ I know Jeff’s father will make an appearance in the series. Jeff has a lot of father issues, so that will be dealt with. According to creator Dan Harmon, my character’s too kind to be put through hell, so I’m really looking forward to taking the journey. And all the actors are begging the writers to put them in scenes with John Goodman.
Now we’re into season three, do you feel you’re going for broke, going crazy with the stories? At one point people were talking about how it was going to become about relationships, which obviously it is. But a lot of stuff happens in each episode. They’re action-packed: it’s like we’re making a movie every week. There’s so much stuff to shoot and film , but it’s as densely packed as a wonderful lasagna. What was your favourite topic in biology class, and why? I did everything to avoid the sciences because I was so horrible at them. My favourite day of biology class was the last day, hoping I’d passed.
What was it like having John Goodman on set? I really like having him on the show – it’s like we just got the stealth bomber and no one can touch him. It’s one of those things where we’re all so excited and we wonder what bet he lost to force him to come on the show.
They put your character with Annie. Do you have any personal opinion where Jeff belongs? That’s a good question. I hadn’t thought about that. When it comes to that, I trust Dan implicitly. Jeff is a very uncommitted and guarded man. He has a lot of issues, and you know he’s going to gravitate to Annie this year.
You’re also a presenter on comedy show The Soup. A lot of people would have left when they got a big TV show, so why do you still do it? I love doing it and I have a contract, so I can’t leave or they could kill me. I didn’t want to leave, and it’s one of those things where it’s difficult enough to have anything work on television and I wasn’t about to leave something that works. All my friends are there. My best friend from childhood is a writer and performer on it, so it’s a real family. They’ve made the schedule work, so there was no reason to leave. I think at any moment the sky will open and I’ll be crushed by, I don’t know, a large bird that died in mid-air, mid-flight. So, I still keep my paper route.