Joel McHale, host of The Soup, throws snarky one-liners at the vapid reality stars his show lampoons with uncanny ease. That whip-smart sarcasm and wry sense of humour is lent to his character in the new NBC sitcom Community — premiering this Thursday.

As Jeff Winger, McHale is a smarmy defence attorney attending community college since the recent revocation of his law degree. But even with classes to attend and study groups to mismanage, McHale isn’t throwing in the towel on The Soup just yet.

Q. Will starring in Community hurt your street cred and your ability to make fun of other shows on The Soup?

A. We don’t poke fun at things that are on purpose funny. So we don’t ever have clips from the late night talk shows. We don’t ever have a moment from shows that were intentionally funny. I’ll show clips from Community to promote the show on The Soup. I will be shameless about that. Since I’m not hosting a reality show — or a contestant on one — I don’t think they’ll be any conflict.

Q. So did you just find yourself not busy enough working on The Soup that you decided to star in a sitcom, too?

A. Yeah, I said, “I have a wife and kids, why do I want to spend time with them?” Actually, The Soup doesn’t take up as much time as you would think because I can do a lot of it at home — watch television and write jokes. Community has really been the most time-consuming thing I’ve ever done next to shooting movies and guest-starring roles.

Q. How much of either show is improvised?

A. With The Soup, we write it all out because you have to be regimented to 22 minutes. But then within shooting the show I add all sorts of stuff. And then with Community, there’s improvising in it because the cast are all really good at improvising, but the stories and characters are so strong that we don’t do a ton of it.

Q. You previously starred in another sitcom, The IT Crowd, that never quite made it to the air. What makes Community different?

A. With The IT Crowd specifically, that was a four-camera show with an audience, so it’s totally different in that way. Community is shot like 30 Rock with a single camera.

• Community premieres Thursday 9:30 p.m. on Citytv.

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