That time I watched the return of ‘Community’ with Joel McHale

Last night I watched Community with Joel McHale, NBD.

It’s TRUE! I had the pleasure of spending the Greatest Moment of Our Time (i.e. the night Community returned to its rightful place in NBC’s Thursday-night lineup) at Caroline’s on Broadway in NYC with none other than Jeff Winger—and a roomful of people who were so, so happy to see him. (Also, the “whitest crowd [he’d] ever seen in New York.”)

“Six seasons and a movie!” McHale proclaimed as he hit the stage, but not before knocking over some poor dude’s vodka soda on the way. He dutifully replaced it. “If he were alive, Chevy would’ve loved this.” Excellent use of the subjunctive, Joel! Swoon.

Oh wait, on the topic of swooning, let me not skip Myq Kaplan: After an awesome warm-up from host Kaplan (so much LOLing, so much crushing happening right now—also, is it weird that I love when comics ask who in the audience is Jewish so I can raise my hand? Never mind, question answered. Moving on), McHale regaled the crowd of comedy and Community fans alike with tales of his probably retarded/possibly brilliant son, Ryan Seacrest, scabies, boobies, Mormon spears, his older son’s agreeing to eat fish only if he could see his new baby brother’s penis…. What? It didn’t matter what he talked about, because we were there for one thing and one thing only: To watch Community with Joel McHale. And watch it, we did.

But not before enduring with the man of the hour the hilarious lead-up to go time. Watching a TV show with a star of said show—who is also, not to mention, in the midst of a set—is a funny thing. As the minutes ticked toward 8 o’clock, there was the obsessive asking of “What time is it now?” There was the hilarious moment when all of us saw that the TVs behind McHale were flickering on and a giant screen was descending from the ceiling, all without his noticing. There was the deafening volume once we were ready to roll. “This is gonna be a horrible experience,” he said. Oh god, it was all so great. And then. AND THEN!

Community was back, as if it never left. You’ll forgive me if I abandon the typical recap format, but I’m too ferklempt to go moment by moment. In a way, this episode was tailor-made to do what it had to do—welcome us back AS IF WE HADN’T ENDURED THE CALLOUS CASTING AWAY OF OUR BELOVED SHOW WITH NO REGARD FOR OUR FEELINGS. It was the breath we all needed to take. It wasn’t high concept, it wasn’t chock full of one liners, it wasn’t meta: It was just the gang, back together and projecting into our living rooms (or comedy clubs, because, did I mention? I was watching the show with Joel McHale.) like it’s supposed to. Shirley is remarrying Theo Huxtible but coming into her own, too; Britta and Jeff are accepting their respective destinies (that they will always be drunk. No, JK, they have issues with marriage), Abed and Troy try to me normal and gloriously, thankfully, fail, etc., etc.

The biggest benefit to watching Community with Joel McHale is that he talks you through the commercials. Abilify, natch, buys airtime because Community makes people depressed. The ad for that comically tiny automobile? Not Joel’s cup of tea—he drives an SUV that runs on seal oil (and even reenacted how the oil is extracted from the seals. Shiver.). When McHale was turned to the audience and nearly missed a commercial for Scientology, I filled with panic. Turn around, Joel, I silently prayed. There is such fertile ground right behind you! And as if heeding my silent, spastic cry, he turned to the screen in time to see the words—ah, fuck, I can’t remember what the words were, and I’m too nervous to Google “Scientology” on my computer. You go ahead and do it. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Anyway, my point is, he was very funny! And it was so, so fun to watch!

After the show, Joel regaled us with stories from behind the scenes—it took Chevy Chase half a day to remember the order of his marriages for that bit at the beginning—and laid some emotion on us, too: “Without you guys,” he said, “this show wouldn’t be back. And wait until you see the rest of the episodes. Chang recruits an army of 13-year-old Jewish boys at a bar mitzvah. [Beat.] You think I’m joking.” Ok, maybe not so emotional. But STILL.

I’m so happy this show is back and hope you guys are, too. Until next week, Human Beings, when I’ll be recapping my ass off. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.

You can watch the entire episode below!

Carla Sosenko

Carla Sosenko is a writer and editor from Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Self, Jezebel, The Hairpin, The NY International Fringe Festival and some other places. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, where she majored in choppy sentences. Carla thanks you for reading her words and kindly asks you to read more of them at Follow her @carlasosenko. She thinks you rule.

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