It’s been a long time since we’ve seen John Goodman in a comedy role, but after many years (and a week of hazing, by Joel McHale’s account), the Emmy award-winning actor has returned to his TV roots as Vice Dean Laybourne in NBC’s hit comedy, Community.
While he doesn’t profess to know as much about the world of air conditioning as his character (“I know how to turn them on, off, pick up a phone when they break. I know not to urinate in them, unless it’s somebody else’s air conditioning unit.”), as a lead actor in one of the longest running sitcoms on television (a little show you may have heard of called Roseanne), what Goodman is familiar with are the makings of a TV hit; and according to John, Community has got what it takes to go the distance.
“It’s the cast. I think they’re a wonderful ensemble. The writing is out there. It’s not a typical situation comedy. It’s risky, and it’s a combination of great things,” Goodman tells The Morton Report of Community’s winning formula, which has allowed the show to outlast the countless failed sitcoms that have gone by the wayside during the steady rise of reality TV.
For the show’s star, Joel McHale, its appeal to television audiences isn’t as clear.
“It draws in viewers?” McHale jokes. Though he’d love for
Community to gain the type of viewership that American Idol and other reality
competitions boast, Joel, who also hosts E!’s The Soup, credits the ensemble cast,
with a nod to the iconic cast of characters from shows like M*A*S*H and Cheers,
that keep audiences coming back for more week after week, season after season.
As for the onslaught of Bad Girls, Bachelors, and other reality programs .
“It reminds of the early days of television when they’d throw anything up against the wall to see if it would stick,” Goodman observes of today’s TV climate and the migration of hour-long shows to cable networks. “You’d think there would be more comedies out there. Maybe there’s a smaller concentration of comedy writers than there are real people out there,” he adds, in jest.
“I’m just an old, crabby bastard. I’m not a big fan of reality television. There’s some stuff I like. There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t, but that’s just popular culture in general. I’m just an old crab.”
What he does enjoy is NBC’s line-up of comedy sitcoms, which at first may seem like a thinly veiled plug for the network issuing his check, but with shows like The Office, Parks & Recreation, and 30 Rock still standing strong, and newcomers such as Whitney and Up All Night gaining momentum as well, it appears that NBC has found the right combination when it comes to primetime comedy; and Community is certainly no exception.
Though his stint on Community is almost over (say it ain't so!), John Goodman fans can rejoice in knowing that the actor is eager to return to an ongoing comedic role where he can regularly enjoy the “great sense of achievement” that comedy brings.
“There’s a great payoff when [comedy] works,” Goodman explains. “And I like to laugh almost more than anything in the world, and if you can make somebody else laugh, that’s a great thing.”
A great thing indeed.
Community featuring John Goodman airs Thursdays at 8|7c on NBC.