Interview: Joel McHale

The Community man is working like a dog for his army of fans---somebody get him a $10 massage!

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  • Photograph: Celeste Canino; Groomer: Pamela Lliubo-OBrien; Stylist: Jose Camilo; Hair stylist: Jade Perry. Manicurist model: Chrissie Canino; Massage therapist model: Jesse Jordan

    Joel McHale

  • Photograph: Celeste Canino; Groomer: Pamela Lliubo-OBrien; Stylist: Jose Camilo; Hair stylist: Jade Perry

    Joel McHale

  • Photograph: Celeste Canino; Groomer: Pamela Lliubo-OBrien; Stylist: Jose Camilo; Hair stylist: Jade Perry

    Joel McHale

  • Photograph: Celeste Canino; Groomer: Pamela Lliubo-OBrien; Stylist: Jose Camilo; Hair stylist: Jade Perry

    Joel McHale

Photograph: Celeste Canino; Groomer: Pamela Lliubo-OBrien; Stylist: Jose Camilo; Hair stylist: Jade Perry. Manicurist model: Chrissie Canino; Massage therapist model: Jesse Jordan

Joel McHale

The cast appeared at Comic-Con last month. Was it surreal to confront the show's rabid fan base?
Yeah, they had to turn 2,000 people away. Did you see the movie 300? Gerard Butler's army—that's Community fans. We are small but mighty. It's bizarre and wonderful: Come and be adored. It's probably bad for someone with an enormous ego.

Do your fans have the same rippling Spartan six-packs?
Come on, it's Comic-Con. I don't know if mine [are] rippling. Whenever I'm going to have to be naked [on the show], I starve myself and do more push-ups than [are] healthy.

You've had a number of scenes for which you've stripped down. Is that something Community creator Dan Harmon keeps writing for you, or do you send back notes: "This would work better if I were seminaked"?
Giving Dan any notes would be a mistake, because the man is a genius. In the first season, there was a billiard match between me and a gym teacher, and we ended up getting naked and kissing. It kind of took off from there. It was never intended. It's not like Dan examined my body before he cast me.

If you were doing a nude photo for a magazine shoot but could only afford $10 of airbrushing, which body part would you get Photoshopped?
Unruly hair. And that would probably only cover a calf.

Do you think some of the more absurd plots, like season two's Halloween zombie episode, risk turning some viewers off?
I think people are like, That's just a parody show, [but] it's not. The zombie episode, in my mind, is justified. We all ate military rations that turned us into zombies. [Laughs] Sure, that seems justified. Sometimes people criticize us for not being conventional enough, but I think the characters are very grounded, and if you stick with them you'll be fine. No matter what happens with Community over the next few years, I know that it's the highest-quality artistic thing I've ever done. Even though ratings are low, I'm still so thrilled by it.

You play one of Anna Faris's 20 boyfriends in What's Your Number?, which comes out next month. How do you think your exes see you?
I was all over the place and very scattered [when I was dating]. I am friends with some [ex-girlfriends]. Those worked out great, [but] my guess is there are a couple who would rather never speak to me again—and I don't blame them. I guess the archetype would be an enormous albino.

Season three of Community premieres Sept 22.

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