After more than nine years of Mankini and chicken tetrazzini, The Soup airs its 500th episode tonight on E!, and host Joel McHale is more than a little nervous about broadcasting live for the big occasion.
“I’m very much looking forward to it — also, I have full-on dyslexia, so that should be great,” he told reporters after taping No. 499 last week. “You think I’m joking, but I am dyslexic, so it should be a really interesting live taping. I think it really brings a sense of danger.”
McHale definitely needed a few extra takes during last week’s taping (“Get ready to hear the jokes a third time!”), but he and executive producer K.P. Anderson are confident that things will go smoother for the live show. “This was the warm-up,” Anderson told McHale, who responded, “This was the warm-up? The last nine years have been the warm-up!”
So what kind of ingredients do the Soup chefs have in mind for the 500th serving?
Well, for each airing (the show is broadcasting live twice — once on the East Coast and once on the West Coast), there will be different special guests, including Adam Carolla and The Office alum B.J. Novak. “We were going for dudes with short, very dense, black hair,” McHale joked.
As for other guests, “Lady Gaga is pending,” Anderson said — and we honestly have no idea if he was joking (she is promoting a new album … ).
McHale and Anderson have no interest in making a greatest-hits show or a retrospective; they’re just hoping to deliver a really great episode of television. “I think live is pretty much the trick,” Anderson said. “We’ll have a couple of little surprises along the way with our special guests and stuff, but I think that we, as a show, do better when the material is fresh.”
“It should just be the show and make sure the jokes are dynamite,” McHale said. “When a joke really bombs, we [usually] go, ‘Stop, time, rewind, and let’s get something else.’ But now we’re live. People are like, ‘You’re doing it live! Isn’t that so exciting?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, like how television was made for years before tape was invented!’”
When they started The Soup back in 2004, did the duo have any idea they’d be planning a 500th episode? “We have a 50-year plan. This is Phase One, complete,” McHale said confidently. “Phase Two, the next 10 years.”
But Anderson was there for the reality check: “We were like, ‘OK, we’re gonna know each other for 13 weeks,’ because that’s how long they told us we had. And we just decided, collectively, to make the show as dumb as we possibly could and keep going as long as they’d let us. It turned out that we were so incredibly cheap that they wouldn’t drop us.”
“I never thought it would go this long,” McHale conceded. “No one ever thought.”
The Soup‘s 500th episode airs live tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on E!